Living With Cystic Fibrosis: Supplements for Coping
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a life threatening, hereditary illness that affects the lungs and stomach. Cystic Fibrosis causes a buildup of thick, sticky mucus that pools in the lungs and stomach causing damage to those systems. CF is usually diagnosed early in children and has no cure, it is a lifelong chronic illness that is frequently complicated by secondary infections.
Children and adults who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis must also live with CF related symptoms.
Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis
- Burning pain in chest or stomach
- Failure to gain weight
- Fatty or bulky stools
- Persistent cough – sometimes bloody
- Thick phlegm
- Recurring lung infections
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain
The average life expectancy for those suffering with Cystic Fibrosis is 37 years although with medical treatment and healthy lifestyle choices it is possible to live longer.
Because Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic lifetime illness it is important to do whatever possible lessen the symptoms caused by CF. This will not only help make those who have CF more comfortable, it will also help to combat the devastating effects of those symptoms with the goal of extending both the quality and duration of life.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with CF, it is important to work with your physician to develop a treatment plan. There are many supplements that can aid in the fight against CF symptoms. They can be used in conjunction with other treatment options so make sure to discuss the many options with your doctor. The more you know about supplements and treatment options, the better equipped you will be to formulate an action plan in the fight against CF.
Supplements for people living with Cystic Fibrosis
There are a number of supplements for CF that can give you relief of symptoms. Review the following options and the talk with your primary care provider about which will be the best match for your symptoms.
Beta – Carotene
Beta – Carotene is a Carotenoid found in certain fruits and vegetables. It is what gives carrots their orange color. Beta Carotene is also known as Vitamin A.
How Can Beta – Carotene Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Beta – Carotene has been found to significantly decrease some of the debilitating effects of lung disease and infection making breathing easier. It is also known to help those with stomach pain and constipation and can be beneficial to those who suffer from stomach symptoms caused by CF.
What Are Good Sources Of Beta – Carotene?
Your best sources of Beta – Carotene come from the fruits and vegetables themselves. Beta – Carotene is responsible for the bright color of of fruits and vegetables so generally, the richer the orange or yellow pigments the higher in Beta – Carotene it will be.
Examples of Foods naturally rich in beta carotene
Get creative! You can eat foods high in Beta – Carotene raw, steamed, stewed, dried or you can juice it for a healthy drinkable dosage of Beta – Carotene.
If you feel that tablet supplements are a better option for you then you can buy them over the counter in the vitamin section of your local market, however be aware that eating foods rich in Beta – Carotene have a higher absorption rate than taking them in supplemental form.
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
EPA is the fatty acid found in the meat of cold water fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon.
How Can Eicosapentaenoic Acid Help Cystic Fibrosis?
EPA helps speed up the healing of wounds. This can be incredibly helpful for CF sufferers whose lungs are constantly being damaged by the buildup of thick mucus. Helping bolsters the body's natural mechanism to promote healing can help keep the lungs functioning and fighting illness.
What Are Good Sources Of Eicosapentaenoic Acid?
Eating cold water fish is a good source of EPA. However most people do not eat the amount of fish needed to see beneficial results so taking a supplement is a great way to get the amount you need without worry. EPA comes in an oil based tablet and can be taken daily. It can readily be found in your nearest health store or local drugstore market.
Magnesium is a mineral important to healthy bone growth and structure. It has been found to be helpful in the treatment of many different ailments including CF.
How Can Magnesium Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Taking magnesium supplements daily has been shown to strengthen the lungs of children and adults suffering from CF. It also may be able to aid another medication called rhDNase-1 that is frequently used to treat CF. It works by thinning out the mucus and making it less elastic so that it is easier for those with CF to clear out their lungs. When rhDNase-1 is ineffective, adding Magnesium may help.
What Are Good Sources Of Magnesium?
Foods high in fiber are a great natural source of Magnesium. Leafy greens, oats and grains are all examples of foods high in fiber. Many people are Magnesium deficient so if you feel you are not eating enough foods rich in Magnesium then you should consider taking it in supplement form. Magnesium can be found over the counter at your local health or drugstore market.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Omega-3 Fatty Acid can be found naturally in the fat deposits of cold water fish such as tuna and salmon. It is considered a healthy fat and has many health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and contributing to healthy cardiovascular function.
How Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Omega-3 can help improve the healthy function of the lungs by combating inflammation. Because those with CF battle recurring lung infections and phlegm build up, the lungs are often inflamed and irritated. Being in this constant state of inflammation can negatively impact the immune system opening it up to infectious agents.
Omega-3 helps to slow the overproduction of mucus which is caused by bacteria buildup in the mucus. Omega-3 also lessens inflammation in the lungs. Therefore by slowing the overproduction of mucus and decreasing inflammation, Omega-3 helps stave off infection, respiration troubles and lowers the need for antibiotic intervention.
Omega-3 is known to reduce the risk of contracting pneumonia in patients with CF.
What Are Good Sources Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
There are several sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You can get it directly by eating foods that contain it naturally
High in Omega-3 Fatty Acid
- Lake trout
Omega-3 Fatty Acid can also be taken orally in traditional tablets or oil pills. Taking them in supplemental form is a great idea if you do not eat fish regularly enough. It’s easy, takes minimal time but can have such a positive impact on the health of those with CF.
Vitamin A is a vitamin found in some animals and foods that contain retinoids. Vitamin A helps to boost the function of our immune systems and improves the function of certain organs such as the eyes.
How Can Vitamin A Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Vitamin A supplements can be extremely important for those with CF. This is because those with CF often have a deficiency in vitamin A. Those with CF who have a deficiency in vitamin A tend to have higher occurrences of pulmonary disturbances or 2ndary infections. Therefore taking Vitamin A can help keep your CF symptoms in check.
What Are Good Sources Of Vitamin A?
The best source of Vitamin A can be found in foods such as fish oil, beta – carotene, milk and eggs. Eating these foods rich in Vitamin A can help a great deal. If you feel you do not get enough vitamin A from the foods you eat, consider taking a vitamin A supplement to augment your diet.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant. Although Vitamin E deficiency is normally uncommon, in some who have genetic disorders, like CF it is quite common. As this vitamin is vital for healthy functions, being deficient in it can exacerbate the symptoms of CF and make fighting off infection more difficult.
How Can Vitamin E Help Cystic Fibrosis?
If you having CF it is very possible that you also have a vitamin E deficiency. Having a deficiency can negatively impact your health and your CF symptoms. Make sure to contact your physician if you suspect you have a deficiency. They can run diagnostic tests to see if you are deficient and help you decide what supplements you should take to combat it.
What Are Good Sources Of Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is commonly found in many of the oils we use for cooking such as olive oil, sunflower oil and almond oil. It can also be found in green leafy vegetables, nuts and grains, butter and certain fruits.
Vitamin E supplements are also readily available at your favorite health or drug store.
Garlic is an herb commonly used for seasoning and spicing up food. It is also known to have many medicinal properties and has been used well into antiquity as a treatment for many different ailments.
How Can Garlic Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Garlic has antibacterial agents that help fight against some of the strains of bacteria often infecting those with CF. It is effective against Staphylococci, Enterococci and Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterias. Using gentle herbs that have antibacterial properties is a good way to help stave off infection without contributing to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
Garlic can be eaten raw, cooked, steamed, fried etc. It can also be taken as an oral supplement which can be found readily available at your nearest health food market or drugstore.
Ginseng is an herb commonly used in traditional Asian medicine. It is used in herbal remedies around the world. Ginseng is currently being explored in the treatment for several different ailments and has shown great promise and medicinal value.
How Can Ginseng Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Ginseng has demonstrated the ability to lower the production increase the clearance of bacteria buildup in the lungs of CF sufferers. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the most common bacteria strains found in those with CF. It is susceptible to the effects of Ginseng.
Ginseng is often found in tea or can be purchased in the form of a supplement. It is readily available for purchase over the counter at you local health store or drugstore.
Glutathione is a molecule made up of proteins that occurs naturally in your body. It is a powerful antioxidant and helps detoxify your system and eliminates free radical buildup.
How Can Glutathione Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Although Glutathione production occurs naturally in our body, those suffering from chronic illnesses, such as CF are often found to be deficient in Glutathione. Since Glutathione plays a part in keeping our bodies healthy and disease free, being deficient in it can exacerbate the symptoms of CF.
