An elemental diet is a liquid diet consisting of completely pre-digested nutrients that include a combination of: protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It is highly beneficial to also add an ample amount of Essential Fatty Acids such as, flax oil or coconut oil (MCTs).

Elemental Foods:

Protein – free-form amino acids or di-peptide bond proteins only. Examples of allowable proteins include egg albumin, whey isolate (but not concentrate) powder, rice protein powder, pea protein powder.

Carbohydrates – carbs must be in monosaccharide form only. This means NO carbohydrates other than glucose, dextrose, fructose, xylitol, maltitol and other monosaccharide sugars. Maltodextrin (a glucose polymer) is also allowed.

Fats – cold-pressed beneficial oils only. Like flax, Udo’s, coconut, fish oil, etc.

An elemental diet (also known as an enteral diet) is often prescribed for people who suffer from autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s Disease, Diverticulitis, AIDS and severe cases of Cancer. Elemental diets are also used for pre and post-surgery patients who are not able to eat solid foods or who are malnourished.

Clinical Trials & Difficulties

Recent clinical trials involving children with active Crohn’s disease in England and Italy have demonstrated that “elemental diet therapy is as effective as steroids in inducing remission in people who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders whilst avoiding steroid side effects”(1). As a result of these clinical trials, it is now beginning to be understood that an elemental diet can be used as an alternative to using steroids like prednisone, which can have undesirable side effects.

Following an elemental diet is a difficult undertaking requiring a lot of self-discipline. If you’re going to undertake something as difficult and restrictive as an elemental diet, then you might as well fully commit to it and use the period to facilitate a complete overhaul and root-level healing of your body and immune system.

Elemental Diet Shakes

Many of the elemental diet formulas are primarily used in hospitals. Unfortunately, they are poorly formulated. Oftentimes they taste bad, are loaded with artificial flavors and sweeteners, large amounts of sugar (in relation to maltodextrin) and high levels of low quality oils – which can actually result in painful intestinal spasming. The protein source often contains casein (the milk protein most people with a milk allergy are allergic to) and lactose.

To date, the highest quality and most tolerable, liquid diet drink is a powdered formula made by Imix Nutrition called Absorb Plus. It has been specifically designed for people who need a completely pre-digested diet. Although it can also be used for either losing weight, while maintaining muscle mass, or gaining weight by building solid muscle mass, not fat.

The IBD Remission Diet

Absorb Plus can also be used in conjunction with The IBD Remission Diet – a very specific natural diet and supplementation plan devised to induce disease remission. The protocol is designed to completely heal the GI tract, eliminating the bad bacteria in your intestine and replacing them with good bacteria, and restoring health and balance from the cellular level on up throughout the immune system. Although this elemental treatment is specifically formulated to address inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis, people may find other health conditions will also be resolved as the program facilitates extensive whole-body healing.

Typically, an elemental diet alone will not benefit people with ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis or IBS, however as the elemental diet is only ONE component of The IBD Remission Diet, thousands with colitis, diverticiulitis, or severe IBS have also used it as a tool to induce remission. This is most likely the result of the pathogens being cleared from the gastrointestinal tract and replaced with good bacteria, the supplements which heal the mucosal lining and intestinal wall, the whole-body detox provided by the elemental diet and the myriad of bodily functions assisted by the targeted amino acid blend and other herbal supplements prescribed.

(1) Dr. Bhupinder Sandhu, DDW Annual Meeting: Abstracts 103976, 107178. May 19 & 21, 2002

What Is An Elemental Diet?

35 thoughts on “What Is An Elemental Diet?

  • Hello Jini, my husband was recently diagnosed with UC (he’s 41). They put him on asacol without knowing that he developed a serious case of C-diff. He stopped eating solid food over 2 weeks ago. We spent 4 days at the hospital with IV and potassium and antibiotics when we started Absorb Plus. We’re mixing only 2 scoops by now and he had it 4-6 times in the last 48 hours. His heart rate speeds up right after each shake (between 115 to 130) and eventually it normalizes. Wanted to ask you if you know why could this be happening; if anybody else had this experience and what can we do at home to slow him down. Thanks much!

  • JOAQUINA – I would seriously consider doing the full IBD Remission Diet, along with wild oregano oil and probiotics, to prevent secondary or opportunistic infection – if you aren’t already.

    Regarding the rapid heartrate, that question is answered in our Absorb Plus FAQ:

    I’ll also post it here:

    We have had several customers who experienced a rapid hearbeat on Absorb Plus shakes. Some doctors have theorized it’s due to the very rapid uptake of nutrients to the bloodstream. For all of the customers who experienced this, it was a temporary thing that resolved automatically when they stopped drinking the shakes (many were on an elemental diet, so consuming 6-8 shakes per day). However, please consult your doctor for more advice and to make sure it is not due to any other factor.

