Dietary Tips For Teens With Cystic Fibrosis – Meeting The Nutritional Demands!

Fibrosis is the excessive formation of fibrous connective tissue in response to injury or damage. It can also be formed as the result of normal healing or the excess tissue deposition that occurs as a pathological process and is often seen as associated with most chronic inflammatory diseases. In its most advanced stages, the fibrotic process can cause organ dysfunction and death.

Here we will discuss what cystic fibrosis is, how it affects teenagers, and offer dietary guidance for teens with cystic fibrosis.

What Does Cystic Fibrosis Mean?

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that you inherit from your parents at birth, characterized by the build-up of thick, sticky mucus that can damage many of the body’s organs.

Cystic Fibrosis

People with cystic fibrosis have a genetic mutation in a gene called Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) gene. This is responsible for the development of irregular proteins that cause mucus thicker and stickier than usual.

In the affected individuals, these abnormal mucus formations clog the airways and make it difficult to breathe, and cause bacterial infections in the lungs. And over time this buildup can lead to permanent lung damage.

Cystic fibrosis can affect the digestive and reproductive systems and also cause complications in the functioning of the liver and pancreas. 

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic condition and there’s currently no cure for it. However, treatments can improve the quality and duration of life.  

Cystic fibrosis In Teens 

Adolescence is a vulnerable life phase with or without cystic fibrosis. They grow mentally, physically, and socially all at the same time. Balancing school and social life is often overwhelming to teens, especially for teens with cystic fibrosis as they ought to focus on their treatment.

Teens with cystic fibrosis might face poor metabolism, difficulty in breathing, a higher risk of dehydration, and can also develop many long-term health problems like diabetes. Adolescents with cystic fibrosis need specialized treatment, physiotherapy, and medicines.

The treatments may differ from person to person, some may need daily physiotherapy to clear mucus from the lungs, inhalers to break down for easy breathing, antibiotics to prevent and treat lung infections, and vitamin supplements to help them with additional nutrient requirements.

These treatments can provide relief from symptoms, but we should also be mindful that a nutritious diet should accompany these treatments for optimal health.

Diet Requirements In teens With Cystic Fibrosis

Teens with cystic fibrosis can do almost everything their peers do. However, as a growing teen with cystic fibrosis, they have to focus on their high nutritional requirements to stay healthy and active. For the smooth functioning of the digestive and respiratory system, they require more calories, vitamins, and salt than those without condition.

Food options with high-fat, high-calorie, high-salt, and low-sugar content can be beneficial to them. In fact, they should consume up to 3000-5000 calories per day to meet their needs.

Cheeseburgers, ice cream, pizza, pasta, fried chicken, potatoes, ham and cheese omelets, and vegetables are good sources of a high-calorie diet with plenty of protein and fat. As fat is the best source of calories, adding it to all foods will increase the calories. Incorporating high-energy snacks and smoothies can also boost calorie intake.

Food rich in iron such as meat, seafood, cereals, leafy vegetables, and beans can be helpful in muscle building. Milk, yogurt, and cheese rich in calcium can be included in their diet to improve bone health.

Zinc which is essential for healing and fighting infection can be obtained from meat, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, and seafood. All of the said minerals are supposed to make your child healthy thus it is advisable to add them to the diet.

It is observed that most teens with CF have trouble absorbing calories, and the above-mentioned organic compounds. Therefore, proper guidance from trained dietitians is advised as they can walk you through the best nutritional program for your kid.

Conclusion

Teens with cystic fibrosis can lead healthy lives. Paying attention to nutrition and eating a healthy diet, following prescribed supplements and medicines can help them in maintaining good health. Additionally, as it is a genetic disorder it needs lifelong management. And it is crucial to work with the child’s medical team, to find more ways to keep them healthy.  

About the Author

Nicole Carter is a dedicated and passionate nutritionist, committed to helping individuals achieve their health and wellness goals through the power of proper nutrition. With a Bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science and years of practical experience.

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