Why You Should Never Drink Ensure®

 

 

They are some of the most widely prescribed meal replacement drinks by physicians, hospitals, and nursing facilities, yet rarely do people question the actual nutritional makeup of these highly processed, chemical-laden drinks. We know them by the names Ensure, (a product of Abbott Pharmaceuticals), and Boost (made by the candy-maker Nestle). Through aggressive marketing campaigns and deep ties to the medical industry most people believe that these drinks are a part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Especially with labels such as “#1 Doctor Recommended” plastered on the Ensure bottle. There can be nothing further from the truth.

What is even more disturbing is that they are marketed to those that are the most nutritionally vulnerable: the elderly, cancer patients, and the hospitalized. People who’s nutrition can actually determine the course of their illness.

So why is Ensure such a health-killer? The answer lies on the back of the bottle. Remember that ingredients are listed in descending order, so the things listed first are the main constituents.

The first four ingredients are: water, sugar, corn syrup, and milk protein concentrate. Essentially, it’s sugar water. 23 grams of sugar to be exact, more than you should consume in an entire day. And the effects of processed sugar on your body have been consistently shown to be detrimental. Processed sugars create widespread inflammation and oxidative stress in the vessels of your heart and arteries, as well as in other organs like your brain. Sugar also decreases immune function, making you more susceptible to infection, as well as hindering the body’s first line of defense against cancer. This is particularly troubling when then these drinks are pushed on cancer patients. They, more than anyone, need strong immune systems to not only fight the cancer, but to fight infection. In addition, when you consume processed, concentrated sugars, your body must release a big surge of insulin in order to bring your blood sugar level down. But insulin doesn’t just lower blood sugar. Insulin is a GROWTH HORMONE, and for those battling cancer, eating foods that increase insulin levels is actively feeding the growth of your tumor.

Moving down the ingredient list, there are dozens of chemical additives, most of which I cannot pronounce. But there are a few that are particularly troublesome. Cupric Sulfate is a compound used as a pesticide and fungicide, and also used as an industrial additive in paints, cement, and batteries. Sodium selenate is used in glass manufacturing and as a pesticide and is added to animal feed. The FDA lists sodium selenate as toxic when ingested or inhaled. Pharmaceutical companies maintain that cupric sulfate, sodium selenate, and other chemicals in their products, when used in small doses like that in Ensure, are well below the level that causes toxicity in humans. I agree that if you are going to drink poison, you should do so in small amounts. But WHY drink poison? How about not knowingly consume toxic substances at all?

Rounding off the ingredient list are a host of synthetic vitamins. Yes, we do need vitamins and those who are battling illness or malnourishment may need higher levels of nutrients. But science has shown that there is a HUGE difference between vitamins and nutrients derived from food, and those that are synthetic. Synthetic vitamins are absorbed differently than the natural food, and isolating certain vitamins in this way can actually be harmful and promote disease. For example, Vitamin E and Beta-carotene (also known as Vitamin A) from natural plant sources such as spinach, sweet potatoes, and squash have been shown in scientific studies to decrease oxidative damage and the risk of lung cancer. However, Vitamin E and Vitamin A in synthetic pill form were shown to INCREASE lung cancer risk and promote lung tumor progression. And when we look again at the ingredient list of Ensure, the synthetic form of Vitamin E is listed as “D1-alpha tocopherol acetate” and synthetic beta carotene as “Vitamin A Palmitate”.

The conclusion is that Ensure and Boost are inflammatory and their ingredients promote oxidative stress and decreased immune function. This causes damage in the heart and arteries, as well as other organs in body like liver, kidneys, brain, lungs, and joints. They simply are not real food and there is no place for them in any diet. There are better whole plant alternatives that heal the body and provide anti-inflammatory and immune boosting phytonutrients. For example, a berry and spinach smoothie:

2 cups frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries)
1 frozen banana
1 handful spinach
1 cup non-dairy milk (or more for thinner consistency)
1 tablespoon finely ground flaxseeds
optional: scoop of non-dairy protein powder
optional: 2 dates for sweetness

Blend in a nutribullet, vitamix, or blender and enjoy!

 

Nutrition is actually very simple: Eat plants. Lots of them. Every day.

