Nutrition

Nutrition in a person with CF plays a very important role in the treatment and management of their condition.  Research has shown there is a link between weight gain and survival.  People with CF are required to consume between 120-150% of the daily amount of food recommended for a person of the same age and size that does not have CF.  This is needed to ensure they:

  • Increase their chance of absorbing the nutrients needed for normal and healthy growth (in children) and general sustained health
  • Increase their body weight in order to fight off infections particularly in times of exacerbation of lung illness

The diet for a person with CF is high in calories, high in fat, high in salt, and high in sugar.  Often when children or adults are sick they lose their appetite and will lose weight. Having a good body weight helps them when they are ill as appetite is often reduced and they can lose weight.They need to ensure they maintain a healthy body weight to assist in fighting infection and to help them through when they get sick.Cholesterol is NOT an issue in CF. Increased salt is required to replace that lost through sweat. Good nutrition is important for people with CF and a diet with fruits, vegetables, proteins and fats is required to maintain health.                    

Other Supplements

People with Cystic Fibrosis have difficulty absorbing some vitamins, especially those that are fat-soluble. Often they will need to take supplements of vitamins A, E and K.

People with Cystic Fibrosis have sweat that is five times saltier than people without Cystic Fibrosis. This puts them at risk of dehydration and salt depletion in hot weather or with increased activity. The high salt loss means the body's thirst mechanism does not trigger, so the person does not feel thirsty as they lose fluid. To make sure they do not dehydrate, they need to drinks lots of sports drinks (like Isosport) or Glucolyte, take salt tablets and maintain water intake. Salt input needs to be distributed across the day as the very salty sweat means salt loss can be very rapid. Lack of salt and fluid can lead to dehydration which can cause irritability, cramps, headaches, lethargy and fatigue.