Nutrition for Children with Cystic Fibrosis

by Margaret Ellis

Over the years, I have often heard Moms saying that they feed their CF child 120%.  This is understandable when you see how much more energy they need in order to breathe or to fight off infections as well as the fact that they won’t absorb their nutrients efficiently, even with the digestive enzymes.

My rule of thumb is to provide as many nutritiously rich food options and avoid those foods that just provide empty calories with very little or no nutritional value such as pasta or bread.   Good quality protein and healthy fats with plenty of vegetables and fruit will ensure they get all they need for growth, brain development, energy and immunity.

Fish, chicken, red meat, avocado, nuts, seeds and peanut butter will give good fats and proteins.  Plenty of vegetables as well as sweet potatoes and brown rice for low GI carbs that will also provide some vitamins and minerals.  Add protein or fat to a fruit to slow down the release of sugar from fruit which is high in simple sugars.  Try some nuts, seeds and cheese.

Offer high quality snacks between lunch and supper such as a fruit with nuts or seeds for example or rice cake with butter and peanut butter, cottage cheese, avocado or nut butters.   Dairy and sugar increase mucous production so try and keep these to a minimum.

Keep them well hydrated as they often lose their salt in their sweat and consequently don’t feel thirsty and won’t ask for something to drink.

Supplementing with a multi vitamin and omega 3 will help top up any nutritional deficiencies.  The B’s are good for energy and stress which they will all experience no matter what their age.

Anti-oxidants such as vitamin A, C, E, Selenium and zinc are vital for the immune and should be in the multi vitamin.   Brewer’s Yeast, Kelp, Cod Liver Oil and Molasses are the most affordable options when the budget is tight.

Vitamin D3 is well worth adding and is not expensive.  This is a very important nutrient for the immune and helps the absorption of calcium for the bones.  We so often keep them out of the sun or slather block out on them and they don’t get enough sunshine D J.

Omega 3 is a natural anti-inflammatory and when you need something more, Curcumin, which is a natural component of Turmeric and is something I highly recommend for anyone with respiratory issues is worth adding on a daily basis.

NAC, N-Acetyl Cysteine is an amino acid from proteins and this is very effective in thinning the mucous with the added benefit of detoxing the liver and clearing toxins from fungal problems that are often present.  (Keep them far from onions with black mould or stables with hay) It is also available as ACC 200 from your Chemist.

Exercise in any form is THE most important thing you can encourage them to do as this forces them to breath more deeply and loosens the mucous and is the most fun way of getting physio.

About Margaret Ellis: 

Margaret is a Therapeutic Reflexologist, an Iridologist, and has a Diploma in Clinical Nutrition from International Academy of Nutrition (Australia).  She says:

I have a 34 year daughter, who was diagnosed with CF at the age of 18 months in 1984.  At that stage, the average life expectancy was 14 and the oldest patient in Durban was 21 years old.

I made it my mission to keep her at optimum health so far as I was capable of and gave her the best nutrition I could, without restricting her from treats and day to day temptations and being pro-active regarding any chest infections.   Wherever possible, I tried the natural alternatives to antibiotics and boosting her immune, especially at change of season, using Propolis, Echinacea and homeopathic remedies.   This was the catalyst that drew me to studying nutrition and Reflexology.

She swam, did ballet and excelled at gymnastics, winning her Western Province colours five years in a row.  When she was 19, she performed in a circus travelling around the UK doing a trapeze act, which she loved.  She now lives  in London, has a regular job and is married to a wonderful South African man, not a clown from the circus!

Last year, she abseiled down Kings College Hospital for the CF charity and in June is hoping to do a skydive for CF.  Here she is in a recent photo, in her local gym (right)