 

112 Comments

  1. Alvis J. Whitted

    Very informative article Dr. Stacy. Thank You.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks so much! It’s shocking what people put in their bodies because they have no idea what’s in it.
      And many thanks for the support MR. Whitted 😊🙏🏾

      Reply
      • shiba amiri

        That’s odd I’m drinking an ensure right now was googling about it . the label on mine has only 4 grams of sugar and nowhere says ir has corn syrup.

        Reply
        • admin

          There are many different names for processed sugar besides corn syrup. The point is that it contains chemicals, processed food products, and harmful synthetic isolates, all of which are inflammatory and disease-promoting. Eat REAL food that is recognizable as actual food.

          Reply
          • Mary

            I am so glad that I ran across your website. I have been drinking Ensure High Protein (160 calories) as meal replacement for over 1year now. After my battle with Saliva Gland Cancer which consisted of 2 surgeries to remove my Saliva Glands and Head and Neck Radiation the Nutritionist met with me after my Treatment and advised Ensure as it would be easy to swallow and give me the Nutrients that I would need. I still have a difficult time swallowing and my mouth is extremely dry all the time. The only fluids I consume are Water and Ensure. I usually eat 1 solid meal ( actual food) every 2-3 days. My health has been declining and I’m only 48. Could you advise a drink that I could make in my blender or bullet that can be made once and stored in a pitcher in the fridge , as the simple act of preparing a simple smoothie just takes energy that I simply don’t have , at least until I start feeling better. I guess I would be a good example of what this poison will do to a relatively once healthy women. Thank you in advance for any advice.

          • admin

            So sorry about your condition. There are several plant-based nutritional supplements that you can blend for a nutritious shake. Try Vega, Lyfe Fuel or Garden of Life brands. Blend with a non-dairy milk, and you can even add in some fresh fruit like strawberries, and a handful of fresh spinach. It would only take a few seconds. You should also be taking lots of turmeric, ginger, and green tea. Hope you feel better soon!

          • JenP

            Hi Mary,
            I sometimes make a shake I call “Way better than Boost.”
            4 oz heavy cream (find a brand without additives)
            4 oz whole milk
            (or, instead of milk and cream, use half-n-half, if you can find one without a bunch of thickeners)
            1/2 tsp flax oil
            1 tsp sweetener of your choice (I’m partial to maple syrup)(liquids will give best results)
            1/2 tsp vanilla extract
            2 tsp hemp protein powder
            1 TB collagen hydrolysate
            2 tsp Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein blend (the one with NO flavors and NO sweeteners of any kind; it’s very nice and neutral)
            optional – 2 tsp cocoa powder and a dash of salt
            easy to blend up with an immersion (stick) blender.

            By my calculations, 335 calories, 12 g protein, and 5 g of sugar. Very low in sugar, NO gut-irritants like carrageenan, very high in protein and GOOD fats (yes, butterfat IS a “good” fat, unlike the canola oil in Boost.)
            Plenty of calories in a small volume, for when you cannot take in enough “regular” food to meet your energy needs. Plus, the hemp protein powder is high in fiber.
            No, this does not have all of your vitamin and mineral needs. But, if you need to, just add a supplement. After all, the “complete” vitamins and minerals in Ensure or Boost are just from the added synthetic vitamins, anyway – there sure aren’t a day’s worth of vitamins and minerals in corn syrup, canola oil, and isolated soy protein!

            Good luck with your condition.
            I find another good source of concentrated calories is pudding made with coconut oil and chia seeds, with vanilla and just a little bit of sweetener.

    • Amanda

      My husband has oesophageal cancer and has been taking ensure for a month now about 4 compact bottles a day. He now has a billed up of phlegm and mucus which causes him to not be able to swallow liquids without coughing up a massive amount of mucus, which is very distressing. I’m sure it has got worse since taking the ensure. Can you recommend a compact daily liquid diet that will give him enough calories. Thanks
      is compact.

