Thursday, October 19, 2023

Leaky Gut Fast: My Experience Using Elemental Heal

In creating a plan to address my autoimmune disease and its myriad of symptoms, I decided to begin with an elemental fast. Hoping to give my gut a bit of a rest and reset before I leaped into the Autoimmune Protocol. In May, I was given the diagnosis of prediabetic to add to all of my other autoimmune symptoms. At that time, I immediately began the T2 plan for diabetics (more on this soon). After about 4 months on that plan, I've figured out how to adapt things pretty easily for me, while letting everyone else eat what they would have in the past for the most part. I generally do lettuce wraps and my own substitutions that I make ahead.  

This week we went on a 6 day camping trip. When we travel during the school year, we modify school work and only do the things that would put us behind if we didn't keep up on them, mostly just the readings. We pick somewhere in the state and visit lots of places in the area. This year, we didn't go too very far from home. Jo-Jo is in her last year of high school and is doing duel enrollment at college. She is on campus several times a week, so we wanted to be close enough that she could get to class easily and still be up for any adventures we wanted to go on. The week was a good combination of adventure and rest. We visited a few historic houses, went on a wildlife safari, toured an alpaca farm, and took in the sunset at the beach. I chose the day we were heading home from the trip to start my fast.

I read a few bloggers' experiences with the elemental fast ahead of time and read through the book Healthy Gut, Healthy You. Then I developed a plan based on what I thought would work for me. I love food. The food restrictions on T2 were incredibly hard for me in the beginning, so I wasn't sure how this would go. 

I opted to consume the elemental fast for 48 hours and chose the Elemental Heal product. One of the recommendations I had read said that doing half the vanilla with half the chocolate is a decent taste. The directions recommend using 4 scoops elemental powder with 1 scoop of MCT powder. You mix this with anywhere between 8oz-32oz water depending on your tastes and sip slowly, but it should be consumed in 4 hours. I'd say start with 8 and taste, adding water until you get to your desired concentration. I found 8-10oz of water was fine for me.

I decided to start after lunch (12:30) on a Saturday and pick up with bone broth in the afternoon on a Monday (1:30) and then a small dinner of shredded chicken and veggies. The night before I began, I was still nervous and a bit worried about the taste. So many people said the elemental drinks taste terrible and I worried if I'd be able to stomach it, if I'd feel starving, and if I could make it for 48 hours.

Day 1

The day I started my elemental fast, we were on our last day of the 6 day camping trip. Since I decided not to start until after lunch, I would eat a normal breakfast and lunch. I had a few muffins I made in advance which was an odd combination of acceptable for the T2 restrictions and working into the AIP elimination phase (I won't even talk about the taste of those guys!), while everyone else had bagels for breakfast. 

We packed up the campsite and stopped for a lunch break before finishing and heading out. Lunch, was not AIP, but I followed the T2 restrictions. I had a lettuce wrap with ranch cream cheese, deli roast beef, and cheddar cheese with an apple and peppers. And this was my last meal.

When we got home, we unpacked, cleaned the camper, and put things in their proper places. I made a pasta dish for the family. You are not supposed to take supplements while taking Elemental Heal, so I will forgo my multi-vitamin and fish oil for the next couple of days. Taking fish oil is the only thing I’ve found that relieves any pain for me. I don’t think I’d be able to forgo it for more than a few days, so this is just the right amount of time. And had my first drink. I was pleasantly surprised that it was palatable. Taking sips was very doable for me. By the time I finished, about an hour later, I felt full and that lasted through the evening and into the night.  

On day 2, the entire day was only the Elemental Heal drink. I repeated amounts and powder combinations and all. By dinner, I was ehh about it, but since it is such an easy fix, I could drink it while doing something else and didn’t feel deprived when everyone else was sitting at the table for lunch. Breakfast on Sundays is everyone eat as you can before we leave for church, so that wasn’t hard. I spent some time in the afternoon outside doing some reading over the recipes coming up for AIP and walking barefoot in the yard. We spent the evening with a group of friends. I just took my drink and sipped it through the evening enjoying company. It was a bonfire and hot dogs didn’t even sound appetizing; however, I will say I was getting a bit tired of the drink being the sole thing I had.

