The primary goals of a diet for cystic fibrosis are to loosen mucus that accumulates in the lungs and to compensate for nutrients and calories not easily absorbed by the body. This can best be accomplished by consuming a diet high in calories and fat and eating frequent, salty snacks. Foods with these properties can help to break through mucus, thus allowing their nutrients to be properly absorbed. Many patients also supplement with vitamins and pancreatic enzyme supplements. This kind of a diet can also provide a patient with the additional energy needed to breathe.
A typical diet for cystic fibrosis will consist of extra amounts of the elements that the body loses due to the condition, including salt, protein, zinc, iron, and calcium. This is the rare diet where eating foods such as pizza, bacon cheeseburgers, and cheesecake is highly advised. As foods like these can also be among the most detrimental choices for overall health, it is important to balance a person's general diet with the extra calories and fat of a diet for cystic fibrosis. This includes eating plenty of nutrient-rich foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
There are several different kinds of foods that can be beneficial to a patient with cystic fibrosis. It is particularly important to eat lots of protein, which can be found in foods such as meat, fish, beans, and eggs. Many of these foods can also provide zinc. Dark leafy greens, dried fruits, and fortified cereals are all good sources of iron. Supplemental salt is another vital part of a good diet for cystic fibrosis; eating salty foods and adding additional salt to meals is usually sufficient to meet these needs.
Full-fat dairy products are often another important element of a diet for cystic fibrosis. These foods provide vital calories, protein, calcium, and fat. Whole milk, milkshakes, cheese, and yogurt are all good choices.
There are also many vitamins, minerals, and supplements that are typically an important part of a good diet for cystic fibrosis. Often patients will be advised to take daily supplements with calcium, zinc, sodium chloride, and iron. Since individuals with cystic fibrosis have difficulty absorbing fats, vitamins such as K, E, A, and D, which are fat-soluble, are also typically supplemented. Pancreatic enzyme supplements can also be an effective way to help patients absorb the nutrients from food more efficiently.