Gut health is a hot topic of discussion nowadays. It seems like everyone is interested in gut health and how to improve it. That is because the gut has been found to be the seat of all health. And it isn’t the gut exactly that keeps you healthy. Rather, it is the trillions of gut bacteria that live in the gut that does this. If you really look at it, you are more bacteria than humans. The number of bacterial cells outnumbers that of human cells. You shouldn’t let that bother you though because, in exchange for the warm, cozy home in your intestines, these bacteria give you a lot of benefits, such as–
- Synthesizing vitamin K,
- Supplying essential nutrients,
- Digesting cellulose,
- Promoting enteric nerve function,
- Producing neurotransmitters and hormones,
- Supporting the immune response and many other functions are all the responsibility of the bacteria.
But not all the bacteria that live in your intestinal tract are good. There are harmful ones too. Mostly, the good gut bacteria outnumber the bad ones and this balance ensures that your digestive tract is functioning properly. However, sometimes, the pathogenic bacteria grow and spread more quickly which leads to dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is a state of imbalance where the abundance of beneficial bacteria is compromised and paves the way to several medical conditions. The immediate symptoms of dysbiosis include fatigue, acid reflux, and heartburn. Digestive issues, food intolerance, gas, bloating, aching joints, and skin rashes were also noticed. If this state is left untreated, you are looking at long-term issues like leaky gut syndrome – where the tight junctions in the intestinal wall widen to let out toxins into the blood causing, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and SIBO.
There are several ways to correct the imbalance in the gut; many of which involve drastic lifestyle changes. The diet that you consume can influence the speed and degree to which your gut heals. So many diets and fads have been proposed to set the gut right that the choice as to what suits your digestive health has become difficult.
What Are Elemental Diets?
Elemental diets are a part of a medical protocol proposed in times of severe gastrointestinal distress. The diet consists of a liquid formula of complete nutrition broken down into its most elemental form. The liquid (powder that needs to be reconstituted) is pre-digested so that the digestive tract can absorb and use the nutrients, leaving the lower digestive system free to rest, recover and repair.
The whole point of elemental diets is to stop the digestive system from doing most of what it usually does. The food that you consume has to be broken down before the body can use it. The elemental diet breaks it down before you have even consumed it. Elemental diets are a combination of amino acids, short-chain triglycerides, and short-chain maltodextrins, with vitamins minerals, and electrolytes. Elemental diets are usually consumed orally but in extreme cases, they can be had through a feeding tube as well.
Elemental diets are usually prescribed to those that have severe gastric diseases or those recovering from gastrointestinal surgery. Resting the system can help promote digestive health, reduce intestinal inflammation, repair intestinal damage, prevent autoimmune disease flare-ups, and even helps balance out overgrown pathogenic gut bacteria. The elemental diet is especially good for Crohn’s disease, colitis, chronic pancreatitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, celiac disease, arthritis, IBS, food allergies, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth SIBO.
Studies Supporting the Elemental Diet
Elemental diets have proven effective to deal with gut-related issues like IBD (Irritable bowel disease), in numerous clinical trials. The diet was also able to reduce inflammation, decrease autoimmunity and stop the gut from relapsing into a state of dysbiosis.
- A clinical study even pegged the elemental diet as just as effective as an anti-inflammatory drug prednisone prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis.
- Another study put participants on 2 weeks of an elemental diet and 80% of subjects saw their SIBO breath test normalize and 65% showed improved symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease symptoms.
The diet is, however, not recommended for those with diabetes as most elemental formulas are high in carbohydrates that may cause blood sugar spikes. Elemental diets do not work for weight loss either. The diet only alters the way calories are delivered, there is no deficiency in calories. This is why it is essential that you consult a healthcare professional before you start an elemental diet. The doctor or dietician would be able to customize the elemental diet into semi-elemental diets or a half-elemental diet to help you with your specific symptoms or caloric needs. Sometimes a half-elemental diet may be prescribed as a maintenance measure against gastrointestinal issues. There is no difference in the ingredients in a semi-elemental diet from that of a full one. The difference lies in the degree to which the proteins are broken down completely into amino acids in a full-elemental diet or partially into whey protein in a half-elemental diet.
What Can Elemental Diets Do for You?
Elemental diets have shown effectiveness when dealing with clinical symptoms of gut-related illnesses.
- IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
IBS symptoms include gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation. The cause of the intestinal disorder is still unknown but a diagnosis can be made after a medical professional has checked the symptoms. After 14 days of being on an elemental diet, patients do see a significant drop in the severity of IBS symptoms.
