belly-heartGreat news! We now have clinical trial evidence that a 14-day elemental diet is “highly effective” with an 80 – 84% success at eradicating small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) because: “Elemental diets have been shown to reduce enteric flora.”

Dr. Alison Siebecker has a lot of great information about SIBO and appropriate treatments and here is her info page on SIBO and elemental diets.

Interesting to note, the product used in the trial was Nestle’s Vivonex. However, on their product page for Vivonex:

Nestle does not give the full ingredient list – which I find crazy, but anyway, the important specs to note are that the maltodextrin (carb component) of Vivonex is 57 g and the protein is only 13.5 g

Whereas with Absorb Plus, the maltodextrin averages (between flavors) 53 g and the protein is 27 g per serving.

Keep in mind, the most expensive part of an elemental shake is the protein and amino acid component – this is where you’ll find most companies skimp – which is one of the reasons they’re cheaper than Absorb Plus.

Here’s the detailed ingredient list for Vivonex Plus I was finally able to find on Walgreen’s Pharmacy site – this is for the Unflavored version (so only good for tube feeding) BUT you can see from the ingredient list and the forms of some of the vitamins that the flavored versions are probably going to be artificial flavoring (I’ve bolded the worst offenders) – and the maltodextrin, cornstarch and soybean are likely GMO:

Maltodextrin , L-Glutamine , Modified Cornstarch , L-Leucine , L-Arginine Acetate , Soybean Oil , L-Lysine Acetate , Magnesium Gluconate , L-Isoleucine , L-Valine , Calcium Glycerophosphate , L-Phenylalanine , L-Threonine , Potassium Citrate , L-Cysteine Hydrochloride Monohydrate , Citric Acid , L Methionine , L-Tyrosine , L-Histidine Monohydrochloride Monohydrate , L-Aspartic Acid , L-Proline , Sodium Citrate , Sodium Phosphate Dibasic , L-Tryptophan , Potassium Chloride , Choline Bitartrate , L-Serine , L-Alanine , Glycine , Ascorbic Acid , Potassium Sorbate , Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids , L Carnitine , Zinc Sulfate , Niacinamide , Ferrous Sulfate (Iron) , Alpha Tocopherol Acetate , D-Calcium Panthothenate , BHA-BHT to Preserve Freshness , Alpha Tocopherol to Preserve Freshness , Copper Gluconate , Pyridioxine Hydrochloride , Manganese Sulfate , Vitamin A Palmitate , Riboflavin , Thiamin Hydrochloride , Folic Acid , Biotin , Chromic Acetate , Potassium Iodide , Sodium Molybdate , Sodium Selenite , Phytonadione Vitamin K1 , Cyanocobalamin Vitamin B12 , Cholecalciferol Vitamin D3

Absorb Plus uses only tapioca maltodextrin and all natural flavors and sweeteners. To avoid all fructose you would use the Unsweetened Vanilla Absorb Plus – and then sweeten it to your taste with Stevia.

We also have VEGAN elemental diet kits for those of you who are allergic to the whey isolate in Absorb Plus (contains no casein and no lactose) and these are also sweetened only with Stevia (a naturally sweet herb).

Complete instructions on following my ‘healing-spa version’ of an elemental diet are found in my book, The IBD Remission Diet. Or you can read a quick overview here.

Elemental Diets are Highly Successful with SIBO

24 thoughts on “Elemental Diets are Highly Successful with SIBO

  • do you have any testimonials of people using your elemental diet to treat SIBO? I’ve been doing a semi-elemental diet with the unsweetened absorb plus, and i feel it’s been helping.

    However, with my SIBO, I’ll likely need to do a full elemental diet, and I’m debating whether to use Dr. Siebecker’s formula or use absorb plus.

    Would love any feedback or information supporting the use of absorb plus for SIBO.


    1. Hi Jen,

      We’ve received feedback from customers via email, phone, blog comments and chat but no one has specifically left a testimonial at our testimonials page here:

      However, there is currently one review other than yours at the product page from someone with SIBO that was posted in November of last year:
      (click the reviews tab)

      If cost is a factor or you prefer the DIY approach, here’s a download link to Jini’s formula for a basic elemental shake as another option:

      Regardless of which path you decide to take, we’d love to hear more about your journey and thanks so much for writing in.

