Fact sheetDiet specifications

Published on 1 Nov 2011

Fluid diet - elemental

This document is part of the ACI Diet Specifications for Adult Inpatients. It is not to be used for patient education.


To provide nutrients as small molecular weight compounds, i.e. proteins as amino acids or peptides, carbohydrates as oligosaccharides or monosaccharides, and fats as medium-chain triglycerides.


All nutrition provided by commercial elemental nutritional supplement drinks.


The treatment of some gastrointestinal diseases, eg Crohn’s disease, pancreatitis, irritable bowel syndrome.

Nutritional adequacy

Palatability limits compliance with this diet and patients may not be able to meet their energy needs with an elemental sip feed. Polymeric formulas may be better accepted and as effective as elemental fluid diets. Exclusive extended use of elemental formulas can result in essential fatty acid deficiency.


Patients do not receive a menu.


Suitable for use in paediatrics when combined with an age-appropriate diet.

Specific menu planning guidelines

Allowed Not allowed
Hot main dishes None -
Sauces, gravies None -
Starchy vegetables / pasta / rice None -
Vegetables None -
Soups None -
Sandwiches None -
Salads, dressings None -
Breads, cerealsNone -
Spreads None -
Hot breakfast choices None -
Fruit None -
Yoghurt None -
Desserts None -
Milk and cheese None -


Commercial elemental nutritional supplement drinks

All others
Biscuits None -


Plain boiled sweets



  1. American Dietetic Association. Nutrition care manual. Chicago: ADA; 2009.
  2. Mahon LK, Escott-Stump S. Krause’s food and nutrition therapy. 12th ed. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier; 2008.
  3. Verma S, Brown S, Kirkwood B, Giaffer MH. Polymeric versus elemental diet as primary treatment in active Crohn’s disease: a randomized, double-blind trial. Am J Gastroenterol 2000;95:735–9.
  4. Zoli G, Carè M, Parazza M, Spanò C, Biagi PL, Bernardi M et al. A randomized controlled study comparing elemental diet and steroid treatment in Crohn’s disease. Aliment Pharmacol Therap 1997;11:735-40.
  5. Russell RI. Intestinal adaptation to an elemental diet. Proc Nutr Soc 1985;44:87-93.
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