Good nutrition helps fight infection and maintain overall good health. In many people with cystic fibrosis, thick mucus blocks the pancreatic duct, preventing digestive enzymes from reaching the stomach and small intestine. Many people with CF have difficulty digesting food and absorbing nutrients. They need to follow a nutrition regimen that may include:
Pancreatic enzyme supplements, taken with all meals and snacks, help digest and absorb nutrients. Without pancreatic enzymes, people with CF may experience abdominal pain, flatulence and frequent, bulky stools.
Enzymes may also be required to help treat pancreatitis.
People with cystic fibrosis do not absorb nutrients well. They also require extra effort to breathe and use more energy while coughing and fighting infections. As a result, people with CF need a special high fat, protein and calorie diet.
Several vitamins dissolve readily in fat molecules. Since people with CF do not absorb fat well, they can be deficient in vitamins A, D, E and K. To prevent this deficiency, people with CF take vitamin supplements, sometimes in very high doses.
Even with a special diet and pancreatic enzymes, some people with CF fail to gain weight and may require a feeding tube. The tube delivers a high-calorie formula directly to the stomach. Tubes may pass through the nose to the stomach (nasogastric tube or NG-tube) or go directly to the stomach through the abdominal wall (gastrotomy tube or G-tube).
Nutrition information sheets published by the Cystic Fibrosis Dieticians across Canada: