Diet and cystic fibrosis
Eating well is vital for people with cystic fibrosis (CF). Good nutrition and a healthy body weight have been directly linked to having better lung function and a reduced frequency of chest infections.
Why is having a good diet important if you have cystic fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis causes a build-up of mucus that blocks the ducts in the pancreas and means digestives juices containing enzymes do not reach the stomach and therefore food is not broken down properly. This pancreatic insufficiency affects about 90% of people with CF to varying degrees, and is managed with digestive enzyme replacements.
People with cystic fibrosis should have a balanced diet although many will require more energy (calories), to maintain a healthy body weight. For some people with CF it can be very difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Having CF can increase the body’s energy needs by 150-200% or even higher if lung function drops or if the body is fighting an infection. Feeding the body with these extra calories can be really challenging if an individual is feeling poorly, tired or has a poor appetite.
Dietary and nutritional needs will vary according to age, weight, height, symptoms, lung function and activity level. Specialist cystic fibrosis dietitians are part of every hospital CF team and they can advise on an individual’s requirements.
For general information about a range of issues relating to diet, nutrition and CF, we have a series of leaflets that have been written by CF dietitians, which provide detail on the following topics:
- Achieving a healthy weight
- Calcium and bone health
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating well for children with CF
- Enzyme refusal in children with CF
- Diet and nutrition for exercise
- Food refusal in children with CF
- Gastrointestinal issues in CF
- Healthy eating
- Iron in the diet
- Leaving home and eating well
- Diet and nutrition during pregnancy
- Pancreatic enzyme supplement and CF
- Pancreatic sufficiency and insufficiency in babies with CF
- Diet and nutrition for people after a lung transplant
- Salt in the CF diet
- Staying hydrated
- Teaching children to swallow their enzymes
- Vitamin supplements
- Weaning in babies with CF
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