Protein During Cancer Treatment

The Role of Protein During Cancer Treatment

by Elaine Guinan on October 24, 2016

The importance of protein in the diet has come to attention in recent years. Protein in the diet is used to help grow and repair new body tissues. This is particularly important for cancer patients who have higher protein needs than the general population. Patients who keep their muscle mass generally have fewer side effects during cancer treatment, and recover better.

Food should always be your number one resource for nutrients to support functions of daily living.  Good sources of protein in the diet include meat, fish, eggs, nuts, pulses and dairy products.  Soy foods such as tofu and tempeh are also excellent sources of protein. While we know that a healthy diet is important, many of us have crazy schedules that make it hard always to have something to grab as we are running out the door.  For this reason, many people have started to turn to protein supplements to ensure that they are meeting their daily protein needs.

Protein powders-what are they?

There are a variety of protein powders available for purchase.  Variations include those made from whey, egg whites, soy, peas, rice, flax, casein, and whey.

How are they used?

The Comprehensive Cancer Centre at the University of Michigan reports that protein powders can help patients to make sure they are getting protein daily.  They suggest that mixing protein powders into your favorite beverage or adding it to a variety of soft foods to increase the protein content. Protein powders can also be used as an egg replacement in baked goods.

Do I need to use a supplement?

It is a good idea to try to have a source of protein with each meal throughout the day. Meals such as our tasty Quinoa Porridge, Turkey Meatballs or Fish en Papillotte are full of protein and are suitable for anyone going through cancer treatment. Vegetarian patients are also catered for with our delicious protein-rich meals and snacks.
If you are concerned that you are not eating enough protein, it is important to speak to your doctor or dietitian as they will be able to advise you on the need for a supplement. Many nutritional supplements can have additives which are harmful to health. Excess protein in the diet may also be harmful, therefore contacting your healthcare team for advice before taking a nutritional supplement is advised.

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