The Elemental Diet: Uses In IBD, Bowel Rest, Malabsorption, and More

Secure Ordering | Free Shipping | 20% Off Retail Prices

Along with providing information on whether Elemental Diet supplements might be right for you, this article also links to Fullscript where you can buy Elemental Diet supplements online through the secure healthcare formulary and get free shipping and 20% off the retail price of professional-grade supplements.

An “Elemental Diet” is a specialized nutrition strategy that may be beneficial for those with specific dietary needs or digestive health concerns. It is made up of nutrients in their simplest form, making them easily digestible and highly absorbable. This article looks into the various benefits of elemental diet formulations, highlighting their role in managing digestive disorders, providing nutritional support during illness, and catering to the needs of those with food sensitivities or allergies.

What Is An “Elemental Diet”?

An elemental diet is a type of liquid nutrition supplement designed to provide essential nutrients in an easily digestible form. It typically consists of predigested nutrients such as amino acids, simple sugars, vitamins, and minerals. This simplified form of nutrition requires minimal digestion, making it beneficial for people with gastrointestinal issues or those who have difficulty absorbing nutrients from whole foods.

Elemental diets are often used as a temporary meal replacement for persons with conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or other digestive disorders. They can help provide adequate nutrition while giving the digestive system a break from processing complex foods that may trigger symptoms.

In addition to being easy to absorb, elemental diets can also help reduce inflammation in the gut and promote healing of the intestinal lining. By providing essential nutrients in a readily available form, they support the overall health of people with compromised digestive function.

What Are the Benefits of Elemental Diet?

  • Easy Digestion and Absorption: Elemental diets are made up of nutrients in a pre-digested form, which significantly eases the digestive process. This feature is especially important for people with digestive disorders such as chronic pancreatitis or cystic fibrosis, as it allows for efficient nutrient absorption with minimal digestive effort.
  • Management of Digestive Disorders: These diets can be a key therapeutic option for managing various digestive disorders. For instance, in Crohn’s disease, an elemental diet can reduce bowel inflammation and promote healing. In conditions like IBS and SIBO, they help in managing symptoms by minimizing the fermentation of food by gut bacteria.
  • Nutritional Support in Illness: For persons who are ill or have undergone surgery and cannot consume solid foods, elemental diets provide a balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. This ensures that their nutritional needs are met even when traditional eating is not possible.
  • Allergy and Intolerance Management: Elemental diets are typically free from common allergens such as dairy, gluten, soy, and nuts. This makes them suitable for people with food allergies or intolerances, helping to avoid allergic reactions while ensuring nutritional adequacy.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Elemental diets have been shown to reduce gastrointestinal inflammation, which is particularly beneficial in conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The reduced strain on the digestive system can help in lowering inflammation and promoting gut healing.
  • Supports Gut Health: By providing nutrients in an easily absorbable form and being low in substances that can ferment in the gut, elemental diets can contribute to a healthier gut environment. This can be crucial for overall health, as a healthy gut contributes to a stronger immune system, better digestion, and improved absorption of nutrients.

Nutrients In the Elemental Diet

The Elemental Diet, unlike traditional diets, doesn’t rely on standard food sources. Instead, it is based on specially formulated medical products that provide nutrients in their most basic, ‘elemental’ form. These nutrients are easily absorbed and require minimal digestion. Here’s a breakdown of the key components of an elemental diet and their sources:

  • Protein: The protein in an elemental diet is often provided in the form of free amino acids. These are the simplest form of protein and are easily absorbed by the body. Unlike whole proteins found in foods, free amino acids don’t require breakdown by the digestive system.
  • Carbohydrates: Easily digestible carbohydrates such as glucose, dextrose, or maltodextrin are used. These simple carbs are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, providing immediate energy without the need for extensive digestion.
  • Fats: Fats in an elemental diet are typically provided as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are more easily absorbed compared to long-chain triglycerides found in typical dietary fats. They provide a quick source of energy and require less bile and pancreatic enzymes for digestion.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: A balanced mix of essential vitamins and minerals is included in elemental diet formulations to meet daily nutritional needs. These are often in easily absorbable forms to ensure that the body receives the nutrients it requires without the complexities of digestion and absorption associated with whole foods.
  • Electrolytes: Essential electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are included to maintain fluid balance and support various bodily functions.

