Elemental diets, hypoallergenic meal replacements, can be a very powerful tool for IBS and SIBO, including gas, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, loose stools, but also for joint pain and even for inflammatory bowel disease. Sadly, up until now, if a patient wanted to do a full elemental diet, they’d have to do it through a doctor’s office. I’m very pleased that we were able to bring to market a fully elemental diet that does not require a doctor’s recommendation.
They are hypoallergenic, meaning they are devoid of common irritants that can inflame and potentially damage your gut.
They are anti-inflammatory because of this.
The contents are pre-digested. Meaning the proteins are broken down, the carbohydrates are broken down, and there is little to no fiber.
Why this is helpful is because it can starve bacteria and
fungal overgrowths in the gut. This can actually be a very helpful and healing
thing for those who have intestinal inflammation and imbalances in intestinal
bacteria and fungus.
Elemental diets are…
Benefits of an Elemental Diet
This ties into the question, “why are these elemental diets helpful?”
Elemental diets reduce your exposure to foodstuffs that could be irritating the gut and therefore causing inflammation.
Because the ingredients are pre-digested, this is akin to giving your gut a break or a chance to rest. Now your gut doesn’t have to work so hard to break down all the food. It can actually focus on repair and regeneration. Think of it as if you had sprained your ankle. Your ankle can heal, but it’d be very hard for your ankle to heal if you were running three miles every day. So, the same parallel here holds where your gut oftentimes can heal if we can allow it a chance to rest.
Elemental diets have been documented in the published literature to reduce SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. I actually suspect the same thing is true for fungus. The way these elemental diets work is the nutrients in them are absorbed within the first few feet of your small intestine. So, the remainder, the majority of the small intestine and the large intestine, don’t have to work to process and digest these foods, and it also deprives the bacteria and fungus in the intestinal tract of the foods they need to survive.
There is a robust amount of documentation showing that elemental diets can actually reduce inflammation.
Reduces exposure to irritating foods
Gives your gut a chance to rest and regenerate
Reduces bacterial and fungal overgrowth
Elemental Diet Research
In brief, what does the evidence here show? What is the science-based recommendation? Well, if you scroll down on this page, you’ll be able to see a synopsis of the data, but thankfully there are a handful of trials that have shown in:
One remarkable study to decrease gastrointestinal symptoms as well as decrease SIBO
One study finding that the elemental diet can actually be as effective as prednisone for reducing the joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis
A number of studies in inflammatory bowel disease showing that the digestive tract inflammation and autoimmunity, that’s a part of that disease, can actually be very, very nicely attenuated by the use of an elemental diet
Elemental Diet Applications
Elemental diets, thankfully, can be used in a variety of
The simplest way may be to use these as a meal replacement. So, on some mornings or on most mornings, especially if you’re on the go, you can sip on one of these shakes during breakfast, and that can give your gut a chance to rest, heal, and to starve some of these overgrowths.
Now, you could also do this as a mini gut reset, where you use these liquid diets exclusively for anywhere from two to four days, and
All the way at the other end of the spectrum, and this is what’s been published in some of the peer-reviewed literature, you could be exclusively on elemental diet nutrition for anywhere up to two weeks.
So, there are a lot of options at your disposal. It depends on you, where you are on your journey, how severe your symptoms are, and how motivated you are. But the good news here is if this is used, at minimal, as a meal replacement or all the way up as a maximal approach for two weeks exclusively, there are options. You should be able to find an option along with this array that fits your motivation level and for your level of severity.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing – you can use elemental heal by itself or as a meal replacement for one or two meals per day
Use exclusively for 2-4 days for a gut reset
Can use it exclusively for up to two weeks
So, if you have not yet trialed an elemental diet, I would highly recommend it. Thankfully, we have an assortment of various elemental diet formulas to help you find the exact one that fits best for you. Low carb, whey-free, traditional, which would be with the use of whey protein, and in an assortment of different flavors. If you have not yet given this a trial, it’s something that is certainly worth a shot. It can be quite helpful, especially if you feel like you haven’t been able to get your gut fully healed. This can, for some cases, be what gets you over the hump.
Need help or would like to learn more?
View Dr. Ruscio’s additional resources
I care about answering your questions and sharing my knowledge with you. Leave a comment or connect with me on social media asking any health question you may have and I just might incorporate it into our next listener questions podcast episode just for you!
Transform your health
Every product is science-based, validated by real-world use, and personally vetted by Dr. Ruscio, DNM, DC.