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Elemental Diet

When everything you eat makes you feel sick or in pain (or even causes intestinal bleeding), you quickly become afraid of eating. Combine this anxiety with the fatigue that accompanies a chronic illness like IBD, cancer, fibromyalgia or AIDS, and it becomes very difficult to ingest enough nutrients every day to meet your body's needs.

What if there was a pre-digested food, that only took 5 minutes to prepare and made your gut feel soothed and safe? A quick, easy, 100% natural way to nourish your body with top quality nutrition, from which all of the crucial nutrients could be properly digested and absorbed – regardless of the state of your gastrointestinal tract?

An elemental diet is a completely liquid diet with pre-digested nutrients that are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream (within 20 minutes). An elemental liquid diet gives your gastrointestinal system a rest, but still supplies your nutritional needs. It is also referred to as a bowel rest diet.

The stool that results from an elemental diet is greatly reduced in volume and usually liquid, so it gives your colon a rest from passing normal bowel movements, which can allow your colon and bowel to heal faster.

The elemental diet was first used by NASA as a convenient way to provide astronauts with optimum nutrition while limiting fecal matter (bowel movements). Elemental liquid diets have since been prescribed to treat serious inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease or with SIBO, or pre/post-surgery, Cancer, or other conditions that limit a person’s ability to eat or digest food effectively.

For extensive information on how to implement an elemental diet for IBD, including tips and tricks to make it easier, listen to (or read the transcript for) my Elemental Diet Teleseminar.

Elemental Foods:

Protein – free-form amino acids or di-peptide bond proteins only. Examples of allowable proteins include egg albumin, whey isolate (but not concentrate) powder, rice protein isolate powder, pea protein isolate powder.

Carbohydrates – carbs must be in monosaccharide form only. This means NO carbohydrates other than glucose, dextrose, fructose, xylitol, maltitol and other monosaccharide sugars. Maltodextrin (a glucose polymer) is also allowed.

Fats – cold-pressed beneficial oils only. Like flax, Udo’s, coconut, fish oil, etc.

Half Elemental Diet

A half elemental diet is one in which half of your daily nutritional requirements are supplied through an elemental liquid diet, and the other half through solid food. Researchers have established that half-elemental diets significantly lower the occurrence of relapses (symptom flare-up) in Crohn’s disease - see the study here. So those without the willpower, or the need, to do a full elemental diet, still have a good chance of avoiding flare-ups from only a half-elemental diet.

The IBD Remission Diet

This is a very specific natural diet and supplementation plan devised to induce disease remission - this is the protocol I invented and followed to go from 99 lbs and so weak I could barely walk to the toilet, to 135 lbs and working out at the gym in only 6 weeks time.

The protocol is designed to completely heal the GI tract, eliminating the bad bacteria in your intestine and replacing them with good bacteria, and restoring health and balance from the cellular level on up throughout the immune system. Although this elemental treatment is specifically formulated to address inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis, people may find other health conditions will also be resolved as the program facilitates extensive whole-body healing.

Typically, an elemental diet alone will not benefit people with ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis or IBS, however as the elemental diet is only ONE component of The IBD Remission Diet, thousands with colitis, diverticiulitis, or severe IBS have also used it as a tool to induce remission. This is most likely the result of the pathogens being cleared from the gastrointestinal tract and replaced with good bacteria, the supplements which heal the mucosal lining and intestinal wall, the whole-body detox provided by the elemental diet, and the myriad of bodily functions assisted by the targeted amino acid blend and other herbal supplements prescribed. Lots more info here.

Elemental Diet for SIBO

Elemental diets are useful for SIBO & IBS as a food clearance mechanism. Many things can irritate the gut, some of which we are completely unaware of, and the process of dealing with food elimination and food allergen testing is both labor intensive and time consuming.

People can use an elemental diet for a short period of time (example 2-3 weeks) to clear out whatever is irritating the gut, while still providing the body with top-quality nutrients. This builds muscle, helps to maintain weight, and can assist in weight-loss during that period (adjust calorie intake accordingly).

It also assists with the bacterial clear-out, because if you are not eating carbs, grains, beans, etc. there are no undigested carbs going into the colon or different parts of the small intestine for the bacteria to eat – thus shifting the gut flora. Of course, if you can add a natural antimicrobial and high dose probiotic supplementation at the same time, you can get the best results from your time on the diet!

Watch this video to learn more about which supplements to take, which foods are allowed, and how to HELP the diet get rid of bacterial overgrowth, Candida, etc. and balance your gut flora. Dr. Alison Siebecker has also found an elemental diet to be highly successful with SIBO patients.

