In many people with cystic fibrosis the small channels that carry the digestive juices become clogged with sticky mucus. Digestive enzymes then build up in the pancreas, which becomes inflamed and damaged over time.


The effect of cystic fibrosis on the pancreas varies from person to person, and around five to 10% will retain some useful function.

Most people with cystic fibrosis take enzyme capsules with all meals and snacks to help digest food. The amount of capsules needed depends on the food being eaten, and varies from person to person.

A suitable diet is very important for people with cystic fibrosis. A good body weight can help to fight chest infections, and should include reserves in case you lose weight due to illness.

A healthy diet for someone with cystic fibrosis is:

  • High in energy (kcal) – because the body of someone with cystic fibrosis has to work harder, and has higher energy requirements
  • Rich in fat and protein – to compensate for the amount lost in stools because of a lack of pancreatic enzymes

As with any diet, the exact amount of these elements varies by age and from person to person.

Learn more in our specialist sections on nutrition for babies, children and adults, or from our publications library.

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