A progressively chronic disease, cystic fibrosis is caused by a defect in the genes that affects the normal functioning of the pancreas, lungs, intestines, liver, sinus, intestines, and the reproductive system. The disease leads to persistent infections of the lungs and hinders the ability to breathe over a period of time. The mutations cause the mucus to become sticky and thick, thus clogging the airway and trapping germs. This causes frequent infections, respiratory failure, inflammation, and other complications. Due to the blockage in the pancreas, the enzymes of the digestive juices are not able to reach the stomach. As a consequence, food is not broken down properly. This insufficiency affects 90% of the people affected with cystic fibrosis, which can be rectified with certain foods.
Good nutrition is required throughout one’s lifespan even for a normal person. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, staying healthy with cystic fibrosis includes taking care of the digestive tract for which good nutrition is crucial. It is important to consume cystic fibrosis foods as they are required.
1. To maintain a healthy body weight
For people with cystic fibrosis, it becomes difficult to maintain a healthy body weight. The fibrosis can increase the need for energy by more than double and even higher if the body is fighting an infection or if the lung function decreases. A nutritious diet is important to provide the body with extra calories. A person suffering from cystic fibrosis would need more calories than a normal person. This is because the digestive tracts of such people are not able to digest and absorb the calories.
2. To breathe normally
It is important to manage cystic fibrosis with adequate and suitable diet and nutrition by eating recommended foods. Eating well is critical as good diet and nutrition have direct relation with enhanced lung function and reduced chest infections. Breathing becomes harder, and getting enough oxygen to the lungs when a person has frequent coughing becomes exhaustive. As calories are the most needed nutrient, a high fat diet is recommended.
3. To fight lung infections
An individual having cystic fibrosis will be having a better lung function when they are well nourished; this highlights the importance of diet and nutrition in cystic fibrosis. It helps keep the immune system strong and keeps lung infections at bay. Higher nutritional status is associated with greater and improved lung function. The body is not able to fight off the bacteria due to the sticky mucus, which again requires more calories.
4. To maintain energy levels
People with cystic fibrosis are estimated to need more than twice the energy needs of people without cystic fibrosis. Though there is no specific method to determine the energy needs, the aim is to sustain the weight and growth in children and maintenance in adults. Additional calories are needed to keep the energy levels high by taking nearly extra calories per day. However, the exact amount will depend on various factors such as age, current weight, and others.