Cleanse and Detox

As you know, people with inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome are hypersensitive, and have to be very careful in order to avoid a flare-up during detoxifying. A detox that works well for most people is to combine elemental shakes with vegetable, bone, and medicinal mushroom broths, along with fresh vegetable juices (if tolerated - with a little apple juice or stevia added for sweetness) and a number of targeted supplements.

How Many Shakes Will I Need?

If you are in an active disease state, then you need a lot of extra calories (and protein) for healing and tissue repair, in addition to the calories normally needed by a person of your height and weight. If you are a child or teenager (still growing), you also need a lot of extra calories to fuel your growth. If you are a tall or heavy person, you will need more calories per day than a short or small-boned, light person.

If you want to gain weight, then you need to take in extra calories – over what your body needs - to put on weight. If you want to lose weight, then calculate your intake of calories/liquid diet shakes according to your desired body weight, not your current body weight. This will allow you to lose fat, while still nourishing your body and your muscles.

How to calculate the number of elemental shakes you'll need per day, based upon your condition and your goals:

1. Gain Weight with Active Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Based on our experience with thousands of people with active inflammatory bowel disease who have used the elemental shakes I formulated (Absorb Plus, Absorb Element Plus, ElementGold, etc) the basic calculation for figuring out how many shakes you need to consume each day to gain weight (about 2 pounds per week) is:

  • An inactive adult: 17 calories per pound of body weight + 2 additional shakes per day.
  • An active adult: 20 calories per pound + 3 additional shakes per day.
  • Child or teenager: 40 calories per pound, per day (but a minimum of 5 shakes a day).
  • Pregnant or nursing woman: 25 calories per pound + 2 or 3 additional shakes per day.

Again, if in doubt, start with 6 shakes per day and then increase from there until you start gaining weight. The first time I went on an elemental diet (after a severe hemmorhage) I weighed only 99 pounds (I'm 5'7") and I drank 9 shakes per day and gained 36 pounds in six weeks. The second time I went on an exclusively elemental diet, I weighed 115 pounds, and I drank 6 shakes per day to gradually gain 5 pounds in three weeks. Calorie needs are very individual, so don't be afraid to experiment, especially if you have a high metabolism.

2. Maintain Existing Weight

Again, based on our experience with people who have used elemental shakes, the basic calculation for figuring out how many shakes you need to take in each day on an exclusively liquid diet is 17 calories per pound of body weight per day for an inactive adult.

This means if you are an inactive adult who weighs 120 pounds, you need to consume 2040 calories per day (120 x 17 = 2040) to maintain your weight. If you mix your elemental shakes with water and 1 tablespoon of flax or Udo's Choice Oil, then each shake will increase by 120 calories, due to the healthy oil added. So, for example, if you're using Absorb Plus or Element Plus, each shake would be 485 calories. Therefore, you need to drink 4.2 shakes per day to not lose weight.

  • The calculation for an active adult is 20 calories per pound, daily.
  • A growing child or teenager: 35 calories per pound, daily.
  • A pregnant or nursing woman: 25 calories per pound, daily.

If in doubt, start with 6 shakes per day and then increase from there until you start gaining weight. It's very individual; so don't be afraid to experiment. Remember, these calculations are for people using ONLY elemental shakes as their sole food source, during an elemental liquid diet.

3. Mixing With Food to Maintain Existing Weight with Active IBD

If you are using elemental shakes along with regular, well-tolerated foods, then use the calorie guidelines below, but drink only the number of shakes you need per day to make up the missing recommended calories from your regular diet.

  • An inactive adult: 17 calories per pound of body weight
  • An active adult is 20 calories per pound, daily.
  • A growing child or teenager: 35 calories per pound, daily.
  • A pregnant or nursing woman: 25 calories per pound, daily.

Note: You can use my list of Low Residue foods or FODMAP or SC Diet for well-tolerated foods.

If you want to GAIN weight, then:

  • An inactive adult needs to consume: 17 calories per pound of body weight + 2 additional shakes, per day.
  • An active adult: 20 calories per pound + 3 additional shakes per day.
  • Child or teenager: 40 calories per pound, per day (but minimum of 5 shakes/day).
  • Pregnant or nursing woman: 25 calories per pound + 2-3 additional shakes per day.

Note: Someone with a high metabolism may also need additional shakes to those given above. Basically, use these calculations to give you a rough guideline. But since each body uses calories differently, adjust up or down according to your body's needs.

