Many healthy people struggle to keep weight off. But children with chronic diseases often have the opposite problem: They struggle to gain an ounce, much less a pound, no matter how hard they try. It’s called failure to thrive.
This was the problem Richard and Michelle Laver set out to solve in 2011 for their daughter Kate, who suffers from cerebral palsy and was unable to eat solid food. Kate was failing to thrive, weighing just 16 pounds at the age of 5, when her parents decided to concoct a plant-based organic shake from the healthiest ingredients they could find.
Kate not only tolerated it, but started gaining weight, growing, and feeling better. Her hair glimmered and her skin brightened. Her sleep and digestion improved, and her energy levels skyrocketed.
Two years and 70 home batches later, in 2013, the first commercially sealed bottle of Kate’s shake became available. Kate Farms was born. Since then, thousands have experienced similar results using Kate Farms formulas.
Impressive, yes. But the evidence was still mostly anecdotal. Until now.
What Makes Kate Farms Special
All Kate Farms products are organic, non-GMO, and plant-based. These sole-source formulas are made with pea protein and without common food allergens, including milk, wheat, eggs, soybeans, peanuts, fish, tree nuts, shellfish, and corn.
For the study, published on October 15, 2019, researchers conducted a retrospective review of 11 patients who’d been taking Kate Farms as enteral nutrition within the previous two years. Complete height and weight data was available for nine patients; of those, seven gained weight. In addition, of the patients under 21 years old with a documented weight-for-age Z-score, six out of seven showed improvement.
‘“What’s unique here is that medical diagnoses of the patients varied greatly, with 66 percent of them having feeding difficulties and 44 percent of them had failure to thrive,” says Vanessa Millovich, co-author of the study. “Some of the patients were taking the formula by mouth, others were taking it in a feeding tube. This shows that the formula works for individuals with different conditions; it’s not only for niche use.”
This research is also the first of its kind, adds Millovich, because it evaluates a vegan-only option. “Studies have been done before that involve milk and dairy protein options, with or without soy, but soy is also one of the top eight allergens,” she says. “With Kate Farms, we’re talking all pea protein. That’s what makes this special.”
Americans are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of a plant-based diet, says Millovich, including reduced inflammation, a stronger immune system, lower risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases like diabetes, and improved cardiovascular health.
“We have an opportunity to contribute to the good. We can consume high-quality food and protein that isn’t going to contribute to climate issues, that’s sustainable,” she says. “And now that we are able to demonstrate clinical improvements with our sustainable product, that will be something we’ll keep talking about.”