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Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Nutrition

Eating well is vital for people with cystic fibrosis (CF), as the small channels that carry digestive juices can become clogged with mucus, making it harder to break down food. This process can also cause damage to the pancreas.

A bowl of fruit granolaOnly around 10% of people with CF retain any useful pancreatic function, meaning that digestive juices (enzymes) do not reach the stomach in order to break down food properly so that the body can use it to produce energy.

This means that most people with CF require enzyme capsules with all meals and snacks. The amount of capsules needed depends on the food being eaten, and varies from person to person, but it can be as many as 60 a day.

Being a healthy weight can improve the chances of fighting off chest infections, so a suitable diet is important. It is also necessary to build up reserves in case of weight loss during times of illness.

A healthy diet for someone with cystic fibrosis is:

  • High in energy (calories) – 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 wasted as food is not fully digested.

As with any diet, the exact amount of these elements varies by age and from person to person. Learn more about nutrition for babies, children and adults in our factsheets on the topic.

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