  • Jini,

    What would be the best things I could do until I can afford to order Absorb Plus? I am in the middle of a Crohn’s flare. 99 pounds at 5’7″ and totally exhausted. I am a stay at home mom of 2 young children, and my husband is the only one working, so we are only 1 income. I need to hold out until tax returns…probably 2 more months. Should I just ramp up the probiotics and hope for the best? I’ve done the 6 wk elemental diet 2 times in the past and it has worked wonders. So frustrated at this point, because I know how good I can feel after doing the elemental diet and putting on weight!

  • Jini, My husband started having diarrhea with bleeding 10x’s per day. Curently my husband(Henry) is taking 1200mg of Asacol, and just reduced his steroid to .5mg/day today. He has been on steroids for the last 3 years. He started on the Absorb plus two days ago including the (powdered) probiotics,Georges Alovera, MucosaHeal and Oil of Oregano. Please let me know if he will be able to heal while he is still taking the Asacol and steroids or does he have to be off of all these drugs.

    1. Hi Marlene,

      I’m afraid we’re unable to advise you regarding your husband’s drug regimen and whether or not he should continue taking them.

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • Hi, I misjudged the days before I needed to order more Absorb Plus. so I will run out a few days before I can get more. I have been on the Absorb Plus shakes for 3weeks without any other food. I was wondering what I can eat that won’t mess up my progress that I have made too much? And also what I should eat after I get off the Absorb Plus. Is there a website that has things I can eat. I do have the IBD Remission diet and Listen to Your Gut books. I saw the reintroduction chart but was hoping to find some recipes and or a little more in depth guide. Thanks Jennifer

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      The chart you mentioned on page 251 is explained at the bottom of page 242. From that page on, Jini makes many suggestions on various things you can eat based on what symptoms are troubling you the most or what you’re trying to do.

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • Hi, my daughter is about to start the IBD remission diet. For 3 months she was on Flagil and Cipro (as well as probiotics). Does she still need to do the oregono protocol now or should she stay only on probiotics?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Inna,

      If she is taking probiotics then she should benefit from the wild oregano as well because any bad gut flora will still need to be reduced/eliminated as she’s concurrently repopulating with good gut flora.

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • I am happy to hear that children have had success on the elemental diet. How long is it recommended for children to be on? I don’t have the book yet, so I don’t have all of the information. I’m concerned about trying to keep a 5 1/2 year old who is starting kindergarten on a liquid diet for an extended period of time.
    Thank you,

    1. Hi Amber,

      The goal is always remission so the transition back to normal food should start when symptoms have disappeared and healthy weight is being gained. More details about elemental diets can be found in Jini’s book, The IBD Remission Diet:

      All of Jini’s other protocols can be found in her main book, Listen to Your Gut:

      If you have any additional questions please let me know!

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

    1. Hi Cindy,

      Jini recommends a number of supplements for people with diverticulitis and we aren’t aware of any reason why any of them might be detrimental during a flare. Check out the link below to read more about Jini’s recommendations. The info about vitamins is about halfway down the page in the “Resolving Nutritional Deficiencies” section:

      If you have any additional questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • Regarding rapid heart rate after drinking absorb plus, it may be due to potassium or iodine especially if person is low weight. The thyroid can cause it whether hypo or hyper according to my internist.

  • I have Crohn’s & I am going to start the vegan elemental diet from ltyg & would like to know how long I should maintain the diet & how I will know when it is ok to start consuming solid foods again. I feel as though I have my symptoms under control for the most part compared to a massive C-diff induced flare I was in for about 6 month last year but a recent colonoscopy showed lots of active inflammation. I have frequent bathroom trips (between 4-10) with (narrow)formed stools daily with little to no blood so considering where I was with the C-diff, 20+ bathroom trips with TREMENDOUS amount of blood and MAJOR incontinence, this is quite the improvement in my opinion…

    1. Hi Jamie,

      The length of time you choose to remain on an elemental diet should be guided by three factors: The severity of your illness when you first begin (and how long you’ve been ill for), the status of your ongoing symptoms as the diet progresses, and most importantly, your intuition. For more details, check out the section starting on page 33 of Jini’s The IBD Remission Diet book.

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • I feel intuitively that the elemental diet will help me. I have crohn’s. I can tolerate some solid foods, and I’m following the low residue diet now. I don’t have an issue with bleeding at all and my weight is stable. Should I just start with half elemental then–following the diet and also eating some solid foods? I’m just worried about the die off effect if I go full elemental. When I’ve experienced this before when I’ve taken other natural substances I’ve had major pain and nausea and then it becomes hard to eat anything. Also, how does one get a source of iron on the elemental diet?

