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Liquid Hope

By Deirdre Imus, 3/18/15
We rely on food for survival, and perhaps that is why we talk about it, think about it, debate about it, and love it with fierce intensity. Food can be delicious, gorgeous, and expensive, and perhaps we focus so much on these superficial traits that we lose sight of food’s true purpose, which is simply to sustain all of humankind. No pressure, food. 
 
The majority of us think about our diets and make conscious decisions about what, where, when, why and how to eat. For others, however, these specifics are irrelevant because they can’t consume food through traditional means, whether due to illness, injury, or some other reason. When this happens, food is typically administered through a feeding tube directly into the gastrointestinal tract or an intravenous line, which delivers nutrition through a vein. 
 
None of us wants to think about these circumstances, in ourselves or in loved ones, but countless families are faced with them every single day. In many cases, the need for specialized feeding arrangements is long-term, and a last resort. When someone relies on a feeding tube or IV line to meet their nutritional needs, it is often at the end of a long road where other, more preferable options simply didn’t work.
 
That’s why it’s important to make sure people receiving so-called “nutrition” from a bag are actually reaping the benefits of a nutrient-dense, organic diet. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case: typically, such solutions are made from things like corn syrup, corn starch, fructose, sucrose, soy and milk proteins, and various fatty oils (corn, safflower, fish). These formulas are, in a way, designed to provide the bare bones of people’s perceived nutritional needs: calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates. 
 
Should those among us already denied the joy of eating and enjoying food also be denied the numerous benefits of a whole food, organic diet? It seems to me that when someone is ill or injured is precisely the time they should be provided with the most healthful, nutritionally sound diet possible to promote healing and wellness. 
 
It’s why Robin Gentry McGee founded Functional Formularies. After her father suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and slipped into a coma, she noticed the bag attached to his feeding tube was full of “different forms of sugar and a lot of chemicals,” as she writes on the company’s website. A professional chef, Robin took it upon herself to create a more nutritious feeding tube formula that would address not only her father’s brain injury, but also his secondary health complications. 
 
It’s a novel idea, and one that may have worked: Robin reports that her dad gradually improved, became more aware of his surroundings, and eventually went from needing 17 medications daily to taking just two. Whether his recovery was enhanced or accelerated by his whole food-based feeding tube formula, which she and her family called “Liquid Hope,” even Robin can’t say for sure. But as she notes, it probably didn’t hurt him to be exposed to better nutrition while in an extremely vulnerable medical state. 
 
As a result of Robin’s creative thinking, passion for health, and love for her father, Liquid Hope is now an FDA approved, nutritionally complete, organic, real food product used in feeding tubes. I have nothing to gain financially from Robin’s success, but I share her story because I think we all can gain from it.  
 
Never accept the status quo when it comes to your well being, just because a doctor or hospital or drug company thinks they know best. You know best what works for your body, your family, your life. If something makes you feel icky, trust your gut and find a better solution. Or, if you’re like Robin, create that solution yourself. 
 
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