What can you do to help your body as you heal from surgery and/or endure chemotherapy and radiation?
And when food does not taste good, or you’re battling nausea, how do you maintain nutritional balance?
“Eating a whole foods, Mediterranean-style diet is essential for good health in general,” says Dr. Robin Miller of Triune Integrative Medicine in Medford. “But if a patient is going through chemotherapy, it can be difficult” to get a balanced diet.
“Chemo alters taste buds,” she adds.
Miller touts the benefits of Magic Mineral Broth, a recipe developed by nutritionist Rebecca Katz, author of “The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen.”
“The broth has been a saving grace for many of my patients.”
Mushrooms are foods that can be very helpful too, says Miller.
“Maitake mushrooms specifically help with chemo-related side effects,” she says. “Shitake and turkey tail mushrooms have cancer-fighting elements, as well.”
Maitake, often called “Hen of the Woods” because its looks like a hen’s fluffy tail feathers, reduces toxicity of some chemotherapy drugs.
Turkey tail mushrooms, when used in combination with chemotherapy, enhance the therapeutic effect, says Miller.
“They also reduce side effects.”
The mushrooms can be used in cooking, but for medicinal purposes, Miller recommends the concentrated form in capsules, which can be found at local health food stores or naturopathic outlets.
Studies by the National Institutes of Health are ongoing about the benefits of mushrooms in the treatment of breast cancer and other cancers.
Kate Newgard, Providence Medford Medical Center’s oncology nurse navigator, also recommends a plant-based Mediterranean diet.
“More veggies, olive oil, olive oil and olive oil, and very little red meat,” she recommends.
And, of course, fresh, locally grown produce found at Rogue Valley-area farmers’ and growers’ markets is best, she adds.
Teresa Bresnan, a licensed acupuncturist and nutrition therapist at the Acupuncture and Natural Health Center in Medford, is adamant about “eating nothing man-made.”
She believes “highly processed foods with chemicals” and toxins in the municipal water sources are partially to blame for the high incidence of cancers in general, not just breast cancer.
She recommends a water filter to ensure clean water.
Newgard cautions those going through cancer treatment to eat enough to maintain a healthy weight and get all the proper nutrients.
“The broth can be transformed to meet a myriad of nutritional needs, serving as everything from a delicious sipping tea to the base for more hearty soups and stews,” Katz says about her “magic broth.”
“So no matter what a person’s appetite, it can provide a tremendous nutritional boost,” she writes. The broth is “rejuvenating,” she adds, because “it’s chock-full of magnesium, potassium and sodium, it allows the body to refresh and restore itself. I think of it as a tonic."
Magic Mineral Broth
Makes 6 quarts
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 to 4 hours
6 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds
2 unpeeled yellow onions, cut into chunks
1 leek, white and green parts, cut into thirds
1 bunch celery, including the heart, cut into thirds
4 unpeeled red potatoes, quartered
2 unpeeled Japanese or regular sweet potatoes, quartered
1 unpeeled garnet yam, quartered
5 unpeeled cloves garlic, halved
½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 (8-inch) strip of kombu*
12 black peppercorns
4 whole allspice or juniper berries
2 bay leaves
8 quarts cold, filtered water
1 teaspoon sea salt
*Kombu is a mineral-rich seaweed (in the kelp family) that adds a umami or savory flavor to stocks and broths. Kombu is usually found in the Asian section of a grocery store near the nori (seaweed sheets) that are used for sushi. Store dried Kombu in a cool, dark area in your pantry.
Rinse all of the vegetables well, including the kombu. In a 12-quart or larger stockpot, combine the carrots, onions, leek, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, garlic, parsley, kombu, peppercorns, allspice berries and bay leaves. Fill the pot with the water to 2 inches below the rim, cover, and bring to a boil.
Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. As the broth simmers, some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables begin to peek out. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted.
Strain the broth through a large, coarse-mesh sieve (remember to use a heat-resistant container underneath), then add salt to taste.
Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days or in the freezer for 4 months.
Per Serving: Calories: 45; Total Fat: 0 g (0 g saturated, 0 g monounsaturated); Carbohydrates: 11 g; Protein: 1 g; Fiber: 2 g; Sodium: 140 mg
Reprinted with permission from “The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery.” Copyright 2009 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.
For additional recipes or information, go to Katz’s “Healing Kitchen” blog at www.rebeccakatz.com.