When Are Elemental Diets Useful?

Elemental diets can be beneficial in a variety of clinical scenarios beyond those previously mentioned. Here’s an expanded list including reasons why they might be helpful:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis): Helps reduce inflammation and promote healing by minimizing digestion required in the gut.
  • Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): Reduces the fermentable substrates available to pathogenic bacteria in the small intestine.
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Eliminates allergens in the diet that trigger the immune response, reducing esophageal inflammation.
  • Short Bowel Syndrome: Facilitates nutrient absorption by providing predigested nutrients, compensating for reduced intestinal surface area.
  • Severe Malabsorption Disorders: Ensures nutrient uptake by providing easily absorbable forms of nutrients.
  • Acute Pancreatitis: Reduces pancreatic stimulation by minimizing fat intake and providing nutrients in an easily absorbable form.
  • Bowel Preparation before Surgery: Ensures the bowel is clean and reduces risk of infection post-surgery.
  • Radiation Enteritis: Supports healing of the intestinal lining by providing nutrients in an easily digestible form.
  • Chronic Pancreatitis: Similar to acute pancreatitis, it minimizes the workload of the pancreas.
  • Cancer Treatment Support: Helps maintain nutritional status in patients who have difficulty eating due to chemotherapy or radiation side effects.
  • Pediatric Gastrointestinal Disorders: Supports growth and nutritional needs in children with conditions like pediatric Crohn’s disease.
  • Severe Food Allergies/Intolerances: Eliminates potential allergens from the diet, reducing allergic reactions or intolerance symptoms.
  • Recovery from Major Gastrointestinal Surgeries: Provides nutrition while minimizing strain on the digestive system during the healing process.

Elemental diets offer a specialized nutrition solution in these scenarios, aiming to provide essential nutrients in the most digestible form possible, thereby supporting healing and reducing symptoms. However, it’s important to manage them under a dietitian’s supervision to ensure nutritional adequacy and to monitor for any adverse effects.

Is the Elemental Diet Safe?

Elemental diets, formulated as dietary supplements to temporarily replace food, are safe for most people. They offer a balanced nutrient profile to support health during periods when traditional food intake is not possible or advisable.

Medication Interactions with the Elemental Diet

  • Insulin and Oral Hypoglycemics: Elemental diets are high in simple carbohydrates, which can cause rapid changes in blood sugar levels. This can affect the dosing and effectiveness of insulin and oral diabetes medications.
  • Anticoagulants (e.g., Warfarin): The vitamin K content in some elemental diet formulations can interact with anticoagulants, affecting blood clotting factors and the medication’s effectiveness.
  • Diuretics: Elemental diets can alter electrolyte balance, possibly impacting the effectiveness of diuretics and the risk of electrolyte imbalances.
  • Antacids and Acid-Reducing Medications: These can affect the absorption of certain nutrients and minerals in the elemental diet, and might lead to imbalances or reduced effectiveness of the diet.
  • Corticosteroids: Long-term use of corticosteroids can impact nutrient absorption and metabolism, which may necessitate adjustments in the elemental diet composition.
  • Antibiotics: Certain antibiotics may disrupt gut flora, which can impact the effectiveness of the elemental diet, especially in conditions like SIBO.
  • Immunosuppressants: In patients with conditions like Crohn’s disease, interactions between these medications and the elemental diet can affect overall treatment effectiveness and nutritional status.
  • Chemotherapy Agents: These can affect appetite, taste, and gastrointestinal function, impacting the tolerance and effectiveness of the elemental diet.

