Constant exposure to oxidants is a part of everyday life. Oxidants are found everywhere, from the air we breathe to the bacteria in the environment. However, people with cystic fibrosis are exposed to oxidants more than people without CF. Beginning in infancy, high levels of airway inflammation are seen in people with CF and actually produce oxidants that damage the lungs. Bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa that commonly infect the lungs of people with CF produce even more oxidants.
A healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables and fat-soluble vitamins can boost antioxidant protection, but only if those nutrients are properly absorbed through digestion. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines recommend 2 servings of fruits and 2 ½ servings of vegetables a day.
For people with CF, poor digestion makes it harder to absorb vitamins and antioxidants from the foods they eat. Researchers are looking for alternative ways to deliver antioxidants to people with CF.
Ways to Get More Antioxidants
- Buy ready-to-eat green salads and baby carrots, and have them with dressing or dip.
- Keep a bag of shredded carrots in the refrigerator. Add them to meatballs, meatloaf and spaghetti sauce.
- Add chopped vegetables to lasagna or pizza.
- Double the size of your serving of vegetables at dinner.
- Sprinkle raisins, dried berries or sliced fresh fruit on your cereal.
- Add sliced tomato, avocado or other veggies to your sandwich.
- Drink grape juice.
- Make fruit smoothies.
- Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter so you will think to eat it.
- Order sweet potato fries instead of regular French fries.
- Add fresh fruit to yogurt, salads, pancakes or ice cream.
- Have fruit pie for dessert.
- Enjoy salsa and guacamole with corn chips.
- Try spinach artichoke dip or guacamole dip.