- SIBO – small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
SIBO occurs when there is a bacterial and fungal overgrowth in the small intestine. This may be caused by food staying in the small intestine for longer than usual facilitating overgrowth. SIBO may also be caused by the presence of bacteria in the small intestine that usually does not reside there. There isn’t data surrounding SIBO and elemental diets but there is observational data. SIBO patients do seem to recover when they follow an elemental diet.
- Celiac Disease
This is an immune response that occurs when one eats gluten. When left unchecked, the gut inflammation damages the small intestine wall leading to nutrient malabsorption and medical complications. On elemental diets, the patient does seem to show some recovery. But this may be so because of what the diet does for the underlying SIBO.
- IBD – inflammatory bowel disease
A chronic inflammatory disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract, IBD is mostly linked to a weakened immune system that responds inappropriately to environmental triggers causing gastrointestinal distress. Most of the elemental diet research is based on IBD patients. The meal replacement shake does seem to be an effective remedy for IBD.
- Autoimmune Disease
Most autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and obesity stem from gut issues. Since the elemental formula is designed to help decrease inflammation in the gut and to aid the digestive system’s repair, elemental diets could improve the severity of certain autoimmune diseases. However, as there is not enough research to back that claim, we shall leave it like that.
One such proposed diet is Dr. Ruscio’s Elemental Heal – a dietary supplement that has been marketed as a “powerful gut healing tool”. So, let’s see if the product is what it says it is.
What is Dr. Ruscio’s, Elemental Heal?
This elemental diet is a whole meal replacement shake that includes all the vital nutrients necessary for a healthy body. Elemental Heal could be used for longer than other elemental diets for that reason alone. Dr. Ruscio launched 3 such meal replacement shakes for specific needs –
- Elemental Heal,
- Elemental Heal Low Carb, and
- Elemental Heal Whey-Free.
You can use Elemental Heal in any of the three prescribed ways.
- One, it can be used as a gut reset formula for symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. By using the formula for 2 to 4 days, the shake would be your only source of nourishment and calories. This way of consumption can arrest gut inflammation flare-ups.
- Two, it could be used throughout 1 to 3 weeks for stubborn imbalances. However, you need to speak to a doctor before you do this. Elemental Heal could be used as an alternative to probiotics and dietary changes if they have given you little to no relief from gut symptoms. It could also be used for inflammatory bowel syndrome, colitis, or SIBO.
- Three, it could be used as a meal replacement. In this case, it must be consumed daily to replace a meal or two. This may also help you with weight loss.
Sticking to Liquid Diets
Dr. Ruscio understands that it is hard to go without eating. He also understands that most liquid diets available in the market are not the best tasting. Out of the reviews that you find for Elemental Heal, most would be about the taste. Many have found the taste of Elemental Heal a lot better than that of rival medical food. Many found elemental diets difficult to stick to, so the brand offers the following measures to help you along.
- There is no restriction to how many Elemental Heal shakes you can have in a day. You can have as much as you like.
- The meal replacement shake alone may not help you feel full at first, so it’s ok to take a few bites when you are hungry. Only ensure that what you eat is gut friendly.
- To make sure that you don’t succumb to temptation, mix enough meal replacement formula to last you 3 to 4 hours. Take a few sips when you feel hungry. This would help you with dietary management.
- Add ice cubes to the shake. The shakes taste best cold.
- Add MCT healthy oils to the shake. This helps you to feel full for longer without compromising on energy output.
- You can use the shake even with prescription drugs or anti-inflammatory drugs. However, just to be safe, start the diet only under medical supervision.
The Elemental Diet Formula
To begin with, Elemental Heal uses a hypoallergenic formula. Meaning that it adds no dairy, gluten, soy, or polypeptides. So, if you suffer from food intolerances, Elemental Heal has that taken care of. As far as ingredients go, the elemental formula includes essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to keep your body and soul together while your gastrointestinal system takes a well-deserved rest. The diet recipe looks something like this.
Elemental Heal is jam-packed full of all the vitamins for a healthy you. These include vitamins A, C, D, E, K2, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, B9, and B5. These organic compounds are naturally found in plant and animal foods and are vital to human growth and healthy upkeep. They ensure that you have healthy bones, good eyesight, and a good immune system, can adsorb minerals, have healthy skin, prevent blood clots, digest foods and help to produce digestive enzymes. They are also antioxidants and anti-inflammatory in nature. Elemental Heal provides you with all of these vitamins and more.
Minerals help to maintain the body’s pH level as neutral and uphold the acid-base balance. They also play a vital role in enzyme production, nerve impulse transmission, and muscle contraction. They also help to release energy from food. They are vital to keeping your body functional and in good shape as without minerals there would be no repair. Elemental Heal adds calcium, phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, chloride, sodium, choline, and potassium.
