An important factor for staying healthy with cystic fibrosis is good nutrition. Thick mucus often gets in the way of proper digestion, causing malabsorption of nutrients. This problem is treated with pancreatic enzyme supplements, vitamins and a high-calorie, high-fat diet.
In CF, a high-calorie, high-fat diet is vital for normal growth and development in children, and it offers adults a way to maintain optimal health. The dietitians at CF care centers work with patients and their families to map out the best diet for each person.
Nutrition and general lung health are closely linked. People with CF may need extra calories to compensate for the malabsorption of nutrients. These extra calories also help generate the increased energy needed for breathing. In fact, for children with CF, extra fat calories are good for fueling normal growth and development.
Almost everyone with cystic fibrosis needs to take pancreatic enzyme supplements with meals and snacks. Taken by mouth, the enzymes go to work in the intestines to help digest food so it can be absorbed by the body. Patients should always check with their doctor or dietitian to know the exact amount of enzymes to take.
Most people with cystic fibrosis do not absorb fats properly, so certain vitamins, or “fat-soluble” vitamins, are not absorbed. These vitamins are Vitamins A, D, E and K. People with CF usually take these vitamins daily. Minerals, like calcium, iron, sodium chloride and zinc, also are essential to maintaining good health through nutrition. Certain foods are good sources of these minerals and they are also available as supplements.
Source: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
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