Today, cancer has emerged as the leading cause of death worldwide. It occurs due to the uncontrolled growth of cells that don’t undergo apoptosis. This uncontrolled growth of cells can even spread to other parts of the body. With the increase in the number of cancer cases, the number of people suffering from cancer has already surpassed over 19 million, as per 2021 data.
Lung cancer is one such cancer and is also one of the leading causes of death due to cancer. Lung cancer is cancer occurring in the lungs and also begins here. Our body is starving of nutrients like proteins when struck with diseases like cancer. We will discuss protein intake during lung cancer treatment here.
We all have a pair of spongy organs called lungs, whose major function is respiration. When we inhale, we intake oxygen; when we exhale, we pass carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This process is breathing. Respiration is not the same as breathing. It is a much more complex process in which oxygen is transported to red blood cells, and carbon dioxide is taken away from the blood cells.
Although a smoker is more likely to get lung cancer, a non-smoker isn’t exactly immune to this disease. Even a smoker can decrease their chance of getting this cancer considerably by quitting smoking.
Cancer and adequate nutrition
Getting proper and adequate nutrition is a very crucial factor affecting cancer treatment and chances of recovery. If someone is undergoing cancer treatment then the person has to go through various treatments like chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, etc. All of these treatments put tremendous pressure on the body. During these processes, not only the cancer cells but the healthy cells are affected too. You can lose a lot of healthy cells along with cancerous cells. So, the body needs to repair and build itself again. It has to replace the lost healthy cells with new ones. It is where protein comes into the picture.
Why is protein important?
Protein is a vital nutrient since it is the building block of cells. All of the cells in our body are made of protein. So, protein helps to form new cells and repair the muscle tissues or any other cells. In fact, protein is needed whether someone has cancer or not. It is required on a daily basis.
So, now you can see how protein can play a key role in rebuilding your body. Protein intake during lung cancer is essential to replace the lost cells. This is largely due to your cells needing to be regenerated very quickly so that you can recover and heal.
Protein intake has several other benefits too. It will help to strengthen your immune system so that you can be less likely to catch any infection or sickness. It can also help you cope with the side effects of cancer treatment, like fatigue, weight loss, etc.
Some good sources of protein
Let’s list down some rich sources of protein. If you are looking for a plant-based protein source, there might not be many options. Some vegan sources of protein are soybean and soybean-based products like tofu, seitan, pulses like lentils and beans, quinoa, amaranth, etc. On the other hand, there are several animal-based sources of protein like fish, chicken, pork, milk, egg, etc.
The right amount of protein intake
It is obvious that the protein requirements during lung cancer treatment will increase. But one has to determine how much protein intake has to be increased. Knowing the right amount of protein intake is crucial to help your body recover faster. For this, you should talk to your doctor to find the proper and adequate protein intake. You should note that too much protein is not good if you are having certain conditions like kidney problems. Therefore, always take advice from your oncologist before increasing your protein intake.
How to get the most out of protein intake?
Try not to eat a lot in one meal. Having 5 to 6 meal times would be great for you. Don’t forget to include protein in each of these meals. You can also opt for some protein powder. Either take a glass of plain protein powder. Or, if you like to add some flavour, you can go for milk and protein powder. Try adding dry milk powder to your food items to maximise the protein content of the food.
Choose a rich source of proteins mentioned in the above paragraph. You can even plan your meal in advance so that you add whatever you like to your menu. Plus, you can stay out of the boredom of repeating food and not forget the essential ones. If you enjoy snacks, try including healthy, protein-rich snacks on your plate.
Planning and scheduling of meals
One should plan their meals beforehand. You should roughly calculate the amount of protein required. Ensure that you are taking 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 plan your meals and give tips about how and when to take your meals per your unique condition and requirements.
Protein is very important for rebuilding your body during lung cancer treatment. Incorporating a proper protein diet will surely help in timely recovery and manage issues like weight loss and fatigue. This will all contribute to an increase in patients’ quality of life.