Using the Elemental Diet to Heal the Gut (Interview with Jini Patel)

Video Transcript

Introduction and Jini’s Healing Story

Josh (0:13)

Hello everyone. Thanks for tuning in today to the SIBO survivor show and I’m super excited, we have an awesome guest. Her name is Jini Patel Thompson. Jini is an internationally recognized expert in natural healing for digestive diseases. She healed herself from Crohn’s disease and has remained drug and surgery free for over 20 years. She’s appeared on numerous TV shows and radio shows in the US and just really gives hope to people who are living with inflammatory bowel conditions as well as irritable bowel syndrome, anything really having to do with the gut. So she’s used entirely natural methods and she’s also created a business out of this, her own personal passion and problem you can visit it at listentoyourgut.com, she has everything on there from books to elemental diet products and really everything that can help you heal naturally so I’m super excited to kind of connect with Jini in this talk today and give you guys I want to go over just the elemental diet in a little more detail and you know what she’s found with it and how this can help you if you’re struggling with IBS or SIBO and if an elemental diet may be a good choice to supplement or to use as a treatment for you. So, hey Jini and thanks for joining us.

Jini (1:43)

Thanks Josh great idea to do this call so I’ll start by answering your first question about what is an elemental diet and specifically for people with IBS and SIBO because if you have Crohn’s and Colitis most people are using an elemental diet to give the bowel a rest because they’ve got either active bleeding or hemorrhaging or they’ve got you know some pretty severe ulceration and those wounds like just like when you get a cut on your skin if you can give that a rest and some time and space it’s gonna heal a lot faster than having food going over it and over it over and again so but for SIBO and IBS that’s not really applicable and the place where it’s useful for people with the small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or irritable bowel syndrome is as it’s kind of like a food clearance mechanism. So, many times there are things that are irritating our gut that we have no idea about or we may know but we don’t know what it is and the process of doing a food elimination and thorough allergy testing it’s really labor-intensive it takes a long time and while you’re doing that what do you eat. Well we’re back to the elemental diet again so people can use it either just for say two or three weeks to basically clear anything that’s aggravating them out of their system while they’re still getting really top quality healthy nutrients so it’s the difference between taking boost or ensure which is you know a really fattening garbage product and a you know healthfully formulated elemental shake product where it’s actually gonna build muscle, right, it’s not going to put fat on you. It’s actually gonna put muscle if you need it or just allow you to maintain your weight or some people take a lowered calorie intake and they actually use it to lose weight during that period so that’s kind of what people with SIBO and IBS use an elemental diet for.

The Elemental Diet, Ingredients and Use

Josh (3:37)

Definitely and even from my experience I’ve also seen that there have been studies that some doctors actually use it as a short-term kind of treatment because from my experience it also helps with reducing the bacteria in your small intestine which is helpful as well so it’s that and it’s using it like you said as kind of a restart and finding out what food sensitivities you have and really just starting from a baseline of easy to digest and absorb nutrition.

Jini (4:13)

Yeah, exactly and your point about it assists with the bacterial clear out because there’s if you don’t if you’re not eating carbs or any kind of beans or legumes or anything like that there’s nothing going into you know the colon for sure and different parts of the small intestine for the bacteria to eat so that’s how it produces a change in the gut flora and then you know I think we’re gonna be talking a little bit later about things you can combine with the elemental diet to really speed that process up and make it even more powerful.

Josh (4:47)

Yeah definitely. So one other thing just real simply what exactly is an elemental diet made of?

Jini (4:58)

It is made of the essential nutrients, so protein, there is a carbohydrate component. Carbs are not essential but if you try to you know do an actual nutrient diet where you’re, you know, not just lying in bed you need some form of carbohydrates. So in an elemental diet the carbs are in a very specific form. They’re either monosaccharides, sugar molecules or they’re in maltodextrin, which is a glucose polymer and that’s all that’s allowed there’s no disaccharide or polysaccharide sugar molecules allowed. Your protein is predigested as well so it’s either a whey isolate or some semi-elemental products will use a whey concentrate which is a mix of milk proteins or they’ll use casein which is the most highly allergenic milk protein I’ve seen in the pharmaceutical community. Some that use a beef protein source, like there’s a lot of different, I’d say, lower quality protein sources but either way, it has to be digested down to say a dipeptide bond or completely hydrolyzed into say a free-form amino acid. So you know and you say we’re getting a bit of nomenclature because when I first started using an elemental diet, oh my gosh it would have been over 25 years ago. If you had the whey isolate that was considered elemental. Today, whey isolate is considered semi elemental and the only thing that’s considered elemental is the free form amino acids, so where the protein is completely hydrolyzed into just individual amino acids.

