How often do you meet your daily recommended protein intake? Here’s some great news for those of you who do. Eating the right amount of protein is beneficial during treatment for cancer to help combat muscle breakdown and unintentional weight loss. Protein foods and/or its supplementation can help improve the quality of life of those undergoing treatment.
A Maze Resolved
Protein (and in particular the amino acids that make up protein) are known as the building blocks of your muscles. The benefits of protein foods are known worldwide in regard to the repair of muscles and tissues and general wellbeing. When you have cancer and undergoing treatment, your protein requirements are often increased. This is because as well as damaging the tumour cells, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or immunotherapy may also damage healthy cells and are needed in increased amounts for repair and a healthy immune system. Treatment side-effects can result in weight loss, reduced food intake, and muscle wasting. Research has shown the positive effects of consuming protein-rich foods and supplements during cancer treatments. These building blocks can maintain your muscle mass, fight infections, boost immunity and assist in wound healing.
How much protein should I eat?
Research shows that consuming at least 1.2g protein per kilogram of body weight helps in resolving the symptoms of malnutrition in cancer patients by maintaining their weight, muscles, and immunity. So if you are a 65kg female then having about 78-80g of protein is recommended. It is also suggested that spreading the protein intake over the day is much more beneficial rather that eating all of your protein in one big meal. Therefore, aim for at least 20-30g of protein to come from each main meal and 10-15g of protein from snacks. What does this look like in actual food? You can meet 20-30g from a serve of protein-rich foods like eggs, meat, fish, chicken or plant-based protein sources like legumes, nuts and seeds and dairy and non-dairy alternatives. Protein powders can be used to make smoothies or added to cereals and yogurt. See an experienced oncology Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) for a personalised assessment and meal plan to meet your requirements for your type of cancer and treatment.
Protein-rich foods include meat, fish, chicken, eggs and non-meat alternatives such as legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds. Other good protein sources include dairy (and non-dairy alternatives) such as milk, cheese, yoghurt. There are many protein supplements available which can be added to fluids and food to boost protein intake. Meeting your protein intake during treatment for cancer can improve your quality of life and tolerance of cancer treatment. See an experienced oncology Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) for a personalised assessment and meal plan to meet your requirements for your type of cancer and treatment. For any questions or to make an appointment please contact me on ProfLiz@lincnutrition.com.au