For this read, I have discussed if cancer patients shold take nutritional supplements and what are some safe options to try.
For people dealing with cancer maintaining their daily intake of adequate nutrition can be immensely challenging due to their illness and sometimes their medication. In such cases, nutritional supplement drinks offer quick and easy access to several essential nutrients.
The following 4 powdered and ready-to-drink supplements are some nutrient-dense options to try if you or any of your loved ones have recently recovered from cancer or are still battling it;
But can a supplement drink fulfill the entire nutritional needs of patients fighting cancer? Or another important question is how these supplements interact with cancer medications.
In the following sections, I’ve provided the answers to these queries in light of the latest cancer studies;
Should Cancer Patients Take Nutritional Supplements?
These supplements are no less than a blessing when your nutritional requirements are increased, but hunger is completely suppressed due to the health damage done by tumors and cancer therapies.
American Society of Oncology has positive views about using nutritional supplements during cancer treatment. However, they emphasize taking any supplement according to the physician’s guidelines.
Generally speaking, nutritional supplement drinks provide the following benefits to cancer patients;
1. Are Easy-To-Ingest
Liquid supplements are an effective solution for nutritional needs. These are easy to ingest and provide enough calories and nutrients in a few sips.
Cancer patients struggle to eat solid food because;
- They feel no appetite or food cravings.
- Their taste buds are damaged. Either they can’t taste anything, or it feels bitter and nasty.
- They feel nauseated while eating and often vomit it out.
- Chemo reagents develop sores and swellings in the mouth, making it impossible to ingest solid food.
2. Prevent Malnutrition
As discussed above, food intake is a difficult task for cancer patients. And at the same time, cancer weakens a person, gradually causing a deficiency of amino acids, metabolites, and vitamins.
Eating full meals can become even tough during chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The side effects of these treatments have an intense impact on a person’s ability to digest and consume food.
During such a tenure, meal replacement shakes can help prevent and revert such a phase by providing all necessary nutrients.
3. Help In Weight Gain
The patient’s weight significantly drops as cancer progresses because tumor cells lavishly utilize muscle proteins and minerals stored in bones. As the body’s nutrient deposits are consumed, immunity decreases, and the person becomes seriously ill.
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy kill tumor cells, reducing these effects. However, these procedures are severe enough to damage healthy muscle and bone tissues.
Resultantly, cancer patients experience constant weight loss, which must be reverted using a high-calorie nutritious diet. Nutritional supplements can help them regain weight and muscle mass.
4. Help Boost Immunity
Nutritional supplements containing antioxidants and vitamins are useful for recovering the immunity system of cancer patients.
Different clinical researches show that consuming vitamins C, D, and E improves immune functions, increasing tolerance to chemo and radiotherapies.
Vitamin supplementation also reduces the chances of second cancer among survivors.
What to Look for in Nutritional Protein Shakes Drinks For Cancer?
Following are some features that make a supplement safe and health-friendly for cancer patients;
How Many Calories Does It Have?
The calorie count of the meal shake is important because it would be the primary energy source for cancer patients. A good meal replacement contains 250- 350 kcal per serving.
Eating is difficult for these individuals as they feel queasy when trying to ingest something. Also, the disease or chemotherapy can cause swelling or inflammation of mouth and throat tissues, making it hard to swallow solid foods.
That is why drinks for these patients must contain enough calories to fuel all body functions normally.
Is It Protein-rich?
Meal replacement shakes should have more than 10 grams of protein to prevent muscle wasting.
Cancer cells drain the body’s energy quickly, gradually leading to muscle breakdown. Also, chemo reagents damage muscle fiber, resulting in weaker muscles.
Thus, cancer patients should take protein-rich meals to prevent muscle and weight loss.
Does It Provide Vitamins And Minerals?
Another important consideration about supplement drinks for cancer patients is the proportion of multivitamins and minerals in the product.
Cancer treatment is quite severe and weakens the immune system. Taking vitamins, especially those with antioxidant properties, can improve immunity in such a condition.
Besides that, micronutrients also help with cancer treatment. Patients can tolerate chemotherapy and radiotherapy procedures better when vitamins (A, C, D, E, carotenoids) and minerals (like selenium and folic acid) are added to their diet.
