Nutritious shakes for sensitive digestive systems

ElementGold Plus+

Julie Simmons - Managing Director - Vitramed, 24 August 2021

Who is Vitramed? 

Vitramed is an Australian family-owned medical device supplier specialising in supplying medical devices used in the gastrointestinal industry with offices in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. 

How did Vitramed get involved in Elemental Foods? 

It’s not uncommon for our customers to ask us to import GI-specific products, and a gastroenterologist was interested in importing a special food used for the nutritional support of patients suffering from Crohn’s Disease. There was good clinical evidence(1) for the use of such foods, but not many options were available in Australia.

What are Elemental Foods and Elemental Diets? 

When we eat any normal food, we must break it down to get access to the nutrients it contains. This may start with cooking a food and for many continues with chewing the food into pieces and finally the food being broken down (digested) in our gut.

At this point, the food is broken down into the elements our body will absorb, such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Most of these elements will be welcome but there may be some that our bodies don’t cope with so well, resulting in symptoms we’re all familiar with like bloating and gas, but also sometimes more serious symptoms and conditions.

An Elemental Food is one that aims to be in an elemental form before we eat it, usually meaning things like vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates are added in separately. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. By being in an elemental format, we can be much more sure about exactly what elements we’re putting into our bodies. Importantly we can avoid elements that may be a problem, such as certain sugars, gluten or fats, whilst still getting the elements we need for nutrition.
  2. The normal digestion process takes time and energy for our bodies to extract the nutrition. The broken-down nature of elemental foods means nutrients can be absorbed much more quickly and with less effort required.

Elemental Diets are those based on elemental foods. They are a subset of liquid enteral nutrition; liquid diets consumed orally, that contain all the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins that the body needs to live.

Elemental diets are also known as “gut rest” diets, which implies that they can provide nutritional support whilst giving your digestive system a “time out” to heal from any condition that may have created inflammation.  Elemental diets are not a “cure” for a condition, rather gentle and effective nutritional support to facilitate healing.

Who can benefit from Elemental Diets?

Elemental diets are used for the nutritional support of people suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), including Crohn’s Disease. In these cases, it is often used as the sole source of nutrition under medical supervision. Elemental Diets are also commonly used for nutrition support in people with SIBO and IBS.

Due to the rapid absorption and elemental nature of ingredients, elemental foods can also be used for casual nutritional support by anyone who has difficulty swallowing or absorbing food.  This can range from people who have had oral surgery/dental work, the elderly, patients undergoing chemotherapy, those preparing for and after surgery, of those suffering from flare-ups of chronic conditions where they are unable to ingest and retain nutrition.

What is ElementGold Plus+ and how is it different to other elemental foods? 

ElementGold Plus+ is a nutritionally complete elemental diet shake. The word plus in the name is because whole protein is added to a base elemental blend.

ElementGold is blended with very high-quality ingredients that have been chosen for their nutritional value, but also to minimise the chance of triggering sensitive digestive systems.

The other important difference is taste. Considerable effort has been put into the blend of natural flavourings added to ElementGold Plus+, making it (in our opinion) the tastiest elemental food on the market. This is particularly important because you won’t get the benefits of an elemental diet if the taste prevents you from sticking to it. 

What does it mean for ElementGold Plus+ to be Semi-Elemental?

For a food to be purely elemental all of the ingredients would need to be in their most broken-down form, but this is not always desirable.

The elemental building blocks of proteins are amino acids. ElementGold Plus+ includes a blend of these free-form amino acids in the base elemental blend but in order to provide the range and quantity of protein required by the body to build muscle and maintain weight, whole proteins (which are a mix of different amino acids) are added.

In the case of ElementGold Plus+, proteins extracted from whey (Whey Protein Isolate or WPI) are added. The WPI added to ElementGold Plus has been very carefully chosen. It is extracted using the Ion-Exchange method, which provides the highest purity of protein on the market, maximising the removal of sugars (lactose), casein, minerals, and fats. The upcoming ElementGold Plus+ Vegan varieties add protein extracted from brown rice in place of WPI.

The flavourings added to ElementGold Plus+ are also carefully chosen and tested to minimise triggering sensitive digestive systems but are also not purely-elemental. However, elemental foods without flavouring are almost always unpalatable and difficult for people to stick with.

Multiple studies have shown that semi-elemental, polymeric and other variations of pure elemental nutrition have equal effectiveness in supporting patients with specific disease conditions(2).

Why is it important to have a low FODMAP option?

Many people who use ElementGold Plus+ for nutritional support have a variety of gastro-intestinal issues, some of which may be undiagnosed.  Formulating our products to be as low FODMAP as possible enables us to ensure that we avoid triggering sensitive digestive systems, whilst providing the best nutrition possible.  It also adds another layer of confidence that patients are using the most gentle product we can make.

Currently, our Unsweetened Vanilla flavour is certified by Monash as low FODMAP, with other certified flavours coming soon.

How do I use it?

A standard serve of ElementGold Plus+ is 100g (4 scoops using the included scoop) of ElementGold powder mixed with 250 mL of water and shaken or blended until smooth.  A 1Kg tub contains enough powder for 10 serves.

Each serve of ElementGold Plus+ provides you with balanced nutrition, so the main factor for determining how many serves you need is the amount of energy (kilojoules or calories) you are looking to replace from your normal diet. A serve provides around 1580 kJ (378 kcal) of energy.

ElementGold Plus+ is food. Some days you may be more or less hungry and so as with other food you may want more or less serves. The amount of energy that each of us needs from food is different depending on factors such as gender, age, physical activity and if we are trying to gain or lose weight. Because of this there is not a standard figure for how many serves of ElementGold you need. However, as a rough guide; a daily food energy intake of 8700 kJ is 5 to 6 serves of ElementGold. Speak to your dietitian for advice about your individual nutritional requirements and if ElementGold Plus+ is right for you. 

ElementGold Plus+ Unsweetened Vanilla Flavour is available to order from the Vitramed Health online store, FodShop and from selected pharmacies and other dietary specialists. Visit the ElementGold website for a full list of stockists and for more information about this product.


1. Ashton, J., Gavin, J., Beattie, R. M, Exclusive Enteral Nutrition in Adult Crohn’s Disease: Evidence and Practicalities Clin Nutr. 2019 Feb;38(1):80-89

2. Kakodar, S, Mutlu, E.A, Diet as a Therapeutic Option for Adult Inflammatory Bowel Disease Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2017 Dec; 46(4): 745–767

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