      Reply
  2. Julie Reimer

    I very much agree with your article Dr Stacy. But what does one do for bowel rest for sm bowel obstruction. Isn’t clear fluids & an enteral liquid like Ensure the only possible course for such a situation? (a situation I am facing right now)

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Julie. That sounds like a horrible situation you are facing. But if you can drink Ensure, then there are other alternatives. Use a NON-DAIRY protein powder (like hemp, pea, rice, soy, etc), and mix with a fresh pressed juice (like apple or pear) or a non-dairy milk like oat, almond, or soy. Slowly add fresh vegetable juice (with the juice from green leafy vegetables) to the mix, as well as lots of probiotics. Buy a turmeric powder and a “superfoods” powder mix and add that to your concoction as well. You can take a multivitamin along with your liquid diet as you recover. Or if you prefer, use a blender, nutrabullet, or Vitamix to make a smoothie. Add the protein powder to non-dairy milk, and add a frozen banana or frozen sweet potato, spinach, and blend. Add as much liquid you need in order to get a thin consistency. This is infinitely better because Ensure is INFLAMMATORY, and in order to heal your bowel, you need to eliminate the inflammation with ANTI-INFLAMMATORY foods with lots of antioxidants.
      Good luck on a speedy recovery!

      Reply
      • Isra Abdellatief

        Hi doctor,

        Can you please give examples to the nondairy protein powder, turmeric powder and the superfoods powder mix as links or names so I can know where or what to look for.

        Reply
        • admin

          Garden of Life brands, Amazing Grass, LyfeFuel, Navitas Organics, Kiva, Orgain vegan powder.

          Reply
  3. Nat

    I have been taking Ensure plus for a decade now and recently have experienced side effects that I am not sure are coming from the drink. I have two a day. I am also underweight though. The effects experienced are tummy ache and diarrhea and bleeding from the colcon and water retention, shortness of breath and anemia. Can I have Sustagen or Resource or Nutricia instead? Are multivitamins just as bad?

    Reply
    • admin

      First, you should discuss your issues with your doctor. But my main advice is to stop drinking Ensure, and Sustagen, Resource, and Nutricia are no better. This is because these products are not REAL FOOD. Look at the ingredients, and the only recognizable “food” product is sugar and some type of concentrated milk protein. The body needs a variety of plant nutrients in order to function properly, decrease inflammation and chronic disease, and boost immune function. These products are also full of chemicals, including those that are recognized as carcinogens. Instead of consuming synthetic nutrition, I would recommend eating actual food. Make your own drink. All you need is a blender. Grab some frozen fruit and throw in some leafy vegetables, along with a NON-DAIRY milk (like almond, hemp, soy, coconut, etc), and if you need more calories to gain weight, add a NON-DAIRY protein powder. And it’s cheaper than drinking Ensure. And get your vitamins from ACTUAL FOOD. Multivitamins are not a substitute for the nutrients in plants. In fact, synthetic Vitamin A and E have been shown to promote growth of lung cancer. So my overall advice is to stop consuming disease-promoting, toxic drinks, and take a trip to the PRODUCE section of the grocery store.
      Good luck to you my friend!

      Reply
      • Fabeeha

        You are already taking it for ten years. If it is a poison how are you still alive? I really wonder 🙃

        Reply
        • admin

          People smoke for ten years or breath asbestos but are still alive too….

          Reply
          • Louise

            The human body can also build a tolerance for regular exposure to small poisons, whereas they can then withstand an amount that would quickly kill most other people. This adaptation of the human body is a main reason why many people don’t recognize the damage from all the toxins they ingest and they must think of those of us that eat only organic and wild-crafted as foolish indeed! (See Mithridatium or Mithridatization.)
            BTW, this is a very good article, but I would add that these products can and ARE used for the most unscrupuious purposes, such as using Boost to fully shut down a failing liver (NASH) and then telling the patient she needs a liver transplant or she will die. Her father intervened and she was removed from the organ transplant list and her liver has returned to functioning. FYI, as of 8/2/18, she has been out of the hospital about 7 months.

          • admin

            At least that story had a happy ending! And yes, unfortunately, it often all comes down to money, not health.

    • Cassandra

      Our systems were made to digest real food and cannot digest these synthetic ingredients. Go natural and clean your pantry of that which is not food.

      Reply
      • admin

        Amen!

        Reply
    • Jane

      Wow, I’ve been drinking Ensure Plus and experienced the same effects as you have. The bleeding from the colon as well and that’s pretty alarming. I will not be drinking that stuff again.

