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Can Leucine Help Avoid Weight Loss in Cancer Patients?
When battling cancer, the body can undergo so many possible changes that it’s tough to predict just what a person might go through during this difficult time. Further compounding the issue are the side effects of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy, the three most common treatments used on cancer patients. While any or all of these techniques may help to treat cancer successfully, they can also make life more difficult – at least, in the short term – by triggering a variety of health issues, including weight loss. For many people, weight loss is talked about as a positive, but cancer patients should avoid losing weight as much as possible to keep up their strength during treatment. Leucine, a much-researched amino acid, is often considered as a means of limiting weight changes, but can leucine help avoid weight loss in cancer patients? To find out, keep reading as the experts at ENU – makers of nutrition shakes for cancer patients – explain.
How Leucine May Help Cancer Patients Avoid Weight Loss
Search online and you’re likely to find all manner of claims regarding how this compound or that herb can help cancer patients, not all of which are grounded in truth. Leucine, on the other hand, has been subjected to significant scientific scrutiny proving its effectiveness as a supplement aimed at doing one thing: building muscle. Numerous studies have concluded that leucine – one of the three branched-chain amino acids and a popular addition to fitness supplements – has the ability to stimulate the process known as muscle protein synthesis, which is how your body makes new muscle tissue.
For cancer patients, this power is especially valuable because of the threat of weight loss. Many people diagnosed with cancer find that the disease speeds up their metabolism, leading to significant weight loss, and some of the side effects of chemo and radiation can have a similar effect. However, cancer patients need that body tissue, since it provides a crucial reserve of calories and nutrients that can help them maintain their strength and support their recovery.
While there’s not much leucine can do about fat loss, it can certainly help cancer patients avoid muscle loss. By improving a person’s natural rate of muscle protein syntheses and serving as the raw materials for those new proteins, leucine is believed to help cancer patients maintain lean mass while fighting the disease, especially when taken along with light to moderate exercise.
How to Get More Leucine If You Have Cancer
Part of the reason why cancer patients struggle with weight loss is that their appetite and ability to tolerate solid food are often affected by both the illness and its treatments. For this reason, it’s sometimes tough for some patients to get the nutrients their bodies need at the levels required to stay healthy, and leucine is no exception.
Generally speaking, leucine is found in any source of complete protein – the kind with all nine essential amino acids – as well as many sources of incomplete protein. Unfortunately, these sources are typically solid foods, like poultry, fish, and red meat, but leucine can also be found in dairy products, eggs, and even some plants, like soybeans and quinoa.
The best way to get leucine during cancer treatment is to tailor your approach to what you think your body can tolerate. If you have mouth sores because of chemo, stick to dairy products or high-calorie meal replacement shakes; if you can handle solid food, try salmon or chicken with dinner. Ultimately, it’s up to each patient to determine what does or doesn’t work for them. If you’re having a hard time maintaining proper nutrition, be sure to talk to your oncologist or nutritionist for advice on your unique situation.
Tips for Avoiding Weight Loss During Cancer
Along with working leucine into their diet, cancer patients can take a number of additional steps to address weight loss before it gets too severe. If you or someone you know is battling cancer or undergoing a treatment with harsh side effects, consider the following tips.
Most cancer treatments share fatigue as a side effect, making it tough to keep moving throughout the day. However, remaining active is a key part of getting the most out of leucine; the more you use your muscles, the less likely you are to lose them.
Focus on Calories
When you’re sick, your body needs lots of energy, which it gets from food in the form of calories. Whatever else you do, make sure you’re getting the number of calories you need to maintain a healthy weight, even if it requires adding some unhealthy foods – milkshakes, for instance – to your diet.
Hydrate with Juice
If you’re trying to avoid weight loss during cancer, consider using juices or other high-calorie drinks to stay hydrated.
Use Nutrition Shakes
If you struggle to keep down solid food or simply don’t feel all that hungry most of the day, try a shake for weight management with a balanced nutritional profile. ENU protein shakes for weight gain offer a beneficial blend of easily digested protein, heart-healthy fats, complex carbs, and 24 vitamins and minerals.
Try an ENU Shake to Help Cancer Patients Avoid Weight Loss
Staying healthy while fighting cancer is never easy, but with ENU shakes, the task can be made a little simpler. Just keep some ENU nutrition shakes on hand for a quick dose of nutrition, or try our Pro3+ nutritional powder to add calories and protein to any drink or moist food. Learn more about the benefits of ENU products by visiting us online or calling (855) 266-6733 today.