Josh (6:48)

Yes, so that leads me to my next question. Here is, you kind of explain the difference between semi elemental and nowadays the term for a full elemental formula so it’s basically just the difference between the, you know, the protein bonds, right, so it’s either amino acids or it’s larger chain so in your experience does it really matter? Is one better than the other or will this semi in the new terms will this semi elemental formula work just as effective?

Jini (7:24)

Well there’s I’ll give you a couple of pointers and just to finish the composition of elemental diet, there’s one other component and that’s the fat and again the fat is in the form of cold-pressed flax oil for example or a medium chain triglyceride which is a type of coconut oil and so again because those are the essential nutrients that the body needs to function and be healthy so now we’re done with that now back to your question of you know is it just difference in protein source and you know which one is better than the other. Here’s the main point to consider if you take just a so we’ll use the new terms the elemental which is free-form amino acid only if you use that kind of formula your body cannot build muscle on free form amino acids for muscle tissue to be formed the protein has to piggyback on a dipeptide bond or higher and that is an incredibly important distinction that hardly anyone knows about and the reason I found this out was again back when I developed my version of an elemental diet I tried the free form amino acids and at that point I was 99 pounds. I’m five foot seven, right, so I needed to put on some serious muscle and I thought this isn’t working at all. I’m not gaining any weight I’m not gaining in energy or strength like what’s going on here and then when I switched to a whey isolate boom I started building muscle I started gaining energy I could actually walk down the road and back and so because protein is used for so much wound healing and repair and strengthening within the body. So I went on this search to go what this doesn’t make any sense they’re both proteins why would I have such a difference? And I finally found it from a Ph.D. nutritionist who’d written a paper on it which is basically this information that free form amino acids, they’re more like supplements. They’re more like therapeutics. They don’t function the way a dipeptide bond or higher protein functions to actually build muscle fiber. So that’s the main consideration that people need to take into account. The second consideration is they did and I’ve only seen one study I haven’t gone looking but only ones that’s popped into my radar a study with Crohn’s patients where they had one group on the elemental which was free form amino acids only and they had another group on the semi-elemental which was a whey isolate. So remission rates were about the same between the two groups but when the two groups started reintroducing food the ones on the semi elemental whey isolate product had a majority of them maintained remission. The ones on the free-form amino acid formula the majority of them experienced a flare so that tells me that, okay when you’re playing with the body’s chemistry and you’re doing it for a fair amount of time you’re not just doing it for a day or two right it’s probably better to stick to the forms that food would normally be found in like stay closer to that as close as you can that still accomplished your goal so for that reason I myself would prefer to use a semi elemental product rather than a free-form amino acid.

Josh (10:58)

Yeah and that’s such a good point because just even people with bowel issues right whether it’s inflammatory bowel disease or IBS or SIBO it’s a lot of times people are losing weight or they can’t put on muscle so it’s a good thing to think about. If you can get a semi elemental formula that works that is the same results and it allows you to pack on some muscle it’s probably a win.

Jini (11:30)

Exactly, exactly. And you know semi elemental like we talked about the whey isolate but you know I’ve just finished final product testing for our vegan version of the shake that I  formulated and so for that I’ve used a sprouted rice protein. So again it’s sprouted to make it more bioavailable, easier to digest, so you can definitely do a vegan version of that and still get the same results.

Elemental Diet Length of Time and Other Helpful Add-Ons

Josh (11:58)

Yeah, that’s good to know. So the next question here about the elemental diet is how long you usually see the formula used for in people with disrupted guts because I know for IBD and inflammatory conditions a lot of times I think it’s used longer and then for the IBS SIBO community right now its kind of used sometimes as a two to three week treatment or as a supplement so what do you usually see as far as length of time?

Jini (12:30)

Well partly it depends on again the severity of symptoms, so if their symptoms are really severe, really disrupting your life you kind of want to go exclusive elemental, right, as opposed to having some easily tolerated foods mixed with some elemental shakes because people do that too, right? So if you have let’s say severe Crohn’s or colitis you’re gonna want to do a minimum of six weeks and you’re gonna want to be exclusively elemental and yeah that’s expensive but it’s not more expensive than the drugs or the surgery or a cheap trip to Vegas or Mexico like people got to put this in perspective.

Josh (13:10)

Also getting quality food from the store is expensive.

Jini (13:16)

Exactly so that’s for Crohn’s and Colitis and then for IBS and SIBO again what you said we normally see people doing two to three weeks of that and yeah you know again if there are symptoms more severe, they tend to really commit to the three and they tend to do it exclusively.

