Medications or treatments that are endured by cancer sufferers can cause side effects. One of them is to reduce appetite. Nutrients such as protein are needed by cancer patients to help maintain the body’s metabolism. What are the benefits of protein in the body, especially for cancer sufferers? Then how to overcome decreased appetite?
The importance of protein for cancer sufferers
Protein is needed by the body to maintain function, growth, and repair any damage in the body. Protein can be found in almost all cells in the body and has various functions, including :
- Formation and maintain the function of muscles, tissues, red blood cells, enzymes, and hormones
- Transporting various compounds that the body needs including medicines consumed
- Maintain body fluid balance
- Fighting infection and increasing the immune system
In general, protein is obtained from various food sources. However, for cancer patients undergoing various treatments, protein requirements are likely to increase.
How much protein is needed?
The amount of protein depends on the weight the cancer sufferer has. You need at least 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight every day.
For example, if you weigh 50 kg, then the amount of protein that needs to be consumed is at least 75 grams per day, this is equivalent to 20 eggs white. However, protein requirements in cancer patients can be more due to the side effects of treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
What happens when a person with cancer does not get enough protein?
Cancer patients who undergo treatment require adequate protein and calorie intake. This is to help stay strong when fighting cancer and the complications of infection that can occur.
However, some studies show up to 85% of cancer sufferers suffer from malnutrition. This occurs due to side effects from a series of cancer treatments that cause the body to not get or absorb the nutrients needed.
Malnutrition is more common in patients with pancreatic, lung, and upper gastrointestinal cancer.
When malnutrition occurs, cancer sufferers can experience complications including:
- Impaired function of the immune system
- Decreased ability and function of the body
- Muscle function impaired
- The overall quality of life is declining
Is there a way to meet the protein needs of cancer patients?
If the cancer sufferer or sufferer has decreased appetite, meeting protein needs will be a new challenge. You can follow the following tips to help meet your daily nutritional intake needs.
- Eat small amounts but more often
- Take advantage of times when you feel hungry by eating more
- Don’t drink too much when eating
- Create a pleasant atmosphere when eating, like playing music or while watching
- Avoid nausea
Try to consume at least 20-30 grams of protein at every meal and 10-15 grams when eating snacks or snacks.
Foods and snacks rich in protein for cancer sufferers
Some of these foods can be an option so that daily protein intake can be fulfilled. Among them:
- Red or white meat (chicken and fish)
- Salmon or tuna
- Milk and its preparations, like cheese
- Nuts and preparations, such as almonds, tempeh, and peanut butter
There are other alternatives to deal with cancer sufferers who are difficult to eat. Give or provide liquid foods ready for consumption high in protein so that people with cancer can more easily get the required nutritional intake.
Some people may not know about this type of food. This ready-to-eat food is intended for people with cancer and the elderly. These foods are rich in nutrients that can help meet daily needs.
Loss of appetite or appetite in cancer patients can occur due to the side effects of treatment or therapy that is done. The impact of a decreased appetite is a lack of nutrition so that it can cause malnutrition.
Malnutrition can be a trigger for complications of other diseases. Cancer sufferers need to avoid this by having to always consume protein-rich food sources.