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

    2. Hi Jen,
      I’m a functional Medicine practitioner who specialises in clinical nutrition.
      My speciality is gut related problems. I find a that at least 70 percent of my serious gut patients test positive for SIBO.
      I have used absorb plus for my own daughter who I healed from indeterminate Chron’s colitis using Jini’s books whilst studying for a clinical nutrition qualification.
      I live in the UK and convinced one of the supplement companies to stock it here. It is now listed under the SIBO section on the website and is always sold out.
      I recommend it to a lot of patients and I especially recommend the unsweetened version to SIBO patients. I use Dr. Jacobi’s bi-physic diet along side absorb plus for extra protein and amino acids. I have almost 100 percent success rate with my SIBO patients. I can’t recommend it enough. I do also use it for flare ups and maintenance for patients with IBD too.
      I hope that helps to answer your question.
      Nishtha Patel

      1. HI
        Just read your interesting comment – when you use Absorb Plus, do you use it as full elemental or semi? I’m not well enough to do full elemental (I have severe M.E and am very underweight due to SIBO complications). Could it still be as effective as a semi elemental diet? Also a bit concerned about going from a very low carb diet to drinking shakes high in carbs!

        1. Hi Jennifer,

          Absorb Plus can be used as either a full elemental diet or semi elemental diet. Jini states in the The IBD Remission Diet, “The remission rates are not as high as a full elemental diet, but they are certainly high enough to be considered a serious treatment option.” If you would like to contact Nishta directly, please follow this blog where you can find her contact info and read her story,

          Kind regards,
          Customer Care

  • I have SIBO and am doing the Elemental Diet to heal from a terrible Crohn’s flare. If I have SIBO, do I need to avoid the sweetened varieties that contain Fructose? I’m trying desperately to get this right and not waste any time, but am afraid I may be setting myself back with the sweetened varieties. Any feedback you can give me would be VERY helpful! Thank you!

    1. Hi Martha,

      To be on the safe side, we recommend the Unsweetened Vanilla flavor for people with SIBO. There isn’t very much fructose in the other flavors (8g in the chocolate, for example) so it’s not terribly likely to cause issues if you purchased those and need to finish up some open containers. If you have concerns or feel like the fructose might be causing issues, you can always just mix 1 scoop of the sweetened with 3 scoops of the unsweetened for a full serving so that the sweetened tubs don’t go to waste.

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • I’m wondering what’s the best way to determine if you’re allergic/intolerant to Absorb Plus (whey)?

    I have moderate-severe IBD and IBS and I’ve been taking chocolate Absorb Plus for the past 5 days and I’ve been feeling more ill than before. I haven’t had dairy in 15 years due to apparent lactose intolerance. Within 1-10 minutes of starting a shake I need to run to the bathroom. I believe my stomach pains/nausea/stomach noises have gotten a bit worse and my bowel movements have doubled in frequency from about 10x a day to almost 20x. I started slowly with about 3 shakes a day (half elemental diet). Have not started the oregano or probiotics yet.

    Wondering if the sun warrior vegan protein would be better for me even though its not elemental?

    Your thoughts are greatly appreciated,

    1. Hi Sara,

      Our first recommendation would be to check out the link below to another blog post where Jini talks about possible signs of allergy and different things you can do to combat the symptoms you’re talking about if allergy doesn’t turn out to be the issue:

      If the whey protein ends up being something that you aren’t able to tolerate then the vegan protein might be a good option for you. If you haven’t seen it already, Jini talks all about how to build a vegan elemental shake here:

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • I am doing the elemental diet for SIBO but am sensitive to whey, so I got the vegan shake kit. But now having read the ingredient list more closely, I see it contains xantham gum which is an indigestible polysaccharide. Won’t this still feed the bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine if is not absorbed? I hate to think I wasted a week of just doing the shakes if it’s still feeding the bacteria.
    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, AJ

    1. I think you answered yer own question. It’s ALWAYS good to read ingredients lists and educate yerself on the consequences they can create. EXCELLENT observation!