      Reply
      • TheBlazinAce

        I drank ensure for 6 months daily and in that time started to feel terrible and was Moody got diagnosed severe depression then I had 4 heart Attacks over the next 2 years and 3 Strokes,got diagnosed Asthmatic and also started bleeding from the Colon,had constant tummy upsets and just last year diagnosed with Bowel Cancer before Ensure I was very healthy and out going now life is at times unbearable and it is no doubt this poison drink that’s done it and I’m only 46

        Reply
  4. Nancy

    I am horrified to lrarn about ensure. I have been drinking it off and on since lasy year when I was in the hospital for diverticulitis. Can you recommend a skake with strawberries ?

    Reply
    • admin

      Because you have diverticulitis, smoothies are a great way to get lots of plant nutrients and fiber, which will prevent recurrence of your diverticulitis. I would take some – frozen strawberries ( 1 to 1 and a half cups),
      – a frozen banana,
      – a large handful of kale or spinach,
      – 2 tablespoons of finely ground flaxseed powder,
      – 1-2 dates (if you like sweetness)
      – a cup of non-dairy milk (like almond, hemp, oat, soy). You can add more for thinner consistency
      – **If you want extra protein, you can add a NON-WHEY protein powder
      The flaxseed and the leafy greens are great for your colon and preventing diverticulitis. You should also be eliminating meat from your diet. Meat is murder on your colon health, as well as being the number one risk factor for colon cancer.
      Good luck, and thanks for your comment!

      Reply
      • Delores Conard

        If you have diverticulitis, or even diverticulosis, please do not eat straberries. Those tiny seeds will take up residence in the diverticuli and create a possible inflammation.

        Reply
        • admin

          You are PARTIALLY right. If you are not eating enough plant foods and fiber, then eating a strawberry could theoretically cause a flare, but if you are following a whole food plant-based diet, eating 40 grams of plant fiber a day, then nothing will get trapped in the diverticula.

          Reply
          • Heather

            admin, While I agree that the smoothie recipe is great under normal circumstances, and even for those with diverticulosis, for the purpose of preventing diverticulitis, the seeds from the strawberry and fiber from the ground flax are both detrimental for those suffering with a flare-up of diverticulitis. If you have diverticulitis, you need to rest your colon and consume soft,low fiber foods until you are healed and then slowly introduce fiber back into your diet

          • admin

            True, but diverticulitis is an acute condition, lasting a few days. I believe we were more referring to the diverticulosis and how to eat to prevent flares. But even with flares of diverticulitis, the worst thing you can eat is processed sugar and inflammatory dairy products and whey. Thank you for your input.

      • Fabeehaf786@gmail.com

        Dear Admin
        I would like to ask you a question please. Is soy milk better than natural milk? I have heared many bad things about soy milk and you are recommending soy milk to everyone. On one side you say stick to natural things and then on the other side you recommend artificially prepared milks? I am really confused. Soy milk can mess a lot with our harmones.isnt it true ?

        Reply
        • admin

          Actually, I am not recommending soy to everyone. I say use a NON-DAIRY MILK, that means almond, hemp, coconut, rice, cashew, oat, etc. Not just soy. Oat and hemp are actually my favorite. And you are referring to the phytoestrogens is soy, which actually do not mess up your hormones. What messes up your hormones is consuming meat and dairy, which are pumped full of artificial hormones. Dairy is BREAST MILK from a cow, so to think you are not getting hormones from cow breast milk is naive.
          But as always, you should do what you feel is best for you after consulting with your health professional.

          Reply
    • Richard

      What is your thoughts on “Orgain” organic supplement?

      Reply
      • admin

        Although Orgain does have a vegan protein drink, I’m generally not a fan. First, most of their products use whey protein, which is dairy, and highly inflammatory and cancer promoting. These supplements also supply all the nutrients by using SYNTHETIC vitamin supplements. Understand that when we attempt to mimic the nutrients in plants by synthetically manufacturing them, they are highly ineffective and can be harmful (such as the synthetic Vitamin A and Vitamin E that are in these products actually promote cancer formation and growth). Even the Organic Nutritional Shakes use dairy as a protein source, and the “vegetable blend” is listed last on the ingredient list, which means its amount is very small. In fact, the vegetable blend is not responsible for the nutrients because the synthetic vitamins are listed towards the top of the ingredient list. A few of their products may be a little better than Ensure, but again, I would avoid any product that uses synthetic vitamins and dairy (whey) protein.

