Dietary tips to manage cystic fibrosis
Diets & Meal Plans
Cystic fibrosis is a rare disorder that causes thick and sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tract. This can trigger severe symptoms, like mucus in stool, bloating, gas, and swollen belly. It also leads to malabsorption, a condition in which the small intestine cannot absorb nutrients from the diet.
Here are a few dietary tips for managing cystic fibrosis:
- Dietary strategies and foods for adults with cystic fibrosis
Although there is no specific diet for cystic fibrosis, dietitians suggest eating three meals and two to three snacks every day. The energy needs of those with cystic fibrosis are around 1.5 to 2 times the needs of those without the condition. Therefore, it is recommended to eat a high-calorie, high-fat diet, which includes 40 percent of total calories from fat. The extra calories consumed must be a part of a properly balanced diet with less saturated fats and more unsaturated fats. These include olive oil, nuts, and avocados. Additionally, walnut oil and flaxseed oil are also great options, as they lower inflammation. A few common ways to include extra calories from fat are adding cheese to egg recipes, selecting fatty fish, like salmon or mackerel, and adding ripe avocado in salads.
Along with eating foods that help alleviate cystic fibrosis symptoms, one should not miss the prescribed vitamin and mineral supplements. Plus, it is essential to maintain proper hydration to prevent flare-ups and further complications, as those with cystic fibrosis have increased sweat production. Drinking adequate water can help fight infection and ensure that the thickened mucus in the lungs and digestive tract does not worsen, as it can make airway clearance more difficult. It can cause thicker secretions in the bowel and lead to blockages in the gut. Lack of fluid and excess salt loss can also cause headaches, cramps, and fatigue.
- Dietary recommendations for infants with cystic fibrosis
The fundamental nutritional requirement of a high-protein, high-calorie diet for children and adults with cystic fibrosis is applicable for babies as well. Infants must be given high-calorie foods once they start eating soft foods to alleviate cystic fibrosis symptoms. Adding breast milk or formula to a bowl of cereal is an excellent way to sneak in some extra calories. Adding cream cheese, bananas, and nut butter can boost calories and bump up a meal’s satiety factor. Doctors also recommend giving infant pediatric formulations for vitamins A, D, E, and K.