      1. “Xanthan gum appears to have a high propensity for altering the gut microbiome, and it’s unclear whether that alteration could be problematic in the long run.”
        – Chris Kresser

  • Hello, I am currently battling SIBO for the 4th time and for the 1st time opted to do the Elemetal Diet. Unfortunately, I just discovered this website and wish I had the opportunity to compare the different products before starting on Integrative Therapuetics Elemental formula. I purchased 19 days worth already and started on Monday, Februray 19th 2017. I don’t see a protein content and my sinus feels disturbed. The taste is very tolerable but I am already starting to ecperience headaches and body aches. I would like to know if I can have bone broth from Grass Fed beef bone marrow while on the Elemental Diet or just use the shake?
    I have been immine compromised since a child and am now 56 years young. I have been soooo compromised for so many years with autoimmune, candida, thyroid, food poisoning, etc. I firmly believe the root of all stems from my gut and multiple infections…. in particular, Eptein Bar Virus. I have never been able to tolerate probiotics and have tried multiple. Your approach and support of Natren causes me to pause and greatly consider a trial. I will purchase your book today and further research. I desperaely want a LIFE!!! I have been so compromised for so many years. I hope your well researched and humane approach to service others as a result of your health recovery can be of great assistance to me.

    1. Hi Antoinette,

      Thank you for reaching out! Yes, you can alternate Elemental shakes with Bone broths since the gelatin in the broth is very healing for the gut and the savory soup provides needed taste variety. We wish you all the best on your healing journey!

      Kind Regards,
      Cris B
      Customer Care

  • Thank you Cris. I am interested in trying a Natren probiotic. Should I wait until after the Elemetal Diet? And which one should I try 1st, as I am extremely sensitive?

    Thank you

    1. You’re welcome! You can start the Probiotics supplementation while on Elemental diet and Oregano protocol. If you are highly sensitive, then start out with small amounts and very gradually build the dose up. In these cases, it is often best to start with an infant species of bacteria called B. infantis and then gradually work your way up to the adult species like L. acidophilus, B. bifidus and L. bulgaricus. You just have to test a little bit (a pinch, or 1/8 tsp) and see how your gut reacts. If you get too much die-off, or bloating etc. then it’s too soon, or you need to go slower. Everyone’s pace is different, so you need to listen to your own gut.

      Kind Regards,
      Cris B
      Customer Care

  • Thank you once again Cris. Should I consider taking some form of vitamins while on the Elemental Diet? I don’t know if I should concern myself with making sure I have enough nutrients in my system? I am fasting for 3 weeks and longer if I need to.


    1. Hi Antoinette,

      Yes, Jini recommends taking nano sized minerals, Vit D3, Cod liver oil, Pycnogenol, Coenzyme Q10, Ansgtrom Iron if you’re anemic and Vitamin C in mineral Ascorbate for your immune system. Each of these supplements is vital for healing the various symptoms, and they also work synergistically to accelerate healing. Also Jini recommends looking into all aspects in your life in healing, emotional, household products, etc. It can all effect your physical health. However, she does also recommend to listen to your body on what is best for you.

      Kind Regards,
      Cris B
      Customer Care

  • Hello, I’ve got SIBO and am on Day 12 of my 14-day Absorb-Plus powered elemental diet. I have a few questions.

    1. I ordered 2 tubs for a test, but then ran out before my bigger shipment of 7 tubs came in. In the mean time, I made my own shakes for 2-3 days using:

    1 scoop Now Sports Whey Protein Isolate
    50 grams maltodextrin (derived from corn)
    1 TBSP virgin cold-pressed Coconut Oil or Flax Oil
    vitamin capsules emptied into mix. (multivitamin, B-complex, E IU400, C-500)
    1 cup water

    Was the whey protein a good choice?
    I am scared that the maltodextrin being corn-based may have messed up the diet. The homemade shakes definitely didn’t satisfy like Absorb Plus does.

    2. If I wanted to adjust my macronutrients to fewer carbs and more protein in order to reduce body fat while on this diet, and replaced 1-scoop of Absorb Plus with 1-scoop of Now Sports Whey Protein Isolate, do you see any issue with this? Again, I’m trying to eliminate SIBO, so I wouldn’t want to do anything to reduce my chances of success.

    Finally, any suggestions on how to start eating after two weeks? Get back on low Fodmaps? Challenge phase? Just start eating hamburgers and ice cream again like the good old days?

