Arteriosclerosis and heart disease
Does cystic fibrosis make us immune to that which ails our society? Everyone talks about how arteriosclerosis, heart disease, and diabetes result from poor eating habits, yet our diets don’t seem to take this into account. Why?
This is a very complicated subject. First of all, arteriosclerosis and the ensuing arteriosclerotic heart disease result mostly from four main factors: heredity, smoking, high blood pressure and high levels of blood fats (triglycerides and cholesterol). The last factor is not only caused by “poor eating habits”; hereditary diseases and the malfunction of certain organs are often involved. Cystic fibrosis causes insufficient absorption of fats, so blood fat levels are usually quite low. Pancreatic enzymes and a “rich” diet aim to rectify this situation, by bringing blood fats up to normal levels. This is essential because fats are necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
Diabetes is more prevalent within the cystic fibrosis population than the population in general. However, cystic fibrosis related diabetes (CFRD) is a distinct form of diabetes, even though it shares features with other forms of diabetes that are seen in the general population. People with cystic fibrosis are not more likely to have diabetes because of excessive sugar, but rather because their pancreas does not secrete enough insulin. In addition, chronic infections and acute exacerbations interfere with the effects of insulin in the body. Although CFRD can be a challenge to treat, most patients are best treated with insulin injections.
As for sugars, they must not be completely eliminated because they too are necessary for proper body function. Diabetics should avoid sugar in concentrated form (chocolate, sweet deserts), however. After this long preamble, I will now answer your initial questions.
· No, cystic fibrosis does not make us immune to the above-mentioned diseases, despite the fact that it naturally tends to lower blood fat levels.
· Dieticians design specific diets to achieve two goals: to provide enough calories, fats, sugars, proteins and vitamins to meet the body’s requirements and to maintain normal (neither too high, nor too low) blood sugar and fat levels