- Amino Acids
These are the building blocks of proteins and L- amino acids are used to create proteins in the body. Elemental Heal has added all vital amino acids to the Elemental Diet Formula to ensure that your body remains healthy while your digestive system rests. These amino acids are L-tyrosine, L-aspartic acid, L-alanine, L-glutamine, L-proline, L-threonine, L-serine, L-glutamic acid, L-cysteine HCl, glycine, inositol, and vanadium nicotinate glycinate chelate.
Other ingredients in the formula include tapioca maltodextrin, whey proteins, and stevia leaf extract. The use of this complete meal replacement shake for just a few days would help in decreasing inflammation in the digestive tract as these ingredients allow for easy absorption into the bloodstream from the upper digestive system. The gut would be able to recuperate and the body would still be nourished.
All you need to do is add 4 scoops of Elemental Heal to a cup of cold water with a spoonful of MCT oil powder and you could blend, whip, or shake it all together. This makes one serving of the shake and you could make adjustments if you are making the drink in batches.
Does the Elemental Diet Work for Gut Health?
The answer isn’t a clear yes. As a remedial measure, Elemental Heal does seem to work for gut issues. It could be used for a gut reset, for stubborn imbalances, and as a precautionary measure against future digestive breakdowns. Nevertheless, it has been used successfully as a SIBO treatment. However, your gastrointestinal system is a machine and like any other machine, if left idle for too long it may lead to greater distress. The same is true with the elemental diet as well. Elemental Heal works for as long as you use it to right what has gone wrong with the system but if used for too long without any consumption of food, it could leave your system too dull or incapable of dealing with food.
Also, the elemental diet takes away prebiotic and probiotic food intake, learn the difference and the benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotic Foods from here. Whole foods include fiber which is a critical element to keep the gut bugs nourished. The elemental diet has no fiber which means that the bacteria in the gut are literally starved. It helps when you have a bacterial overgrowth but in the long run, you would be destroying any and all beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Probiotics are equally important. You need either supplements, find out the 10 Best Probiotic Supplements, or Probiotic foods explore the list here to help keep the number and diversity of bacteria up in the intestines. Elemental Heal does not help here either. Without whole foods, you would be destroying the gut microbiota while trying to fix it. Elemental Heal helps to keep your body healthy but has no provision for the microbes that live in your gut.
When following an elemental diet strictly you see signs of resistance from the body like abdominal cramping, detox symptoms, fatigue, reduced motility, and bacteria die-off symptoms. If you suffer from Chron’s disease or SIBO, you could try to switch to a gluten-free diet or a low FODMAP diet. An elemental diet would help you with the symptoms but not with the actual problem at hand.
Once you have finished with the elemental diet (a 14-day course), you may have some digestive trouble when you reintroduce food. That is another world of pain altogether.
So, the answer to the question of whether Elemental Heal works, we’d say yes it does as it helps the gut rest and resets it. But when the Elemental Diet is in question, as a long-term precautionary tool, the elemental diet is not recommended.
You can buy Dr. Ruscio’s Elemental Heal from the official website.
- You can buy the standard Elemental Heal in either vanilla or chocolate flavors for $67.95.
- You also have the option of getting the Elemental Heal Low Carb for $61.95 and the Elemental Heal Whey Free for $58.95.
All orders over $100 are eligible for free shipping and first orders are eligible for a money-back guarantee. You can also save an additional 5% when you opt to subscribe.
Aaron H. (UK)
I have been suffering from severe gastrointestinal distress for a while now and have tried various treatments with limited success. However, after incorporating elemental diets into my medical protocol, I have seen a significant improvement in my symptoms. Overall, I highly recommend this product to anyone struggling with gastrointestinal problems and looking for alternative treatment options. 3.0 out of 5 stars Life-changing product by elemental diets.
Madison P. (USA)
I have been struggling with severe gastrointestinal issues for years and have tried numerous diets and supplements with little success. However, after trying the elemental diet, I have finally found relief. Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone suffering from severe gastrointestinal distress. It has been a game-changer for me, and I am grateful to have finally found a solution to my ongoing health issues.
Elemental Heal Summary & Verdict
The elemental diet has proven to be an effectual remedy in cases of active Crohn’s disease, IBD and SIBO. One clinical trial after another has shown that the elemental diet formula allows the gut to rest and starve off bacterial overgrowths that seem to lead to gut illnesses and autoimmune diseases.
However, the lack of prebiotic and probiotic content in the diet itself makes it a less feasible diet to follow indefinitely. The health of a gut depends on the health of the bacteria and the elemental diet makes no provisions for the gut bacteria. The diet can help with the symptoms of gut disorders but does not address the real issue. As a remedial measure, Elemental Heal is recommended but as a long-term gut maintenance measure, it does not quite hit all targets.