    If it worked to eliminate SIBO, should I expect my symptoms to immediately go away when I start eating normal foods again?

    Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Sandy,

      Thank you for contacting Listen to your Gut. The goal is always remission so the transition back to normal food should start when symptoms have disappeared. We have not tested this type of Protein powder, so we cannot say anything about it. If you want to alternate Absorb Plus with a highly nutritious protein powder that we have tried and beneficial to get rid of SIBO, try this grass-fed whey protein that is minimally pasteurized and from completely grass-fed herds. BUT it also contains less than 1% casein AND less than 10% lactose!

      If you prefer a veggie protein, or just want some variety, we found a vegan sprouted brown rice protein that is not only sprouted, but also free of all the usual myriad of greens, seeds, roots and other nutrients that are great for normal digestive systems; but not so good for sensitive systems like SIBO.

      Yes, Fodmaps, then see if you can eat more. When starting a new diet Jini recommends to ask your body and gut how long it needs to be on. And then even if you start feeling better before the end of that time keep on the diet until that time as you could feel better without being as healed as you need to be.

      Then when you do feel you are well enough to go off the diet we would recommend still just adding in new foods one at a time slowly. Jini recommend just one new food every 3 days to make sure it is not bothering you. Also, best to do a food diary while doing these diets, supplements, and adding in new food to try to pinpoint if anything is bothering you.

      We hope that works out for you.

      Kind Regards,
      Cris B
      Customer Care

  • Hi there, excuse my ignorance on this as I might have missed it. I am thinking of doing an elemental diet for my SIBO.

    I would use the unsweetened powder. But, what else would I need to add? Is there a guide to go off of? I did watch one of Jinis YouTube’s and what ingredients she adds but I thought I’d ask

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for contacting us here. No, we don’t have a guide specifically for SIBO. However, as Jini writes in The IBD Remission Diet book, it’s a very good idea and she encourages you to add organic, unrefined, cold-pressed, flax seed oil to increase Omega-3 and ‘good fat’ (Essential Fatty Acid) levels in your body, if you wish. Jini didn’t include any flax oil in Absorb Plus because she wanted the product to work for people who have a complete fat intolerance, plus any cold-pressed oil needs to be kept refrigerated and in a dark container at all times or the fat denatures and becomes rancid so this would pose serious problems in shipping the product to you. Lastly, different people can tolerate different levels of fat (dependent on type and location of illness and degree of inflammation), so Jini felt it best to allow you to add the level of fat that’s right for you.

      Once you’re ready to to come off the elemental diet (as per Jini’s book, The IBD Remission Diet), we have some well-tolerated protein shake recipes here which are better tolerated than normal food. People use these shakes when they’re ready to transition off an elemental diet, before they start eating regular food. So these shakes may be all you need. Check link below:

      Please let me know if you have any additional questions,

      Cris B
      Customer Care

  • Hi,

    I have a quick question. Since the sugar content is so high, is there any sort of recommended fungal overgrowth preventative measure to take to prevent any sort of fungal overgrowth since it’s so hard to test for that before you start an ED? Seems like a high percentage of sibo sufferers also have coinciding fungal overgrowth too.

    1. Hi Eric,

      Thank you for reaching out! Absorb Plus uses Tapioca Maltodextrin because without it a bowel rest diet using only whey protein (no carbohydrate component) will quickly surpass your maximum daily protein limit whilst still feeling really hungry and tired. But more importantly, you will likely not gain any weight, so will remain very thin and weak, with low energy and lots of fatigue.

      In The IBD Remission Diet, SIBO (that can be exacerbated by the maltodextrin) is addressed by using Jini’s Wild Oregano Oil Protocol (a broad-spectrum anti-pathogen) in combination with high dose Natren probiotics and in many cases, people use Jini’s Probiotic Retention Enema as well. SIBO is also addressed strongly after the Diet, with high dose oral probiotic supplementation for at least 6 months. Many people (especially if they are infected with mycobacteria) also continue on Jini’s Wild Oregano Oil Protocol for 2 – 3 more years (cycling on and off every few months).

      Please check Jini’s IBD Remission Diet Chapter Three: Probiotics Supplementation – Page 72 and Chapter 6 pages 128-131 for Oregano Protocol.

      Kind Regards,
      Cris B
      Customer Care

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