What Are Good Sources Of Glutathione?
There are several sources of Glutathione that you can utilize in your fight against CF symptoms.
Some foods rich in Glutathione
- Collard Greens
Bioactive Whey Protein is a great source of of Glutathione. If you are sensitive to dairy then look for lactose free Bioactive Whey Protein. Just make sure that it is Bioactive and that it also made from non denatured proteins.
Exercise is also a good source of Glutathione as it helps speed your body's natural production of Glutathione.
Green tea is a tea made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. It is used throughout asia and is very high in antioxidants. Commonly drunk by Japanese who also boast one of the longest lifespans by nation, it is known to have many medicinal properties.
How Can Green Tea Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Green tea has many health benefits. It is a powerful antioxidant and has antimicrobial properties. It has demonstrated significant activity against many drug resistant strains of bacteria commonly afflicting sufferers of CF. It has also shown an association with lower death rate from pneumonia CF patients who contracted pneumonia.
Green tea can be taken orally as a tea or in extract form.
Lactobacillus GG is a form of harmless bacteria also known as a probiotic. It occurs naturally in our stomachs, digestive and urinary tracts and does not cause infection or disease. It is a known as a healthy gut microbe and it contributes to healthy digestion and colonization of healthy stomach flora while obstructing growth of unhealthy or unwanted bacteria.
How Can Lactobacillus GG Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Lactobacillus GG slows the colonization and infection from Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, one of the common bacteria strains to infect those with CF. It reduces some of complications of lung infections and helps reduce the need for hospital admissions due to lung infections.
What Are Good Sources Of Lactobacillus GG ?
Lactobacillus can be found naturally in fermented foods such as miso, kimchi, soy, wine,yeasts and yogurts. It can also be taken in supplemental form. Because many Americans do not eat fermented food on a daily basis it is highly recommended that you get it in supplemental form. Lactobacillus GG can be purchased over the counter at your local health or drugstore.
Is a protein commonly found in milk products. There is a concentrated amount of this protein in colostrum and is one of the healthy properties that makes colostrum so beneficial to a newborn baby's immune system and overall well being.
How Can Lactoferrin Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Lactoferrin helps to defend against bacterial and viral infections that can plague those with CF. It has shown to work by inhibiting the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cenocepacia, two of the more common strains found in CF patients.
What Are Good Sources Of Lactoferrin?
Lactoferrin can be found in both cow and human milk however the amount of milk you would need to drink in order to derive therapeutic levels is pretty high. Therefore it is suggested that you look for Lactoferrin in supplemental form in order to get the most benefit from it.
Lactoferrin can be purchased over the counter at your preferred marketplace, health or drugstore.
Is a metallic trace element and is vital to human health and existence. It has many beneficial properties, one of which is strengthening the immune system which helps defend against and combat infections from bacteria and viruses.
How Can Zinc Help Cystic Fibrosis?
Because Zinc works to bolster the immune system and fight off infections it plays a vital role for CF patients in their fight to withstand the onslaught of infectious agents they battle with. Zinc usage in CF patients has been shown to reduce the intake of oral antibiotics needed by children and adults with CF and can be beneficial in those who suffer from an Zinc deficiency.
What Are Good Sources Of Zinc?
Zinc can be found in many foods. Red meat, poultry and certain sea foods like oysters are all wonderful sources of Zinc. It can also be found in some grains and nuts. Eating foods high in Zinc is a great way to start but if you are concerned you have a zinc deficiency, consider taking a supplement to help maximise the benefits you can derive from having zinc in your system.
Learning to live with Cystic Fibrosis
Living with Cystic Fibrosis can be very difficult. However with the right tools and information you can help minimize suffering and maximise the good days. Learn about CF and find out all the treatment options that are available to you. Work closely with your physician to formulate the best treatment options for you or your loved one.
Understand there will be bad days and time spent in the hospital combatting infection. Because this is such a debilitating chronic disease, you should also do whatever you can to help cope with the day in day out obstacles you may encounter with CF. This could include counseling, support groups, stress management, exercise, meditation or acupuncture therapy. Just remember to take everything one breath at a time and never give up the fight.