Benefits of An Elemental Diet

  • Optimum nutrition with high quality protein
  • Rapidly absorbed into the blood stream (and therefore not recommended for some diabetics)
  • Pre-digested for maximum absorption and to be easy on the gastrointestinal system
  • Increased health and energy
  • Improved sleep
  • Can be used to gain weight, lose weight, or build muscle

Full liquid diets have been shown to be more effective than steroids at reducing inflammation and healing the mucosal lining of the intestines in people with colon and bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease and colitis. 

"Exclusive nutritional therapy shows a more rapid effect than steroids in inducing clinical remission, and is markedly more effective than steroids in producing healing of mucosal inflammation." - Dr. Robert Canani (Source: DDW Annual Meeting: Abstracts 103976, 107178, 2002)


Elemental Shake Recipes


Here are two of my favorite elemental shake recipes (which you could also use for smoothies or protein shakes):

Daily Super Health Shake
For vitamins in capsule form, open or puncture capsule and empty contents into shake, discard empty capsule shell. Blend or shake together in a BlenderBottle:

Your elemental diet shake
1-2 capsules of multi-vitamin/multi-mineral (Nature's Way is a good brand)
1000 mg. Vitamin C powder in Mineral Ascorbate form only (e.g. Vit.C as Calcium Ascorbate)
1 capsule of CoQ10, 60 mg.
1 capsule of grapeseed extract, 60 mg
1 tsp. - 1 tbsp. Udo's Oil (as much as you can tolerate)

*Use cold or room temperature water (spring or filtered recommended). Do not use hot water or it will denature ingredients.

Jini's Immune Support Shake
For vitamins in capsule form, open or puncture capsule and empty contents into shake, discard empty capsule shell. Blend or shake together in a BlenderBottle:

Your elemental diet shake
1 capsule of mixed 50 mg. B-complex vitamins (B vitamins are very strong-tasting, so you may wish to swallow this one separately rather than putting it in the shake)
1000 mg. Vitamin C powder in Mineral Ascorbate form only (e.g. Vit.C as Calcium Ascorbate)
400 IU capsule of mixed tocopherols Vitamin E (alpha, beta, delta, gamma tocopherols)
1 capsule of CoQ10, 60 mg
1 capsule of Pycnogenol, 60 mg.
1 tsp. - 1 tbsp. Udo's Oil (as much as you can tolerate)

*Use cold or room temperature water (spring or filtered recommended). Do not use hot water or it will denature ingredients.

Absorb Plus 2-Flavor Sample Pack with FREE IBD Remission Diet eBook
The ideal way to try Absorb Plus and also learn about an elemental diet to decide if it is the right treatment option for you at this time. This special offer includes:
  • 1 Single serving of Absorb Plus Chocolate Royale
  • 1 Single serving of Absorb Plus Unsweetened Vanilla
  • The IBD Remission Diet eBook by Jini Patel Thompson
Absorb Plus French Vanilla
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid meal replacement shake. Approximately 370 calories per serving. Certified Gluten-free (less than 20 ppm).
Absorb Plus Unsweetened Vanilla
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid meal replacement shake. Approximately 370 calories per serving. Certified Gluten-free (less than 20 ppm).
Absorb Plus Berry Fusion
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid meal replacement shake. Approximately 370 calories per serving. Certified Gluten-free (less than 20 ppm).
Absorb Plus Chocolate Royale
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid meal replacement shake. Approximately 370 calories per serving. Certified Gluten-free (less than 20 ppm).
Absorb Plus Simply Chocolate
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid meal replacement shake. Approximately 370 calories per serving. Certified Gluten-free (less than 20 ppm).
Absorb Plus Simply Vanilla
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid meal replacement shake. Approximately 370 calories per serving. Certified Gluten-free (less than 20 ppm).
Absorb Plus 7Plus Bonus Tub - Buy 6 Get 1 Free!
When you buy 6 tubs of Absorb Plus ALL TOGETHER in one order, you can get a 7th tub for FREE* After you have added your 6 full size (2.2 lb) tubs of Absorb Plus to your shopping cart, select which flavor you would like for your free tub and we'll add it to your order at NO CHARGE.
Absorb Plus Unsweetened Chocolate - 1 kg tub
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid dietary supplement protein shake. 360 calories per serving.
Absorb Plus Mocha Grande - 1 kg tub
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid dietary supplement protein shake. 360 calories per serving.
Absorb Plus Banana Coconut Creme - 1 kg tub
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid dietary supplement protein shake. 350 calories per serving.
Absorb Plus Caramel Toffee Twist - 1 kg tub
Absorb Plus is a delicious tasting, 100% natural, elemental (pre-digested for maximum absorption to bloodstream within 20 minutes of ingestion) liquid dietary supplement protein shake. 350 calories per serving.
7 Yummy Absorb Plus Recipes
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