How PediaSmart® Can Make a Difference for Children Living with a Chronic Illness
My name is Bryce, I am 27 years old and I was born with a genetic disease called Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The average life expectancy for me was 35 years old when I was born. Cystic fibrosis disease effects the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body, and now for those of us born with the disease that are living longer, there are many long-term issues we monitor, such as diabetes.
My lungs are most affected by CF, often causing me to be hospitalized. Right now, my lung function is approximately 50%, which is stable enough to live a full life, but also delicate enough where I have to do pulmonary therapy 3-times a day often adding up to 4 hours per day, every day.
I have always been thin. Though my lungs are most affected, one of my biggest struggles is gaining weight. Since my pancreas is impaired with CF related issues, I am unable to efficiently digest protein, carbohydrates and especially fat. When my lungs become infected from something as simple as a common cold, I can lose up to 10 pounds in as little as 3 days; and it can take up to 4 months to gain back the weight.
To help with weight gain, my doctor and dietician recommended caloric dense foods filled with sugar, fat and highly processed ingredients. This is a "eat fast food/gain weight" meal plan meant to achieve a calorie goal – not a healthy diet. When my dad, Jay Highman, founder of Nature’s One, realized the need for a product that could help CF patients like me gain weight, he was determined to innovate a nutritious, calorie-dense, organic beverage that kids would like to drink. In 2008, he introduced PediaSmart® nationally.
Six years later, I learned how important PediaSmart® was to me personally. After invasive stomach surgery and a month of hospitalization, I dropped 23 pounds. Now just 119 pounds when exiting the hospital, a feeding tube was inserted to help me recover the weight. Recovery was very difficult! It took me about a year to gain 10 pounds with a well-balanced diet in addition to using PediaSmart® to supplement.
Many CF patients experience adult-onset diabetes due to their unhealthy focus on “any and all” calories, not healthy calories. Today, I annually test for Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes (CFRD) and I am happy to say I am not even “pre-diabetic” like many. PediaSmart® Dairy Vanilla has 5 fewer grams of sugar per serving than the leading non-organic brand which is the most important reason as to why I use it. Choosing PediaSmart® as a healthy weight-gain option has kept me healthier overall.
Living a nutritionally aware lifestyle has made such a difference for me. I am celebrating my 1st wedding anniversary with my beautiful and wonderfully supportive wife, Gina. I am happy that those of us with CF are living longer and we have HEALTHY, organic, weight-gain options. Because of my successes in life, I will continue to be passionate about nutrition because I believe PediaSmart® does make a difference in cystic fibrosis patient’s lives.
- Bryce Highman