Occasionally I get an email from a reader with extreme sensitivities, allergies, or intolerances who would like to know HOW to customize an elemental shake for bowel rest.

For example, this one:

“Is there a way to make a gluten “Cross reactant” free version of Absorb Plus? I seem to have severe neurological side effects to carob and tapioca and vanilla…Flavors I seem okay with are mango, blackberry, and apple. I also have MCAD, and Histamine intolerance. I know you can’t change everything for everyone, that would be ridiculous. I’m just hoping there is a solution. Thank you for your time. (I can’t tolerate banana either or I’d have tried the DIY elemental in the blog). Thank you for all of the resources you provide, you’ve helped me feel not as alone. All the best!”

Okay, so first of all the “DIY elemental” shake made with banana she’s referring to is not elemental. It is a very easily tolerated shake and makes digestion/absorption much easier on the gut (that recipe and more are here) but it is not completely pre-digested. Here again are the ONLY parameters of an elemental shake – according to the clinical trials that established the efficacy of elemental diets to induce remission for Crohn’s disease:

Protein as free form amino acids and/or di-peptide bond proteins only
Fats as MCT, cold-pressed flax, Udo’s, coconut etc. (but MUST be cold-pressed)
Carbohydrates as monosaccharide sugars only (glucose, natural fructose, dextrose). The only exception to this rule is maltodextrin (a glucose polymer)

So as you can see, you cannot add ANY normal/regular foods to your shakes and still have them classed as “elemental” or polymeric.

What you can do, is to purchase an unflavored whey isolate (must be isolate, not a whey concentrate) or unflavored rice protein isolate and mix that with whichever maltodextrin you can tolerate. Tapioca maltodextrin is a good option, or you could also use corn maltodextrin. However, it is very hard to find non-GMO corn maltodextrin in North America – and corn is a common allergen. If you ordered from a European supplier, you could probably find an organic, non-GMO version there.

Rice maltodextrin is another option and likely well tolerated. Do a web search for “buy rice maltodextrin” and it will let you know of suppliers in your area, like this one.

Once you have your protein and your maltodextrin, you can use this guide to mix your shakes in the proper proportions. Of course, you can always use less maltodextrin if you are not malnourished and if you don’t need to gain any healthy weight.

If you wish to add flavors to your DIY elemental shakes, then use these organic flavor concentrates from Nature’s Flavors – they are compatible with an elemental diet and instructions for using/mixing the flavors into your shakes are here.

And if you want to know which other supplements we add to the shakes during The IBD Remission Diet, then check out the one week supply kit we carry (original and vegan versions of Absorb Plus available).

Hope that helps, and if you have any questions just leave them below!

Most recently updated November 2020.