        Reply
        • deb

          If I may add that Orgain, while imperfect- is at least not made of gmo roundup ready glyphosate soaked corn syrup. Organic means it cannot be gmo. To be clear (there is enormous amounts of $$ spent on “public relations’ or rather, disinformation on GMO in the U.S. specifically)- only since late 80’s early 90s when it got so deep into our food supply…now found in baby formula, even Pedialyte and of course ensure and boost, etc. They will keep using this as “phood” until we understand what it is and vote with our dollars. Thank you for bringing this to attention but I am wondering why no mention of the fact, it’s also problematic due to it’s mostly made of roundup ready, patented seed, glyphosate soaked CORN (GMO). (in baby formula, soy is the culprit)

          Reply
          • admin

            Thank you for your comment, and you are absolutely right. GMO food is a big problem in our diets, from the cancer-causing chemicals in GMOs to antibiotic resistance. Yes, more education is needed so people vote with their dollars.

    • shiba amiri

      With your condition as dr probably told you no seeds!!! No strawberries then!!!! Fresh or frozen or dry still has seeds.

      Reply
      • admin

        There are NUMEROUS fruits to choose from. Pick another one!

        Reply
  5. Sarah Ford

    Glad I came across this site on Google. A friend of mine have me a while case of ensure. His dad was drinking it but stoped. So glad I did research before I opened a can. Thank you a million. You saved me from drinking that deadly drink.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you so much for the comment! There really is no place for synthetic nutrition. Everything you put in your body either fights disease, or promotes disease. Stay away from disease promoters like Ensure.

      Reply
      • Sooz

        My Mom is going thru chemo and say that anything natural is not good, antioxidants will interfere with the chemo. I want to give her a smoothie, fresh juices but they make it seem like I’m doing more harm than good? Any advice? thank you for this informative article btw.

        Reply
  6. Comfort

    Thanks for the infor. What about the case where the patient is Elderly and is fed through tube?

    Reply
    • admin

      Good question. But whatever you can drink through a straw, you can put in a feeding tube. So the same smoothie of fresh berries, leafy greens, protein powder, and non-dairy milk, can be put in a feeding tube. You may need to make it a thinner consistency by adding more liquid (non-dairy milk or water), but it will easily go in a tube and you will be getting the actual nutrients from REAL food instead of processed poison like Ensure.

      Reply
  7. Grant

    Thank you for the article, very informative. I am currently dealing with an inflammation in my gut and I cannot open my mouth very much, I want to try and get as many nutrients as possible but can’t eat much since I’m a bit limited. What would you recommend since Ensure, Boost, Orgain are out of the picture ? I don’t have just always make smoothies mind you. I have been looking at an alternative such as Huel, not sure what you think of that?

    Reply
    • admin

      I’m so sorry to hear about your condition. In a case such as yours, if you really don’t have access to things needed to make your own smoothies, then we have to choose from what’s currently available. If you can get a powder and mix it with your own non-dairy milk, I would recommend “Garden of Life” Vegan Meal Replacement or “LyfeFuel” vegan meal replacement. If you need a ready-to-drink product, the options or more limited. Huel and Orgain Vegan don’t contain any plant phytonutrients (except for the plant protein source I suppose) and again, the synthetic vitamins are problematic. But they are an improvement over Ensure or Boost. I would also try to add something like turmeric powder to your shake to try and get some additional phytonutrients that can help with the inflammation.

      Reply
  8. Krishnan

    Thank you for this valuable information. Would you know if Ayurvedic supplements like Chyawanprash are safer and beneficial? Thank you.

    Reply
    • admin

      You are very welcome! I am not familiar with Chyawanprash, but there are many beneficial aspects of Ayurvedic medicine that achieve the same goals: eliminating chronic inflammation, bringing balance, equilibrium, and harmony to the body.

      Reply
    • Mark

      Very interesting site. I’m a long time diverticulitis sufferer and spastic colon sufferer, 72 years old. As I sit here drinking an Ensure I happened to look at the ingredients on the label and think, “What The Hell,” No wonder I got sick after three years of getting better from taking a good probiotic. I drank it every day for 12 days because it actually made me feel stronger. I walk one day lift weights another and have a 39 year old girlfriend…need I say more about why I get tired???…I started getting really smelly gas and loose bowels that ended up in a bout of diarrhea and more lower left bowel pain. So I started on Cipro and Flagyl and got sicker. Almost passed out, got really bad diarrhea because I took 750mg of Cipro and 400mg of Flagyl twice in one day. Lesson learned…really tired but trying to heal.

