One of the common threads between Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is the imbalanced growth of bacteria. Although the diseases are not a result of what we eat, the foods that we put in our mouths can play a huge part in inducing remission. One way to do it is through the elemental diet.
What is an Elemental Diet?
The Elemental Diet (ED) is a liquid diet with formula that contains the most basic nutrients: amino acids, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), simple sugar (dextrose or maltodextrin), vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are pre-digested, so our body doesn’t need to do much of the work to break them down. They are also highly absorptive, so our body takes in most of the formula before it finishes traveling through the small intestine.
How does an Elemental Diet work?
The goal of the elemental diet is to starve the bacteria but feed you. Sometimes the IBS and IBD can become so severe that you want to use a tool that can reduce the imbalance growth of bacteria quickly and provide a complete bowel reset. We also want to do this safely without causing patients to lose too much weight and become malnourished. Because the elemental diet is a pre-digested and high absorptive formula, your body absorbs most of the nutrients at the beginning part of the small intestine leaving no foods for the rest of the bowel. When you use the formula for a period of time, the bacteria start to die of starvation, and the bowel starts to heal. Research and clinical observation have shown that elemental diet can improve IBS and IBD symptoms by > 50% in 2-4 weeks.
Managing Your Symptoms with Elemental Diet
There are many nuances when it comes to using the elemental diet to help with your IBS and IBD. We may need to adjust the formula to help with compliance and mitigate symptoms as the bacteria are dying-off. This diet is also not suited for people with certain health conditions. This is a diet that needs to be supervised under a trained medical practitioner. Please talk to your doctor if you are interested in doing the elemental diet.