I continually get questions from my readers who are either drinking a few Absorb Plus Elemental shakes per day (along with their normal diet) OR they are exclusively on an elemental diet and not eating any normal foods.
Both these scenarios may result in bloating (extended belly), which may be a sign of intolerance, but may also be just the normal effect of consuming an elemental food supply. Think of a breastfed baby, with it’s fat Buddha-belly. That is just how elemental foods affect our gut. When I was on the elemental diet for 7 weeks, my belly was so bloated I looked 4 months pregnant. But that quickly disappeared when I transitioned onto normal foods.
NOTE: Always be alert for signs of allergy or intolerance to any substance (headaches, nausea, skin rash, swelling of lips and throat, etc.). Unfortunately, many of these reactions also mimic the Herxheimer or Die-Off effect you experience when bad bacteria and yeast are leaving your body – so it may take week or two to be sure which one you are experiencing! Although any swelling of throat, lips, wheezing, or anaphylaxis are due to allergy, not pathogens dying.
Diarrhea or Liquid Stools
Absorb Plus or other elemental shakes will also produce marked changes in stool and bowel movements because elemental shakes (like Absorb Plus) are completely pre-digested food sources (just like breastmilk is).
The most common result is that the stool becomes more liquid (and therefore more urgent or explosive). When your stool consistency loosens, you can also have more frequent bowel movements.
If you are consuming Absorb Plus Elemental shakes with other foods, your stool may only become more mushy. But the most common result from an exclusive elemental diet (like The IBD Remission Diet) is to have frequent, loose, watery stool.
This is because Absorb Plus is a pre-digested, liquid food product. Therefore, whilst consuming it, you will have mushy or liquid bowel movements – they may feel and look like diarrhea, but they actually are not – there is no loss of nutrients or electrolytes – they are just reflecting the liquid nature of the food source. Think of how a breastfed baby receives premium quality nutrition, yet has up 7 or 8 liquid bowel movements per day. The same thing is happening here.
NOW, having said that, there are also instances where the elemental shake can cause constipation. This is because the carbohydrate component of the shake (tapioca maltodextrin) absorbs a lot of water. So if you are not drinking a full glass of water between shakes, or your body just naturally tends towards constipation, firmer, less frequent stools can also be the result.
You can combat these bowel effects by:
1. Taking a stool bulking and softening agent. Stool softeners (also known as stool bulking agents) will bulk up your stools by absorbing and holding water. Therefore, if you suffer from diarrhea, they help absorb the excess water in the colon. But if you suffer from constipation, they will keep your stools soft and spongy, stimulating peristalsis and making them easier to pass. Hence, in both conditions, they help avoid hemorrh