The Facts About Protein

In many cases, doctors and nutritionists may recommend a high-protein diet for patients in mesothelioma treatment. Even for healthy people, protein is a crucial part of the diet because it aids in cellular regeneration. If a person consumes too little protein, he or she won’t be able to make enough red blood cells (causing fatigue) or white blood cells (to fight germs). The average adult should consume between 45 and 60 grams of complete protein each day. This recommended daily allowance can change for cancer patients, so it’s important to speak with your doctor or nutritionist about how much protein you should be getting as too much protein can also have a deleterious effect on one’s health.

The word “protein” comes from a Greek root that means “of first importance”. This is very fitting because protein is needed to maintain the health of every cell in the body. Many people don’t know this, but there are actually two groups of protein: complete and incomplete. Complete proteins come with the proper proportion of all essential amino acids, while incomplete proteins lack one or more of these essential amino acids or the amino acids are not properly proportioned for growth. Examples of complete proteins include meats, fish, fowl, eggs, and dairy products. Some incomplete proteins include grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

If you aren’t a big meat eater, don’t despair: certain incomplete proteins can be complementary to each other, combining to create a complete protein. For example, combining legumes with grains can form a complete protein. Also a boon for vegetarians, soy is the only complete plant-based protein and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

When combining two or more incomplete proteins to form a complete protein, it’s important to match the amino acids’ strengths and weaknesses in individual foods. Grains, seeds, and nuts are mostly low in lysine and high in tryptophan and sulfur-containing amino acids. Legumes, on the other hand, have lots of lysine and may not be a good source of tryptophan and sulfur-containing amino acids.

Worried about getting enough complete protein? If so, it’s a good idea to have a discussion with your nutritionist, who can help you establish a healthy diet and routine. In the meantime, here are some tasty combinations of incomplete proteins that form a complete protein.

Legumes & Seeds, Nuts:

  • Trail mix with sunflower seeds, raisins, and peanuts
  • Navy bean soup with sesame crackers
  • Toast with peanut butter and sunflower seeds

Legumes & Grains, Cereals:

  • Brown bread with baked beans
  • A sandwich and a cup of split pea soup
  • Red beans and rice
  • Pinto beans and corn bread
  • Peanuts and pretzels

Animal & Vegetable Protein:

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Baked beans and vegetarian hot dogs
  • Vegetable lasagna
  • Tuna casserole with noodles
  • Toast with peanut butter and soy milk
  • Cheese sandwich