Wow! This is great news for those of you who have been on my IBD Remission Diet – or are considering it – or for those of you who use Absorb Plus (the elemental shake product I formulated) on an ongoing basis.

Dr. Silvio Najt, MD (who used my IBD Remission Diet to heal his daughter’s colitis) just sent me this clinical trial where they assessed 26 patients with Crohn’s Disease, who used a combination of an elemental diet for half of their food intake (900 – 1200 calories per day) and then whatever they wished for the other half (“free diet”).

The control group consisted of 25 patients also with Crohn’s Disease who just consumed an unrestricted diet, whatever they wanted to eat (100% free diet).

Then, they measured the recurrence of relapse (symptom flare-up) over a two year period. The relapse rate in the half elemental diet group was significantly lower – only 34.6% – versus a relapse rate of 64% in the free diet group.

Although this is a rather undefined study, with lots of unknown variables and many of the patients were also taking some kind of drug, it does still provide an interesting scenario to explore and test. It is good news because it means that using an elemental shake product long-term (2 years) is still beneficial, but it should not be directly equated with outcomes of people using Absorb Plus or following my IBD Remission Diet. I’ll explain why…

The elemental diet product used in this study is Elental – I couldn’t get an ingredient list for this product (in English), but it is manufactured by Ajinomoto – the principal manufacturer of MSG in Asia, so I wouldn’t think the ingredient quality would be anywhere near the high standards of Absorb Plus. I suspect it would be more equitable with the typical pharmaceutical elemental products like Peptamen, Subdue, Modulen, etc.  Just comparing the ingredients, one would expect Absorb Plus to produce even better outcomes.

an image of protein shake in a tall glass with whey powders kept in different bowls on the side

Next, there is an entire world of difference between a medical elemental diet and The IBD Remission Diet.

An “elemental diet” typically means the person just drinks pharmaceutical elemental products. But the IBD Remission Diet combines the highest quality elemental shake (Absorb Plus) with a complete healing regimen designed to:

  • eradicate pathogens using wild oregano oil
  • repopulate the GI tract with good bacteria
  • provide extensive healing to many organs and systems of the body via targeted supplements like L-glutamine, CoQ10, Pycnogenol, Bioflavonoids, Vitamin C, George’s aloe vera juice, MucosaCalm, etc.
  • It also provides key rebuilding and strengthening via homemade bone and medicinal mushroom broths and 10 specific therapeutic amino acids.

This is why the IBD Remission Diet is effective whether you have Crohn’s, colitis or even IBS – it is not just a diet, it is a complete targeted healing program.

But getting back to this half-elemental diet clinical trial – I’m still happy to have it as it some interesting data on the different ways you can use an elemental diet. Many people cannot adhere to a 100% elemental diet, so this is good alternative for them to try. Not as effective as an exclusive elemental diet, but still a significant improvement in outcomes.

What I would suggest though, if you want to try a half-elemental diet, is that instead of eating ‘whatever you want’ for the free diet portion, you do implement one of the following options, in conjunction with Absorb Plus:

1. For the “regular food” portion of a half-elemental diet, here are some very well tolerated shake recipes using gentle food ingredients you can find at your local grocery store or farmer’s market.

2. If you can eat some regular food, then sticking to this list of low-residue foods – tailored specifically for IBD – may help keep your gut happy. Along with probiotics and possibly wild oregano oil to combat intestinal infection.

3. Here are 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.

4. Or you can use my Food Reintroduction Chart (given in Listen To Your Gut and The IBD Remission Diet) and try to stick to the foods listed in Phases 1 and 2. These foods have a history of being well tolerated, yet nutritious. If this is too difficult, then at the very least, stick to the Maintenance Diet guidelines (again, given in both books) and avoid these top allergen foods: dairy, wheat (gluten), corn, soy, sugar and refined carbs.

I suspect this will further improve relapse rates from those listed in this clinical half-elemental trial.

Many of my readers also use Absorb Plus intermittently – when they feel themselves getting run down, or in danger of a flare, they go on Absorb Plus shakes and bone broths exclusively for 3-7 days and then gradually go back to their well-tolerated foods.

Here are two common questions I get asked about elemental diets:

What is the longest amount of time I can stay on an elemental diet?

I had one reader who used The IBD Remission Diet exclusively for three months (the usual duration is 6 weeks). I had another reader who used it for the entire duration of her pregnancy, but she combined it with juicing raw vegetables to provide vital phytonutrients. Her baby was born normal weight, scored high on the Apgar test and 3 years later was still healthy.

Another of my readers consumed nothing but Absorb Plus, as his sole food source, for two years non-stop. He was able to get a letter from his doctor saying it was a “medical necessity” and thus get his insurance to cover the cost.

Is it okay if I use Absorb Plus long-term, once or twice a day?

Well, that’s the great thing about this study, because it shows that not only is it okay, it’s beneficial. However, I do need to say that if you can obtain and tolerate raw milk, I do feel it is better to use that than any whey protein or elemental shake – simply because it is an unprocessed food. I have other readers who use Absorb Plus ongoing to replace either breakfast (because they don’t have time) or supper (because their system is more sensitive in the evening and they find they sleep better).

stack of 3 Absorb Plus shake poweder bottles

I have other readers who travel a lot for work, so they always take Absorb Plus with them – one of my readers is a film producer and he often goes to locations where finding healthy food is a hassle, so with his suitcase filled with Absorb Plus and Udo’s oil, he doesn’t have to worry about it.

Other readers just go repeatedly on and off the IBD Remission Diet, according to how their symptoms are doing. If they’ve eaten unhealthy food, drank too much alcohol , partied too much, work is stressful, their baby is keeping them up at night, etc. then they will just go on the IBD Remission Diet until things (and their gut) calm down.

As Dr. Najt, MD says: “These diseases are so linked to the emotional and stressors, that there’s no point in talking about a ‘cure’. It’s more about the Healing Journey and dealing with things as they arise.”

I agree, the point is to continually spiral upward, strengthening the body, healing and balancing it so that its ability to handle stressors increases. Whilst simultaneously healing our emotional patterns, beliefs and blocks that predispose us to illness in the first place.

p.s.  One important thing to keep in mind with any elemental product or whey protein shake, these substances are very sticky on the teeth. So you need to brush your teeth really well, paying particular attention to the gum line, where they tend to adhere the most. Personally, I would use an electric toothbrush as regular brushing just doesn’t clean the teeth well enough.