Day 3, going into the home stretch. Making the drink for breakfast was a nice grab and go. I needed to run Jo-Jo to a class early that morning, so it was easy to mix. I didn’t feel hungry until around 1:30. I had ¾ of a cup of bone broth and ½ the amount of the usual drink. At 4:00ish, I pulled a chicken out of the oven (see my recipe below) that I intended to use in the next few days for a few meals. I snacked on the meat, but not the skin, and had some strawberries fresh from my garden. At dinner time, I was ready for a full meal. I had a couple of Sweet Apple Breakfast Sausage patties from the Thirty-Day Protocol from the book The Autoimmune Solution (without the pepper and nutmeg). The recipe made 8, so I have plenty for the week. When I reheat these, I’ll throw them in the cast iron skillet for browning. Everything’s better in cast iron right?? I had some brussels sprouts that I had gathered from the garden and some frozen, organic cherries on hand, so I made the Brussels Sprouts with Dark Organic Cherries from the book The Autoimmune Solution. I’m keeping this recipe! And I had some organic lettuce, topped with half an organic, granny smith apple (left from making the sausage). I’ve found if I have just a bit of fruit on my fresh greens, I don’t need dressing at all. I also started taking my multivitamin and fish oil at dinner.

I read somewhere that after having an all-liquid diet for a couple of days, folks get headaches or feel very sick. Maybe this could be attributed to someone that consumes caffeine regularly or ingests lots of sugar. I honestly didn't feel incredibly different, but I am not a coffee or soda drinker and haven’t had sugar in months. Physically, I didn’t notice a difference in anyway, negative or positive. This could have been because there was whey in the Elemental Heal that I chose. My stomach felt cramped in the evening on the second day and off and on the third day.  After I resumed eating (starting AIP elimination), I spent the first and second nights waking up regularly with stomach cramps and a more frequent need to urinate. No bowel movement that second day at all.

What would I do differently
I definitely only needed 1 tub for those 48 hours. Chocolate would have been preferable for taste, but AIP doesn't allow cocoa powder on the elimination phase, so it really isn't ideal. I'm not sure how I'd stomach the vanilla by itself. And I'm still torn between the low carb, which I need for my bloodsugar levels, and the dairy free Elemental Heal, which is what is needed for AIP elimination phase. I would like to sub out a meal from time to time with my remaining powder, but I'm not sure if that will work for me. We will see how well I tolerate dairy down the road. So if I had this to do all over again, I would say I’d need to do the vanilla without the whey and I’d increase the time to 96 hours or just one tub worth to see if there was any difference for me.

Tips for your own Fast
1) Order only the amount you need, unless you plan to use it as a meal substitution now and then. Since there is dairy in the low-carb that I purchased, I may or may not be able to use it. 
2) Start your fast mid-day, so you can restart half-way through the last day.
3) The MCT powder is included in the tub of Elemental Heal, so it isn't necessary to purchase it separately.
4) Have gentle foods ready for resuming solids. Start out with a bone broth.

Recipes for Wrapping up your Fast
To wrap up my fast, I started slow. Making a roast chicken and bone broth the day before my last fast day, so I would have both ready when I was hungry.

To make my Roast Chicken:

Chicken prepared to roast in cast iron skillet

1 whole organic, pasture-raised chicken
3 garlic cloves
1 lemon juiced and save peel (can use lime instead)
3 T olive oil
1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme

Prepare chicken in pan (I use cast iron). Pour lemon juice over chicken, bone broth, then 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pour 2 tablespoon in bottom. Distribute garlic over. Stuff with lemon peel. And sprinkle salt and rosemary over the skin. Bake 325 degrees 30 minutes per pound. Save carcass for bone broth. Save juices for other broth recipes.

Have you tried the Elemental Heal or another liquid fasting program to reset your gut? How'd it go? What tips do you have? 

Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is not to offer medical advice. I am not in the medical field. My purpose is to share what decisions I’ve made in an attempt to improve my health and try to put my autoimmune disease into remission. Remember everyone’s body reacts differently to foods and supplements and you have to make the decisions that are best for you. Consult a trusted practitioner for medical advice. Our resource page details the books, articles, journals, and websites we've researched to put together our autoimmune articles. You can access our Autoimmune Research Resources by clicking.

If you liked this post, you might also like:

And see what I ate and did to create balance on Week 1 of my AIP elimination phase.

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