Background: Pancreatic enzyme replacement is the cornerstone of treating pancreatic insufficiency in patients with cystic fibrosis. Additionally, a high-calorie/high-fat diet is required to compensate for the increased energy requirement and the incomplete fat digestion. Even with adequate enzyme treatment, gastrointestinal problems, varying from simple constipation to inspissated stools, and distal intestinal obstruction syndrome (DIOS) may occur. Apart from residual fat malabsorption, a low fiber intake is suspected to be an underlying factor in gastrointestinal complaints.
Methods: We evaluated fiber intake in 40 patients with cystic fibrosis based on the dietary history method. Patients were classified according to gastrointestinal problems: group 1, no gastrointestinal complaints; group 2, nonspecific and mild gastrointestinal complaints; and group 3, documented DIOS.
Results: Overall fiber intake was adequate when compared with current recommendations. We could not show a relation between fiber intake and gastrointestinal complaints or DIOS. On the contrary, in patients with DIOS, fiber intake was higher, possibly as a therapeutic response to their gastrointestinal complaints.
Conclusion: Overall fiber intake is adequate in our cystic fibrosis population. We could show no relation between low fiber intake and gastrointestinal problems in our patients with cystic fibrosis.