In Praise of “Pond Scum”

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My morning “pond scum” ingredients. YUM!

Most of us living in North America fail the adequate nutrition test. In the land where Congress classed pizza as a vegetable (yes, really), it’s no wonder that getting enough servings of nutritious fruits and vegetables can be a challenge for the average American diner. I’ve always been a relatively healthy eater: I try to buy organic and local when I can, I’ve been mostly vegetarian for five+ years, and functionally vegan for almost three years. Cheese was my major fail in managing a completely vegan diet, but then we all have our challenges.

Enter a diagnosis of estrogen positive, stage IV breast cancer in September, 2018. Bye, bye cheese; hello full-on vegan diet! It was time to get 110% serious about nutrition. After all, diet appears to be partially responsible for some 30-40% of all cancers. More research is needed, but I’m with Hippocrates who knew the value of nutrition centuries before vegan was hip.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.  — Hippocrates

My family and friends have become well acquainted with what I affectionately call my “pond scum” drinks. These green concoctions earned their name because, well, they LOOK like pond scum. The taste is actually a quite delicious combination of banana, apple, carrot, dark leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, spinach are my favorites), blueberries, and filtered water, all whirled into a smoothie in my handy Ninja. The morning version includes a scoop of Greens First powder that delivers an extra 15+ servings of fruits, veggies, and antioxidents. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

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Some of my favorite cookbooks. I also drink a LOT of herb tea in lovely mugs, like this Yogi brand DeTox tea.

I’m not suggesting that everyone choose a 100% vegan diet and forego caffeine, sugar, oils, and alcohol. This is my choice to give my body every chance possible to heal itself in combination with western allopathic medicine (i.e. chemotherapy). I’ve been influenced by the work of T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.,John McDougall, M.D.Joel Fuhrman, M.D., and Forks over Knives. What I am suggesting is that you consider some diet changes before you are diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or other serious illness.

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need. — ancient Ayurvedic proverb

Sure, diet isn’t everything when it comes to health, but it is a major component. I’ll be citing the book Radical Remission frequently over the next few months because it’s had a huge impact on my approach to addressing my cancer. In this book, author and researcher Kelly Turner, Ph.D., explores nine key factors that cancer survivors share. Guess what? Radically altering your diet is one of those nine factors. In fact, it’s the very first factor Turner addresses. Your diet really does matter.

If you’re in great health, give thanks. If you feel that your health is slipping and you know that stress, lack of exercise, and a bad diet are markers of your lifestyle, take a deep breath and consider some changes–FAST. If you are dealing with cancer or another serious illness, consider how a healthier diet might be able to support your treatments. Do, however, include your care providers in discussions about nutrition and any supplements or complementary therapies you are considering. Above all, nurture your spiritual life and check out what your sacred texts have to say about food and nutrition. You might be surprised. In the meantime, I raise my glass of “pond scum” to your health–and to mine. Be blessed!

Disclaimer: I’m definitely not a health professional, but I’m in the business of learning all that I can to try to cajole my cancer into radical remission. If I can be of any help to you, great! Just know that what I write are my own opinions and reflect my own experience. When you find yourself living with a life-threatening illness or chronic condition, YOU are your best advocate. Learn all that you can, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or get additional professional opinions.

2 responses to “In Praise of “Pond Scum”

  1. Hi Sharon,

    Netflix has an offering called Heal. It supports your approach and what you are doing with emphasis on spiritual health and eliminating stress as well as a plant based diet.

    We are gradually moving toward a plant based diet and eating much less processed foods. I have a soup cookbook intended to help people be healthier and/or lose weight. It’s called Supelina’s Soup Cleanse ,Plant-Based Soups and Broths to Heal Your Body, Calm Your Mind,and Transform Your Life by Elina Fuhrman.My doctor recomended it. It includes basic information on Ayurvedic medicine and cooking, Chinese Medicine,etc. I have made several of the soups, they are all good but not as highly flavorful as my husband prefers so I tweek them a bit by adding more of the flavorful ingredients. What I enjoy most is making a variety of the soups that vary in texture as well as flavor. They really have helped me feel generally better which is surprising because I thought I was ok except for the weight. We enjoy them for lunch. We can eat less with these without sacrificing good nutrition or satiety. In fact my body seems to be very thankful!

    I will pray for you and Rob. Would it be ok with you if I give your name to one of our prayer teams that prays for people with cancer? Being Catholic, they ask for help from St. Peregrine. I understand if the latter is something you may not be able to accept.

    Peace,
    Becky Gonzalez

    • Thank you, Becky! I’m grateful for the information about the soup cookbook (will check it out), and I’m ALWAYS appreciative of prayers and would welcome prayers from your prayer team. I will hold to the hope of a saying attributed to St. Peregrine: “Better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today!” Peace and gratitude!

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