Supplement Interactions with the Elemental Diet

  • Probiotics: Probiotics can alter gut flora, which may be beneficial for those on an Elemental Diet, especially in conditions like SIBO. However, the interaction depends on the person’s gut health and the specific probiotic strains.
  • Fiber Supplements: The Elemental Diet is low in fiber. Adding fiber supplements might be beneficial for bowel regularity, but they can also cause gas, bloating, or alter the effectiveness of the diet in certain digestive conditions.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: While beneficial for overall health, omega-3 supplements can impact fat absorption and metabolism in those on an Elemental Diet, necessitating adjustments in diet formulation.
  • Iron Supplements: Iron can interact with certain components in the Elemental Diet, which may lead to gastrointestinal side effects, or affect iron absorption.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements: These are important for bone health, but their levels need to be balanced carefully with the Elemental Diet to avoid imbalances and ensure proper absorption.
  • Herbal Supplements: Depending on their action, herbal supplements can interact with the nutrients in the Elemental Diet or affect digestion and absorption, necessitating careful monitoring.
  • Antioxidant Supplements (e.g., Vitamins A, C, E): While beneficial, high doses of antioxidants may interact with other nutrients in the Elemental Diet and impact its overall nutritional balance.
  • Magnesium Supplements: Magnesium can affect and be affected by the absorption of other nutrients in the Elemental Diet. It’s important to balance magnesium levels to avoid gastrointestinal side effects or nutrient imbalances.

Order Elemental Diet Supplements Online

Why Professionals Choose the Fullscript Formulary

Your health is on the line. Health professionals know that many other online and retail options set a very low bar for quality–sometimes amazingly low. The Fullscript formulary is the most secure online source for the highest quality brands securely sourced to assure freshness and purity. Here’s what makes Fullscript the best:

  • Meticulous vetting of brand quality. Health professionals trust Fullscript to continuously monitor the quality of each item on the platform. Other retailers operate with profit as their highest or only motive when choosing brands. Fullscript cares only about quality and reliability. Unlike discount stores, large online marketplaces, and other retailers you won’t find ingredients sourced from China or other questionable locations or companies.
  • Always 20% Discount off the manufacturer’s retail price. When you follow any link from, you will automatically get 20% off the retail price.
  • Free shipping over $50.
  • Freshness. Fullscript prioritizes freshness over bulk buying even if it means an increased risk of briefly being out of stock.
  • Top quality phone and online support. When you call, knowledgeable humans at Fullscript answer your questions.
  • How It Works:
    • Easy Sign-up & No Spam Email: Click the “View Product” button below to be taken to Fullscript’s login page where you can quickly create your secure account with just your name, email, and phone number. Then you will be taken directly to the product page.
    • Wide variety of supplement options: Once you sign in to your account, you are not limited to the products listed below. You will see similar items listed at the bottom of each product page on Fullscript.
    • Search For What You Want: Once inside Fullscript, you can search for the exact brands and products you want from their wide selection of quality brands.

When you purchase linked products presented on this page, Supplement Sciences, LLC receives affiliate fees so that our dietitians can continue to create great content.

Thank you for your support!

Physicians Elemental Diet Powder by Integrative Therapeutics

Physicians’ Elemental Diet is intended for use under medical supervision for the dietary management of patients with GI dysfunction.

The elemental diet is designed for the dietary management of:

  • Irritable bowel and Crohn’s disease, 1-6
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), 7-9
  • Moderate to severe impaired gastrointestinal function.3, 10-12

Physicians’ Elemental Diet contains a balanced blend of macronutrients fortified with essential vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes to assure comprehensive support as a sole source of nutritional intake for limited periods. It has been:

  • Specifically formulated to contain free amino acids, partially hydrolyzed carbohydrate and medium chain triglycerides to aid in their absorption from the GI lumen.
  • Designed to maintain nutritional sustenance as a sole source of nutrition for up to four weeks.
  • Produced as a strictly hypoallergenic formula, free from intact protein, polypeptides, corn, gluten, wheat, soy, and dairy.
  • Formulated with a well-tolerated flavor for improved patient adherence.

Dosing by Caloric Need

Physicians’ Elemental Diet was designed to maintain nutritional sustenance as a sole source of nutrition, and can also be used as a half-elemental diet making dosing dependent upon the caloric needs of each patient. One scoop of Physicians’ Elemental Diet = 36 grams, and 150 calories. Each 432g bag contains 12 scoops (1, 800 calories) and each 1, 296g bag contains 36 scoops (5, 400 calories). Learn more about determining caloric need.