A publication in Molecular Medicine states that vitamins C, D, and E can reduce the intensity of chemotherapy side effects. Also, these micronutrients can inhibit the cancer cells’ penetration into other body parts.
Does It Include Fiber?
Fiber-rich meals benefit during cancer therapy though the underlying reasons are yet unknown.
Research shows that high fiber intake is associated with a slower cancer progression. Increasing 5 grams of fiber in the daily diet lowers the risk of cancer advancement by up to 30%.
That is why nutritional supplements with high-fiber content benefit cancer patients.
Is Its Fat Content Low?
Research is going on to determine the correlation between a high-fat diet and cancer. Yet medical experts recommend that fat content in cancer patient diet should not be high.
It’s because in some clinical case studies, a high-fat diet eventually leads to cancer onset and rapid progression.
For example, this study shows a relationship between a high-fat diet and intestinal cancer. When the patient shifted to low-fat meals, cancer development was reduced.
Nutritional Supplement Drinks For Cancer Patients – 5 Best Options
Finding the right supplement for a cancer patient is not an easy task.
To help you with this matter, I have researched various meal replacements, and protein shakes available in the market, and here are the best ones I found;
1. Kate Farms Nutrition Shake – Meal replacement drink for cancer patients
Kate Farms Nutrition Shake meal replacement shake comes from Kate Farms- a supplements brand famous for its organic products.
It is one of the most calorie-dense meal replacement shakes available for patients. It is vegan-friendly and jam-packed with nutritious ingredients.
This meal replacement shake is a calorie-rich supplement and delivers 330 kcal energy with each serving. This energy comes from organic agave syrup, brown rice, sunflower oil, and coconut oil.
On the whole, it has 38 grams of carbohydrates and 12 grams of fats.
Besides energy, this drink also supplies structural amino acids for muscular recovery. It contains 16 grams of pea protein to aid growth processes.
Another key feature of this supplement is it provides 5 grams of dietary fiber in each dose, which eventually reduces the cancer progression rate as described in the above section.
The non-GMO meal replacement shake is high in phytonutrients. These plant-derived compounds have anti-oxidative and anti-proliferative properties. So, they tend to limit tumor growth and multiplication, helping cancer patients in several ways.
This meal replacement drink is also free of key allergens, which reduces the risk of allergic responses.
It’s a ready-to-drink shake you can take with you and enjoy anytime. Depending on your nutritional needs, it can be used as a full meal or snack.
Chocolate, coffee, and vanilla are the three wonderful flavors of the Kate Farms meal replacement shake.
The pricing of a 12-pack of this meal replacement shake is $51.00. However, if you subscribe to Kate Farms, you can save 10% on the price, paying only $45.90.
2. Fortisip – Protein shake for cancer patients
Fortisip is a nutritional supplement business that creates its supplements under medical supervision.
Their products are geared towards providing nutrients to patients suffering from disease-related malnutrition. They are one of the best protein shakes available for cancer patients.
300 kcal in each bottle makes this high-calorie supplement an excellent protein shake for cancer patients. Plus, it supplies 12 grams of protein to support muscular growth and weight regain.
36.8 grams of carbohydrates help cancer patients stay energized during the severe therapy session.
This drink contains 28 different vitamins and minerals to boost the immune system of cancer patients.
It comes as a ready-to-drink beverage, so, takes no time or effort to make and is convenient to carry along.
The Nutricia Fortisip is available in 4 different flavors: chocolate, banana, vanilla, and strawberry.
3. Ensure Plus – Vitamin drink for cancer patients
Abbott’s Ensure Plus is one of the best ready-to-drink shakes on the market, and doctors, dieticians, and cancer survivors endorse it.
It has a calorie count of 350 calories with 16 grams of high-quality protein. Thus, it ensures that patients get enough energy to live actively and raw amino acids and sustain a healthy lean weight.
Coming to other nutrients, it supplies 47 grams of carbs and only 11 grams of good fats (zero trans fats). Thus, it provides balanced nourishment as well as a high level of energy.
And the best thing is it consists of 27 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, iron, and magnesium. Thus, it helps oncology patients recover their immune systems and win the fight against cancer.