      Reply
      • admin

        HaHaHa! You definitely need to keep your energy up! But as for your gut, what may help is changing your gut flora. First, eliminate all dairy (including whey, which is concentrated milk protein and is in Ensure). Changing to a whole food , plant based diet also helps because the bacteria that lives in your gut when you eat meat produce some very toxic and nasty byproducts (especially one called TMAO). These byproducts are highly inflammatory and contribute to things like heart disease, stroke, cancer, and irritable bowel. Also eliminate processed sugar, and take a good probiotic (aim for 90 billion units). Lastly, fermented products like Kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and non-dairy yogurt also help. And try one of there smoothies with frozen fruit, leafy greens, dates, and turmeric.
        Good luck to you!

        Reply
  9. Gabby

    My mother has alcoholic hepatits and her doctor reccomended that she drink an Ensure in the morning with her pills before breakfast. *immediate red flag for me* she doesnt seem to see anything wrong with it because her doctor said it was okay.. her doctor also told her to drink less water because it has too much naturally occuring sodium!!! Im on the verge of a panic attack..please help me help my mom and get her to realize that her doctor is incorrect!!

    Reply
    • admin

      I’m so sorry about your mom, but Ensure is the WORST thing she could be drinking if she has liver disease. The processed sugar in Ensure has the exact same effect on your liver as alcohol! In fact, people who eat a lot of processed sugar and sodas get a type of liver failure called “NASH” (stands for Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis) which looks the same as alcoholic hepatitis. What your mom needs is to eliminate processed sugar and chemicals (which Ensure is loaded with) from her diet. She also needs fruits and vegetables that are anti-inflammatory and can help to heal her liver and slow down the destruction of her organs. She can get these anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods in a simple smoothie. Some frozen fruit, a handful of spinach, some non-dairy milk, and put in a blender. It takes about 3 minutes! And for your mom, I would also strongly recommend adding turmeric to her diet. She can take pills, or add turmeric powder to her smoothie.

      Reply
  10. Robert

    I believe what you said and I see the ingredients. However why do so many doctors recommend? I see both points of view in different sites on the internet. I don’t see anything replacing natural foods. Not insinuating this about you but most people who are totally against a product has a more personal reason for being against a product, such as being terminated from a company that makes or sells the product.

    I am just wondering why so many good doctors (some may be bad) recommend.

    Reply
    • admin

      I think many doctors unfortunately believe what the pharmaceutical companies tell them. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars promoting their poison, and it works. Doctors (and consumers) fall for it. And NO, I have NEVER been employed by a pharmaceutical company or the maker of Ensure, Boost, etc. My issue is entirely scientific. I see what these products do to people’s health, and consumers need to know about it.

      Reply
  11. Rebecca Garibay

    My dad has Hep C, recently he had been in extreme pain after eating, and was diagnosed with pancreatitis and Cirrhosis of the liver. The first thing he was told was only clear liquid diet. Once tolerated, start full liquid, then soft foods… his doc told him to stay away from hard to digest foods, and to drink ensure for nutrients and his body didn’t have to digest it, only absorb it, so pancreas can heal. If he was going to eat fruits and veggies, to cook them first… can you recommend a smoothie that tastes good for him?

    Reply
    • admin

      Sorry about your father, but drinks like Ensure actually INCREASE the inflammation in the pancreas due to all the processed sugar in them. A starter smoothie could be a mix of frozen blueberries, banana, a date, and a high quality turmeric powder. Mix with some hemp, coconut, almond, or other non-dairy milk, and blend. No need to cook the fruits, they shouldn’t be hard to digest. You should also add a non-whey protein powder as well. But you should also strongly consider juicing vegetables for him. Juicing presents the body with all the healing phytonutrients he needs, in a easily absorbed and bioavailable form. (Focus on nutrients good for the liver, like beets, kale, purple cabbage, leafy greens, and ginger) Healing takes place when we give the body anti-inflammatory and antioxidant fuel. The body can’t heal if we are feeding it chemicals and inflammatory products.

      Reply
  12. Karolina

    My mama has stomach and liver tumors. The doctor said no fiber and to drink ensure. I need help! I don’t want her drinking ensure.

