Cancer is a disease that can affect any part of the body, and protein is a necessity for cancer patients. It is nothing but the controlled growth of cells in certain parts of the body. Cancer cells do not undergo apoptosis (natural cell death during the growth and development of the organism). These cells are in a sense immortal. These cancer cells can also move to adjacent parts of the body, leading to the spread of the cancer to other organs known as metastasis.
Cancer patients need utmost care and attention especially in terms of nutrition. Protein is one of the most important nutrients for them. Let’s talk about how protein is crucial for recovery and also about some of the best sources of protein that you can include in your diet.
Cancer and nutrition & energy crisis
Proper and adequate nutrition is a very vital factor influencing the potential for cancer patients’ treatment and recovery. When a person is undergoing cancer treatment, he or she must receive various treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and so on
. All of these treatments put a lot of pressure on the body. These processes affect not only cancer cells, but also healthy cells. You can lose many healthy cells along with cancer cells. Therefore, the body needs to repair and rebuild itself. It has to replace the lost healthy cells with new ones. This is where proteins come in.
Role of protein in our body
Protein is an essential nutrient because it is a component of every cell. Every cell in our body is made of protein. Therefore, proteins help form new cells and repair muscle tissue and other cells. In fact, you need protein whether or not you have cancer. You need it every day to form new cells and repair the damaged ones.
Now you can see that proteins can play an important role in the rebuilding and recovery of the body for cancer patients. Protein intake is essential to replace the lost cells. This is mainly due to the need for cells to regenerate very quickly in order to recover and heal. Ingesting protein has several other benefits. It boosts immunity and makes you less susceptible to infections and illnesses. It also helps to deal with the side effects of cancer treatments such as fatigue and weight loss.
food loaded with protein for cancer patients
There are two main sources of protein for cancer patients: plant-based protein and animal based protein. It should be determined which type of protein the patient can tolerate before providing any protein rich foods.
Some of the plant based protein sources are: soybean and soybean-based products like tofu, seitan, pulses like lentils and beans, quinoa, amaranth, peanut butter, etc. On the other hand, animal-based sources of protein are mainly meat such as: fish, chicken, pork, milk, egg, etc.
More intake of plant-based proteins are generally suggested by the nutritionists. While the animal-based proteins should be taken in moderation. But if the cancer patients are craving for meat then it’s okay to include some of it in the diet. It is advisable to include lean meats like chicken, fish, turkey, etc as compared to red meat like pork, beef, etc. One can go for the lean parts like loin, tenderloin, sirloin, etc.
You can get a bit creative to increase your daily protein intake. Like using peanut butter with bread. Get yourself a protein rich smoothie with your choice of flavours. Add tofu to your plate if you are lactose intolerant but you like diary products. Have nuts as an evening snack if you like them. If you have trouble consuming whole nuts then go for nut butters. Include salads like chicken salads or greek salads to add even more protein to your diet.
Ingesting the right amount of protein for cancer patients
It is clear that protein requirements increase during the treatment of lung cancer patients. However, you need to decide how much to increase your protein intake. Knowing the proper intake of protein is important to help your body recover faster. To do this, you need to talk to your doctor to find an appropriate and sufficient amount of protein intake. If you have certain medical conditions, such as kidney problems, keep in mind that too much protein is not good. Therefore, always seek advice from an oncologist before increasing your protein intake.
Maximising the benefits of protein intake
Don’t eat too much in one meal. Five to six meals is great for you. Remember to include protein in each of these diets. You can also choose certain protein powders. Take a bottle of plain protein powder. Or, if you want to add flavour, you can use milk with protein powder. Try adding powdered milk to your food to maximise the protein content of your food.
Its important for cancer patients to choose a rich source of protein mentioned in the paragraph above. You can also plan your meal in advance and add whatever you like to the menu. Also, avoid the boredom of repeating food and don’t forget your essentials. If you like treats, try packing a healthy, protein-rich treat on a plate.
Plan your meal in advance
You need to roughly calculate the amount of protein you need. Ensure that you are intaking the proper amount of protein. If you are facing a problem determining if your protein intake is proper, then you can meet a nutritionist or a dietician. They can help you to plan your meals and also give tips about how and when to take your meals as per your unique condition and requirements.
Protein intake is crucial for cancer patients in order to recover and maintain a healthy weight. Proper planning and scheduling of meals is required to ensure that you take the right amount of protein in your diet.