    1. Hi Heather,

      Since your weight is stable and you aren’t dealing with bleeding, a fully elemental diet is likely not necessary for you at this time, as you said. Your intuition (gut!) seems to be guiding you well so semi-elemental should be a good place to start if you want to supplement your existing array of tolerable foods and maybe gain a little healthy weight along the way.

      For iron, Jini has found that nano-sized iron supplements seem to be the way to go because, unlike regular iron supplements, the iron does not require digestion so it won’t aggravate your digestive system. We’ve received a lot of good feedback about it as well. For more info, check out Jini’s blog post at the link below:

      We have the product available at our shoppe here:

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • “use within 30 days of opening” – I have a sample container of Vanilla Absorb Plus Unsweetened that I never tried but has been opened for far longer than 30 days. I would like to try it but saw this warning. Why should it not be used if it’s been opened?

    1. Hi Janine,

      That recommendation is mostly for the best taste. As long as the container has been sealed and stored in a dry environment at room temperature it should be fine as long as it isn’t expired.

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • Long story short: emergency Colostomy for peritonitis from ruptured diverticulum 2010. Hartmaans Colostomy should have been reversed but was not. Parastomal hernia, incisional hernia, bowel obstructions, and renewed pockets of diverticulitis, so its come back even after having 21″ of my large colon removed. Too heavy from steriods, anti-depressts to have hernias corrected, cant walk more than 8 mins, no life, a shut-in. Bad bowel pains, blockages on a regular basis. My question is how can bone broth be called elemental? Is it predigested by long cooking?

    Been on kefir and water only 2 days and feeling ten times worse. Cooking chicken with some veggie stock I made myself, liquidizing it. But is it elemental?

    Or should I just stick to hot water with Swiss formula veggie stock no additives?

    No way can I afford your books or products, cant work – yet not classed here (UK) as disabled. Money very tight.

    Any tips or advice much appreciated but understand you cannot help as a
    qualified doctor (thank God).

    1. Hi Judy,

      Bone broth (clear soup) made from the skin, bones and white connective tissue of animals, contains a wonderful healing substance called gelatin. French research until the 1950’s shows that gelatin was used in the treatment of diseases such as ulcers, jaundice, diabetes, infection and cancer. Bone broths contain
      minerals like calcium, phosphorous, sulphur, silicon, magnesium and trace minerals – all in forms the body can instantly absorb and utilize. As the cartilage and tendons are broken down, substances like chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine are also made available to the body in highly absorbable forms. For more info about bone broths, check out the link below:

      Regarding elemental alternatives, Jini did a post about using common foods to heal IBD here:

      Also, here’s a post where she talks about options when you can’t afford to do an elemental diet:

      Hope this helps and we wish you all the best on your healing journey!

      Kind regards,
      Customer Care

  • I am on the banana diet but having trouble finding an oil that works for me. Can i use olive oil instead of coconut and flax? Also would mothers choice organic grass fed butter work as a good probiotic?
    My drink:
    1 banana
    1/2 avocado
    1 coconut
    1tbs olive oil
    1tbs mothers choice butter
    1tbs chlorella
    pinch of salt
    pinch of cinnamon

    1. Hello Austin,

      Thank you for your inquiry. Cold-pressed Extra-Virgin Olive oil can be used in place of the other oils in the shake, as well as the organic butter. If you wanted to do the full elemental diet you wouldn’t want to put solid coconut, salt or cinnamon in it. However if you are just doing the partial elemental diet they should be ok as long as you feel your gut can handle them.
      You may want to look into the IBD Remission Book for more details on the elemental diet, as well as recipes and other useful information:

      As for a probiotic, butter is not a probiotic, probiotics are a supplement. You can sign up for more information on probiotics in the pink box on the left of this page:
      Please let us know if we can help with anything else.

      Kind Regards,
      Customer Care

  • What about natural, raw honey as a sweetener/carbohydrate? I’m a beekeeper and have this wonderful healing substance in my backyard. It’s anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, etc. You can spread it directly on open wounds, etc. and it is a great healer. What will it do in the gut?

    1. Honey is not a monosaccharide sweetener, so is not allowed on an exclusively elemental diet. Also, if I were using it as a gut-healing agent, I would take it on an empty stomach, either on it’s own, or mixed with aloe vera.

      1. This is old but it’s my understanding that honey is indeed a monosaccharide, as laid out in Elaine Gottschall’s book, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle.” It’s a fabulous, healing food.

        1. Hi Heather,

          Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! If you have any additional sources or links to share about honey as a healing food, we’d love to check them out.

          Savannah B
          Customer Care

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