    Reply
    • admin

      Unfortunately, there is so much misinformation among doctors, especially about how nutrition can be used to help treat cancers and prevent the spread of tumors. Doctors aren’t taught ANYTHING about nutrition in medical school or residency training, and the result is dangerous diet recommendations, like drinking Ensure when you have cancer. So what a person with cancer needs are high concentrations of phytonutrients. The key cancer-fighting foods are outlined in the “Cancer” section of the website. People like your mom also have to stop eating things that make cancer GROW, like processed sugar, animal products including dairy, and white flour. They should also stop eating chemicals which are carcinogens (check out the label on Ensure, there are several certified carcinogens in the ingredients). I recommend getting a cold pressed juicer if you don’t already have one. If she is having trouble digesting high fiber foods, juicing vegetables is perfect for her. She will get all the concentrated cancer-fighting nutrients in an easily absorbed drink. Please take a look at the Cancer Plan and be sure to incorporate as many of those foods into her diet as possible.

      Reply
  13. Tracey Olver

    Hi. What is your feeling about Xocai Meal Replacement. Mom has very poor renal function and is refusing food. The home she is in asked me to come today with Ensure. I remembered having read that it was not good so got online this morning to do research.

    Reply
    • admin

      I don’t like Xocai because it contains dairy as the protein source (whey), and the vitamins/minerals come from synthetic isolates instead of actual plant sources. It’s slightly better than Ensure or Boost (at least they try to plant nutrients, but I would definitely choose a vegan option that does not use whey protein.

      Reply
  14. Nadya himel

    I EAT WELL BUT I WILL LIKE TO REINFORCED MY BODY & GET more STRENGBTH FOF MY POSIBLE MITRAL VALVE REPAIR SURGERY. WHAT CAN I DO? TO BE IN A MUCH BETTER SHAPE. I AM DOING A LITTLE THRET MILL ARM EXERCISES. THATS ALL?

    Reply
  15. Fati

    My Dad is suffering from liver cancer which is at it last stage, he had TACE treatment two days ago. Now he doesn’t eat and he looks very weak so the doctor recommended Ensure for him. I just bought the drink and decided to read about it and thankfully i came across this article. Please help me with the best nutritional food or drugs that will help boost his appetite.

    Reply
    • admin

      That’s horrible what your father and your family are going through. Blending smoothies and making juices (with lots of vegetables) is the best thing for his nutrition and will give him the nutrients needed to fight his cancer. There is a “Cancer Nutrition Plan” on the website at FoodTherapyMD.com (look at the Cancer section under “plan”) that gives some recipes, etc. I would make sure he is getting lots of turmeric as well. But I would also suggest (after speaking with his doctors) using CBD oil. This isn’t marijuana, so there are no hallucinogenic effects. It’s a distillation of the hemp plant, that is highly anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and also has some anti-cancer effects. CBD is legal in all states, so can be ordered online. Brands like 4Corners and Charlottes Web are good, and it can also help your father with pain as well. I hope this helps. God Bless your father and your family.

      Reply
  16. sam smiles

    you ever have stage 4 cancer dear?

    well, do tell me how to do it the right way.

    i would love to hear what you’ve got to say about that.

    Reply
    • admin

      Fortunately, I haven’t had stage 4 cancer, but as a physician, I don’t think it is necessary for me to contract every illness and disease that I treat. I wouldn’t be a doctor for long if that was a prerequisite. (I would assume that your oncologist doesn’t have stage 4 cancer either). There is no “right” way to do it. Every individual must decide for themselves what is the right way for them. I can only share my medical and scientific opinion, and what the research shows. Then you can make up your mind to do whatever you like. Cancer is a hard diagnosis to have, and I sincerely wish you the best.

      Reply
  17. Joan Duratny

    On the subject if Ensure, etc. The newer drink with high protein low sugar, is Premeire – us this just as bad??

    Reply
    • admin

      Although it has less sugar, it is not JUST the processed sugar that makes these drinks bad for you. Premier has milk as a protein source, which is NOT good. Look for a plant-based protein source like pea, hemp, brown rice, lentil, etc. Also, nutrition should come from FOOD, not chemicals. Other than milk and water, there is not a single identifiable food listed on the ingredients. If you cannot visualize what an ingredient looks like, then you probably shouldn’t eat it. It is the actual phytonutrients in real food gets rid of inflammation, and improves our health.

