(Medicalnewstoday) – Eating a balanced diet is essential for people with cystic fibrosis. Maintaining a good nutritional status can help a person improve their well-being, keep their symptoms under control, and fight infections.
People with cystic fibrosis (CF) have specific dietary needs. They require up to twice as many calories as people without CF because living with a chronic chest infection means that the body uses more energy.
Some people with CF develop pancreatic problems that lead to difficulties digesting foods and absorbing nutrients, including fat. These issues can result in nutritional deficiencies and poor weight gain.
Also, many people with CF experience a loss of appetite at some point, which increases the risk of malnutrition.
Children and adults with CF must consume a healthful, nutritious diet that contains foods from each of the main groups: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. People with CF may find the following 10 types of food especially beneficial to include as part of a balanced diet.
Eating fruit may reduce intestinal blockages in people with CF.
Fruits are particularly rich in antioxidants and fiber.
Fruits and other high fiber foods can reduce intestinal blockages in people with CF, while antioxidants can help fight off infections. ResearchTrusted Source suggests that taking antioxidant supplements can reduce inflammation and respiratory symptoms in people with CF.
Although the study involved people taking supplements, antioxidants from foods may also be helpful. Some fruits contain vitamin C, which is an essential antioxidant.
Children and adults with CF can enjoy a variety of fruits, including:
Fruit makes a great snack when on the go. It is also a delicious way to add sweetness and nutrients to breakfast cereals, oatmeal, yogurt, and many other dishes and snacks.
Like fruits, vegetables offer many health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants and fiber and contain essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium. However, dark leafy green vegetables are probably the best option because they are also a good source of the following nutrients:
Iron, which carries oxygen around the body and helps fight infections.
Vitamin A, which boosts immunity and supports healthy eyes and intestines.
Vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting.
People can get vitamin K from the following dark leafy greens:
A person should also include a variety of other vegetables in their diet. Orange vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, are good sources of vitamin A, while garlic has antibiotic properties that may protect againstTrusted Source bacterial and viral infections.
Some people with CF may need to take supplements. All multivitamin supplements that manufacturers have created specifically for people with CF contain vitamin K. The inclusion of this vitamin is important because many people with CF take antibiotics regularly to prevent infection, and, as a result, they may produce less vitamin K in their intestines.
A person with CF should eat protein-rich foods to aid muscle maintenance and physical ability. Research suggests that protein can prevent muscle loss and improve the outcomeTrusted Source for people with CF.
Eggs are a good source of protein, with one large, boiled egg containing more than 6 grams (g) of protein. Like other animal products, eggs contain vitamin B-12, a nutrient that is essential for red blood cell formation and proper nerve function.
Eggs are often a favorite food of children, especially scrambled or fried eggs. People can also use them to make omelets.
- Fish and seafood
Fish and seafood are excellent sources of protein, iron, and vitamin D. Consuming fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, and trout, is a good way to increase the intake of calories and healthful fats.
People need vitamin D for strong bones and to aid calcium absorption. Individuals with CF must keep their bones healthy because they have an increased risk of developing bone diseases, such as osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Shellfish contain high levels of zinc, which is an essential mineral that supports normal growth and development in children and adolescents. Throughout a person’s lifespan, zinc facilitates healing and good immunity.
A zinc deficiency can affect taste and smell, which could further reduce the appetite of a person with CF. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), oysters are among the richest sources of zinc, with 3 ounces (oz) containing 493% of a person’s daily needs, along with 44% of their daily iron requirement.
Nuts contain good amounts of protein and fiber.
Nuts are an excellent snack for both children and adults with CF because they are high in calories and healthful fats and contain good amounts of protein and fiber.
Nuts also contain several vitamins and minerals. Almonds are a great source of the antioxidant vitamin E, with 1 oz providing 37% of the recommended daily intake.
Peanuts are another excellent source of vitamin E, while Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, a nutrient that protects against oxidative damage and infection.
Older children and adults can enjoy whole nuts as a snack, either alone or in a trail mix. People can also add nuts to salads, yogurts, breakfast cereals, smoothies, and baked goods.
It is important to avoid giving whole nuts to children under the age of 4 years, as they are a choking hazard. Instead, young children can have nut butter, which parents and caregivers can spread on crackers, bread, or fruit and vegetable slices to make a delicious snack. Nut flours can increase the calorie content and nutritional value of many dishes, and they are safe for young children.