Josh (13:30)

Yeah, makes sense. So is there anything else someone with IBS or SIBO can do to get better results from an elemental diet? Like in your experience even when you have used it to help your gut did you do just solely the elemental? What was kind of your process and what helped?

Jini (13:50)

See my opinion is this is so restrictive and it’s so hard for me. I’ve heard from a lot of people saying this is not hard at all I love this I don’t have to cook I don’t have to think about food, but for me I’m a real foodie so for me to just drink these shakes would and I do them with bone broths and jello made with natural gelatin because those are all elemental foods. It’s brutal for me to do this so I figure if I’m doing this I want to create like a healing spa. I want to get the biggest bang for buck out of it.

Josh (14:28)

Makes sense yeah. So you’re kind of incorporating other healing processes alongside the elemental diet, whether it’s broths or other things like that.

Jini (14:38)

And I add in supplements to the stack, such as coq10, grape seed extract, pycnogenol, a mix of flavonoid. I really go high on the flax or Udo’s oil because why not get all those good fats in while they’re easy you know because how much of those do you use in your daily diet, you know, unless you’re taking them by the spoonful and then the other really really important thing that I feel for everybody from SIBO to Crohn’s to colitis to diverticulitis the whole gamut is to simultaneously do a natural antimicrobial protocol so from for my readers I have something called Jini’s wild oregano oil protocol because wild oregano, it’s a broad-spectrum anti-pathogen. So it’s antiviral, anti-yeast, antibacterial and anti-parasitic. So if people can tolerate that and I would say ninety percent of people can, they should do all oregano oil. And if they can’t, I would say substitute with olive leaf extract. So what they do is they take the wild oregano three to five times a day maybe for IBS or SIBO you only want to do three or four times a day with the wild oregano and then last thing before bed, a minimum of two hours after your last dose of the antimicrobial, I get people to take a really high dose of the natren probiotics and when I was developing this protocol I had hundreds of people testing it for me and so we had a whole bunch of people who were just doing the antimicrobials and weren’t doing a therapeutic grade probiotic and they would go into states of intolerance or it would work but it wouldn’t work so well and it’s almost like the body needs like you can kill all that stuff during the day and then at night when you’re sleeping you’ve really got to put back in the good bacteria because you can’t leave a void in nature for one thing and number two the good bacteria are also helping to kill off the bad stuff but they’re actually moving in and doing good stuff at the same time so I would say that’s if you want to get your biggest bang for your buck and why wouldn’t you, it’s expensive, it’s restrictive, it’s like do it you’re doing it do the whole thing definitely do an antimicrobial and a high dosage probiotic and a lot of people too, with Crohn’s and Colitis are doing a probiotic retention enema during the same time which I want to mention to you because when you have people with SIBO, especially extreme SIBO, that ileocecal valve between the small and the large intestine often malfunctions. It does not open and close properly so even for people with SIBO and IBS, we recommend they do at least one probiotic retention enema and they also add in some acidophilus, which is not normally found in the large intestine but we go because we got that problem with the ileocecal valve and you’re gonna have stuff washing up put the acidophilus in there and get the probiotics right to the site where there’s likely gonna be an issue.

Probiotics and Bacterial Overgrowth

Josh (17:45)

Okay, interesting. So, yeah, so a lot of times you recommend antimicrobial oregano oil and then also probiotics. There’s kind of this debate in the SIBO-IBS community about probiotics. Some people don’t think it’s good because it’s like the overgrowth and then others you know so you have actually found that using the probiotics on that protocol you see good results?

Jini (18:15)

Across the board. But we only use Natren brand and there’s I have 30 pages of information why that’s the only brand we recommend and I have dozens of teleseminars on my Youtube channel about why we shouldn’t be using soil organisms you know like prescript assist is a really popular one there’s a lot of issues with the spore forming and then the spores are in the gut but we can’t get rid of them and now what are they doing they’re just lying there dormant like there’s a lot of issues with the type of probiotic so and again you know when I first discovered Natren I had tried I don’t know six or seven different brands and I did not find any benefit and then my naturopath who was head of the BC Naturopathic Association said, ah, I bet you haven’t tried this one and I couldn’t believe it was like such a difference and again we have a whole protocol for how to introduce that you don’t want to go high-dose right off the bat. You want to do a little bit at a time, gradually increase, let your body adjust, because if you get too much die off you’re gonna feel like crap too right? So same thing for the wild oregano. Some people like to go hard or go home and other people are like, I can’t afford to be sick. If you don’t want to hit it hard, you start with you know maybe five drops twice a day of the wild oregano but for people who really go, no let’s just clear this, they do ten drops five times a day. Though again our bodies have different preferences, right? Like some people’s bodies need to go really slow and take their time so that’s you know that’s the listen to your gut part, right?

