Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that affects the digestive and respiratory systems. Under this condition, a mutation in the CFTR gene triggers the over-production of mucus in the body, which in turn blocks the digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas from passing into the small intestine. Though the disease has no known cure, it can be managed through other cystic fibrosis treatment measures, along with the right cystic fibrosis diet plan.
Why Do You Need A Cystic Fibrosis Diet Plan?
As the condition blocks the digestive enzymes from reaching the small intestine, nutrients like proteins and fats are not normally absorbed, resulting in vitamin/mineral deficiency and malnutrition. This causes weakness, which is one of the definitive cystic fibrosis symptoms.
This is why people who suffer from cystic fibrosis have to consume more calories when compared to normal individuals – about 2900 to 4500 calories per day.
However, the amount of calories required might differ depending on the severity of the disease. By following a nutritional diet that consists of extra fatty foods and enzyme supplements, individuals with cystic fibrosis can lead a healthy life. Once cystic fibrosis has been diagnosed, a specific diet plan has to be made by consulting a cystic fibrosis dietician.
The Complete Cystic Fibrosis Diet For Patients
A cystic fibrosis diet plan mainly covers the amount of calories required per day. Some of the essential nutrients that should be included in such a diet have been given below.
Essential Fatty Acids
Plasma fatty acid levels are generally low in individuals with cystic fibrosis. Plant oils like safflower oil and soybean oil are rich in plasma fatty acids.
Using such oil to prepare food would help build the cell membrane of epithelial cells, which in turn would aid in the normal functioning of the lungs. You should also add food items that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, like flax seeds, salmon, and walnuts.
Fat-Soluble Vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, And K)
Fats are not properly digested or absorbed in the body of an individual with cystic fibrosis. This contributes to the low levels of fat-soluble vitamins, which in turn affects the immune system. In such cases, dietary supplements that are rich in vitamin A, D, E, and K should be incorporated into the diet.
The body stops absorbing protein and this has to be supplemented in the diet. Protein-rich foods that you can eat are soya, nuts, beans, eggs, fish, and meat.
Patients with cystic fibrosis face a risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis, which are caused by brittle and weak bones that result due to the inadequate absorption of calcium from the food. The right cystic fibrosis diet should include dairy foods that are good sources of calcium and fat.
In most cases, individuals with cystic fibrosis suffer from anemia because of an iron deficiency, and this makes them susceptible to infections. The cystic fibrosis diet should also include fortified cereal, dried fruits, green vegetables, and meat to supplement the lack of iron in the body.
The loss of excess salt from the body through sweat is one of the main concerns associated with cystic fibrosis. This brings about weakness, low blood pressure, high heart rate, dehydration, and heat strokes. For this reason, it is necessary to add more salty foods in the diet on a daily basis to compensate for the loss of salt from the body.
One of the important components to be incorporated in the diet is zinc. This helps in fighting against infections, and helps in growth as well as healing. Foods that are rich in zinc are eggs, meat, liver, and sea food.
The enzymes made by the pancreas are blocked from reaching the small intestine, where they are required for the normal absorption of nutrients. Because of this, it is necessary to include enzyme supplements on a daily basis so that the nutrients from the consumed food are easily absorbed. A certified doctor will be able to recommend such supplements.
With the right cystic fibrosis diet, the condition can be effectively managed. Consult your doctor for further guidance on getting the diet plan right.