Thoroughly mix each level scoop (36 g) in 4-8 oz. (118 – 236 mL) chilled or room temperature water. Additional water may be added to the mixture or consumed separately as desired. Consume the mixture slowly over a period of 15 to 60 minutes or more, dependent upon individual comfort. Once mixed, any product that is not consumed after 60 minutes should be refrigerated for a maximum of 24 hours, then shaken or stirred prior to consumption. After opening, store remaining powder in a dry place at room temperature.

Serving Size: 36g

Amount Per Serving
Calories … 150
Calories from Fat … 25
Total Fat … 4g
Saturated Fat … 4g
Total Carbohydrate … 25g
Sugars … 11g
Sodium … 105mg
Potassium … 150mg
Protein **
Vitamin A … 250mcg
(Beta Carotene)
Vitamin C … 20mg
Calcium … 83mg
Iron … 1.5mg
Vitamin D3 … 1.67mcg
Vitamin E … 6.77mcg
Vitamin K … 10mcg
Thiamin … 0.5mg
Riboflavin … 0.56mg
Niacin … 3.3mg
Vitamin B6 … 667mcg
Folate … 33mcg
(as Quatrefolic® brand (6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, glucosamine salt)
Vitamin B12 … 0.5mcg
Biotin … 50mcg
Pantothenic Acid … 3.3mg
Phosphorus … 116mg
Iodine … 16mcg
Magnesium … 33mg
Zinc … 2mg
Selenium … 18mcg
Copper … 167mcg
Manganese … 332mcg
Molybdenum … 8mcg
Chloride … 142mg
Choline … 33mg

Other Ingredients: dextrose, tapioca maltodextrin, medium chain triglycerides, natural flavor, l-glutamine, l-proline, l-aspartic acid, l-serine, potassium citrate, l-arginine hydrochloride, l-alanine, disodium phosphate, l-leucine, l-lysine hydrochloride, l-valine, l-glycine, calcium glycerophosphate, tricalcium phosphate, l-isoleucine, choline bitartrate, l-threonine, l-tyrosine, magnesium citrate, l-phenylalanine, l-methionine, l-histidine, magnesium glycerophosphate, l-cysteine hydrochloride, potassium chloride, l-tryptophan, sodium ascorbate, l-carnitine l-tartrate, sodium chloride, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, ferrous gluconate, l-taurine, zinc sulfate, calcium d-pantothenate, beta carotene, niacinamide, sodium selenite, manganese citrate, phytonadione, pyridoxal-5-phosphate, cholecalciferol, riboflavin- 5-phosphate, thiamine hydrochloride, copper sulfate, Quatrefolic® ((6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolate glucosamine salt), d-biotin, sodium molybdate, potassium iodide, methylcobalamin

Food First!

The elemental diet is a very short term intervention used for specific benefits. When you resume eating, food choices are again paramount.

When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Elemental diet supplements offer a unique approach to nutrition, especially beneficial for those with specific health challenges. These supplements are easily digestible, making them ideal for managing digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease and IBS. They provide vital nutritional support during illness or post-surgery when traditional eating isn’t possible. Free from common allergens, they are a safe choice for people with food allergies or intolerances. Elemental diets also play a role in controlled weight management and reducing gastrointestinal inflammation. Additionally, they support overall gut health, crucial for a strong immune system and effective nutrient absorption. This diet is a specialized nutrition solution, offering benefits that cater to a range of health needs.

This Article is Not a Substitute for Medical Advice

Dietary supplements are not designed to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The Supplement Sciences website seeks to provide comprehensive access to the most relevant supplement information along with convenient online ordering. We do not provide medical advice and cannot guarantee that every product suggested is completely without risk. Since each person is unique in their health history and medication use, it is important to discuss supplements with your personal physician. Specifically, pregnant women and individuals being treated for cancer or liver or kidney problems must consult their physician about every nutritional supplement they plan to take. People taking medications for the treatment of HIV or with a history of organ transplant must not take supplements without consulting with their physician.

About the Author

Supplement Sciences

Staff Authors at Nutriscape have been working on this article and it is still a work in progress. Please feel free to login and comment on what you see so far.

Leave a Reply