It is a halal and gluten-free product. Plus, Lactose intolerant people can use it because lactose content is too low to provoke a food allergy.
Alternatively, you can go for Ensure Plus Juce, which is a clear, vitamin-rich drink for those who do not want a milk-based drink.
It is available in five varieties (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and butter pecan), with a pack of 24 bottles costing $43.96.
4. Boost Optimum– Weight gain shake for cancer patients
Boost Optimum powder comes from the trusted name of Nestle. It is a meal replacement supplement for people struggling with disease or age-related malnutrition.
It is especially good for weight to regain owing to its high-calorie count (456 kcal). These calories fulfill the body’s energy needs and fuel up the machinery involved in muscle recovery and growth.
To help with muscular growth, it also supplies 18.5 grams of protein. Also, it contains a total of 28 vitamins (vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, niacin, biotin, folic acid, etc.) and minerals (Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, etc.).
Boost optimum also contains prebiotics and probiotics such as Lactobacillus paracasei. These provide a necessary boost to your immunity, perfect for someone dealing with cancer.
It can be made using water or milk as per your choice, but taking it with milk will provide more calories to help you regain the lost weight. It can also be used in smoothies or shakes to increase their nutritional value.
The Boost Optimum meal replacement powder is available in vanilla flavor for $35 per tub.
Homemade Protein Shakes For Cancer Patients
Cancer patients can also make nutritious, energy-rich protein shakes at home. These drinks are easy-to-make, more affordable, and often more delicious.
To get help with homemade nutrition for cancer patients, you can use this guide from Stanford Medical School. It includes key guidelines and dozens of recipes using simple ingredients.
You can also design your own recipes by mixing your favorite food items. You would need the following things to prepare a homemade shake;
- A creamy base (like fortified skimmed milk/ plant milk, yogurt, or ice cream)
- Fruits to add flavor and nutrients (use raw, frozen, or pureed fruits)
- Extra Flavoring (add vanilla essence, chocolate, cocoa powder, or spices like cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, etc.)
Adding plant-based ingredients like leafy greens, turmeric, and cinnamon powder can help you knock out cancer sooner because they contain phytochemicals.
And research shows that phytochemicals can improve anti-oxidative activities in the body, turn off carcinogenic mutations, slow down the proliferation of malignant tumors and cause the death of existing cancer cells.
Here is a simple recipe according to the above formula. It yields a 338-calorie, yummy fruity smoothie.
Blueberry Energy Booster Shake
- 1 cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 1 medium-sized banana
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 3-4 leaves of mint
Put all ingredients in a blender and mix well.
Boost vs ensure for cancer patients – which one is better?
When discussing the liquid meal options, most cancer survivors up-voted Ensure, mostly because it was more palatable than other shakes. Also, its calorie count per serving is higher than Boost.
However, both drinks will provide a good amount of proteins, carbs, multivitamins, and minerals. And cancer patients should take whichever tastes good to them.
Can you drink protein shakes if you have cancer?
Yes, you can drink protein shakes if you have cancer.
Special meal replacements from pharma brands work better for cancer patients than common fitness supplements. However, opt for a supplement only after discussing it with your oncologist.
What is the best nutritional drink for cancer patients?
Homemade high-calorie fruit drinks are best for feeding cancer patients.
And if you want a commercial, easy-to-made solution, Ensure is the top choice of physicians and cancer survivors.
However, the supplement should be selected with the advice of an oncologist, as nutritional requirements are different for each patient.
My Thoughts On Using the Best Protein Shakes If You Have Cancer
You should use a supplementary drink to maintain your calorie intake when it becomes too difficult to eat full meals. If you dislike the taste of a particular shake, another could work for you.
And before you finalize any supplement, always discuss it with your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you. Also, ask your physician which food items you can use in your homemade drinks.
So, you could try different homemade recipes to find out which ones make good meal replacement shakes for cancer patients. Just remember to stay strong, keep trying, and do not compromise your nutrient intake.
Important Disclaimer: The information contained on MAX HEALTH LIVING is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Any statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA and any information or products discussed are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or illness. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before making changes to your diet or taking supplements that may interfere with medications.
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