Josh (19:56)

Right, that’s exactly what I was gonna say, like your business, listen to your gut, like see how your body is reacting, see how it feels, if you need to take it slow, take it slow.

Jini (20:06)

Exactly, you need to take a break, take a break. Like I go like I’m not do anything no antibiotics no probiotics for two or three days let everything normalize because it’s interesting I was doing a talk with Natasha the owner of natren and she said people are not conscious but these are living creatures and they have intelligence and they know when you’re killing them and they go oh yeah you’re killing me I’m fighting back. She said they don’t just die, they release toxins. They know they’re dying but they’re like I’m gonna make you suffer on my way out so they release. You know like Candida releases up to 168 different toxins to kind of you know like go I’m gonna kick your butt on the way out because you’re killing me you know so we got have to take a bigger view of what we’re doing here it’s it’s not just like herbs.

Josh (20:55)

Yes that’s a good way to look at it just because sometimes when you’re playing with you know bacterial communities in your body it’s like you can almost see that in real life, it’s like kind of like you’re going to war a little bit like there’s gonna be fighting, there’s gonna be stuff going on.

Jini (21:08)

And like with that analogy, so the bacteria that you’re putting in you want to put them in in an environment they like to be in with a food source that they can eat and you want whole, intact, strong bacteria who are ready to go to work because they’re going into a hostile environment. So again just bringing a different level of intelligence to probiotics supplementation.

Josh (21:35)

Last question here is just from your experience, what are some of the top supplements or treatments for the people in the IBS category what have you seen, besides the elemental diet, what else?

Jini (21:52)

Yeah, the elemental diet. There’s a specific probiotic called B infantis that is often missing especially in people with IBS and there’s been some clinical trials on that so for our people with IBS we tell them definitely don’t start with the the adult bifida bacteria start with the baby one which is called B infantis the other thing is a stool bulking or softening agent obviously you don’t do that at the same time as the elemental because it’s not compatible but you would incorporate that into your diet on a regular basis. So we’re talking about ground flaxseed, ground chia, best if you can get them sprouted of course. Psyllium seed does better than husk. Sometimes a short course of bentonite clay can be or charcoal can be really beneficial but again don’t do it for longer than a week or two because it also drops all that good bacteria and bad bacteria and takes it out so if you’re trying to repopulate with good bacteria like plan your use of clay and charcoal to account for that.

Josh (23:00)

Definitely, well this has been really helpful and informative. I think a lot of people will benefit just from hearing this talk, hearing about you know what you’ve seen using the elemental diet, what you can incorporate with it to get the best results and I personally have actually used your product absorb plus and I love it it’s I think it tastes great and it’s effective like when I even occasionally use it as a supplement if I’m having kind of some flare-up symptoms because it really kind of gets things back under control so if anyone’s interested in the elemental diet, definitely check out listentoyourgut.com she’s formulated an awesome product called absorb plus and she has lots of other good information and products on her website as well. So Jini thanks so much for coming on and just you know chatting about this topic and giving us some insight.

Jini (23:57)

Thank you Josh and thanks for all that you’re doing to educate people and let them know that there are really effective alternatives to the Med-Pharma route for these conditions for sure.

Josh (24:09)

Yeah, definitely, yeah I want everyone to feel better and I want to feel healthy as
well, it’s the goal, right?

Jini (24:18)

Awesome, thanks, Josh.

For more in-depth information on the elemental diet see the elemental diet for sibo post here.

Using the Elemental Diet to Heal the Gut Interview Summary

  • The elemental diet is used to give the gut a complete rest. This is helpful for various gut infections, including Crohn’s, SIBO, and IBD.
  • The elemental diet lasts anywhere from two to six weeks.
  • The elemental diet formula is made up of all the essential nutrients, fats, carbohydrates and protein, each in a very specific, highly absorbable form.
  • The elemental diet can either help a person to gain or lose weight while also healing the gut.
  • Since the diet is so restrictive, it’s helpful to add some other healing modalities along with it, like bone broth, gelatin, specific supplements and non-food related, create a healing atmosphere.
  • When one has candida and is doing the elemental diet, it’s important to also be taking the antimicrobial herbs and supplements.
  • The elemental diet can be tailored to ones specific caloric need.
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