Welcome to the first issue of Nutrition Notes. The goal of this column is to share nutrition information with patients and families. Look for something new each month. The columns will be archived by topic. If you would like to suggest a topic for the column please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is so much information available about nutrition, and at times it can be very confusing. We see ads on television and read stories newspapers and magazines about the best way to eat. But, what is in those ads and stories may not be the right information for the person who has CF. The diet for someone who has CF is not the same as the diet for someone who does not have CF, so it is important to talk with your registered dietitian (RD) at your CF Center about what is just right for you.
Food contains the nutrients we need to live; there are hundreds of nutrients, and perhaps nutrients that have yet to be identified. The nutrients we usually hear about are the ‘major’ nutrients: fat, carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, and minerals, but there are so many, many more. Eating a balanced diet is the best way to be sure you get all of them.
It is recommended that persons who have CF and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), meaning you need to take enzymes, eat a diet high in calories. But does this mean you can eat whatever you want and not worry about nutrition? Not really, because in addition to added calories you need all of the other nutrients and extra vitamins. The best way to get vitamins is from the foods you eat, but because you have EPI your body cannot absorb all of the vitamins it needs from food alone so you need to take extra vitamins in the form of a pill.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are called fat-soluble vitamins meaning they are absorbed into your body attached to fat. Because of EPI not all of the fat-soluble vitamins in food are absorbed and a multivitamin supplement containing the fat-soluble vitamins is an important part of your daily care. A multivitamin designed for persons who have CF contains extra fat-soluble vitamins so you don’t develop vitamin deficiencies. To help your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins take you vitamin supplements with fat-containing food or drink, such as milk, and with your enzymes.
In future issues we will talk about each of the fat-soluble vitamins and their role in the health of persons who have CF.