      Reply
  18. Joe Sawyer

    Do we need sugar or can we do without it?

    Reply
    • admin

      There is no use for PROCESSED, REFINED sugar ever. And no health benefits from processed sugar, only bad results like inflammation, etc. The sugar (glucose) we get for energy needs to be from whole food sources (vegetables, grains, fruits, etc).

      Reply
  19. Walter Huffman

    I have had seven surgeries in seven years. Four were emergency surgeries to save my life. (1. Colon perforation. 2.Strangulated hernia. 3. Catastrophic mesh failure. A hole was ripped all the way from my intestines through my abdomen. I was hemorrhaging green fluid from an open hole in my abdomen. 4. Ten days later I developed a blockage and a massive abscess at the site of the revision surgery. 5. Colon Reconstruction. It was not emergency surgery but it was just as invasive as the others. 6. Mesh implantation that was just as invasive. 7. A “garden variety” hernia that left me with eighteen staples towards the proximal aspect of my right leg towards my right knee.). As a result I have severe digestive issues. I cannot tolerate what would be considered “normal” amounts of food. I have problems with the amounts of bulk protein necessary to maintain weight, build muscle and provide amino acids sufficient for my daily needs. I understand good nutrition is essential for a healthy immune system. My surgeon, who is not a nutritionist, suggested Ensure. After reading your article I am at a loss. What can I do to improve my nutrition when I cannot tolerate protein rich meals or blended meals of large volume?

    Reply
    • admin

      That sounds horrific and I’m sorry you are dealing with this. If you cannot tolerate fresh vegetables, I would try using a meal replacement that is plant-based, meaning no whey protein, and contains blends of fruits and vegetables. Also, the nutrition should be derived from the fruits and vegetables, not synthetic isolates of vitamins. Try Vega, Garden of Life, or LyfeFuel. If it’s a powder, use a non-dairy milk. Also, you need as many anti-inflammatory plants as possible, so adding turmeric, ginger, chorella to your shakes is a good start. Also lots of probiotics. Avoid processed sugar and animal products. These cause you to have bad gut flora, and makes it hard to heal.

      Reply
  20. iggy

    So happy to come across your article.
    Last year, I was drinking ensure and Boost as a regular meal replacement at least a few times a week. And knowing that is it is used in hospitals gave me the confidence that there is nothing to worry about.
    However, my body never reacted to it very well. So had to stop. I actually felt tired and sick a few times. Almost felt like I was over heating shortly after drinking it.

    Reply
    • admin

      You have no idea how frequently I hear that story! What you were experiencing is your body reacting to the processed sugar and chemicals, and the widespread inflammation it caused.

      Reply
  21. Nelly Marchetta

    Wow, thank God I found your site. My mom has various health issues, but mainly CKD stage 4. She doesn’t eat well and has anemia. Her endocrinologist told me to give her ensure and vitamin b12 & b complex. Her was ok with it. Now I’m really worries. What can I give her?nephrologist g ist

    Reply
    • admin

      One of the ingredients in Ensure is especially dangerous for your mom (lots of the ingredients are harmful but this one in particular) and that is whey protein and milk isolates. Animal protein is very bad for the kidneys, so she needs plant-based protein, as well as the nutrients in green leafy vegetables. Make a smoothie with frozen berries, spinach, kale, or other greens, and a non-dairy milk like almond milk and put a few scoops of a VEGAN, PLANT-BASED protein powder. You can also add more plant nutrients by mixing is a “superfood blend” like Vega, or Garden of Life. But she needs to be eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible, with a few nuts (walnuts, almonds) and seeds a day. There are some recipes on this thread as well as on the site.
      Good luck to you both.

      Reply
  22. Katherine Walz

    My mom been on ensure for 4 years thru her feeding tube would it make her skin dry and have hives and how long does ensure stay in her body shes been off it for 2 weeks and still itchy sometimes Thank you Kat

    Reply
    • admin

      How long something stays in the body depends on how well the kidneys and liver are functioning, as well as other chemicals/medications you’re on. But simply stopping the Ensure isn’t enough. She needs to to eat plenty of anti-inflammatory vegetables and fruits, preferably at least half of them raw.

      Reply
  23. Kushan

    In the market,there are number of soya milk powder’s available.Are they ok to be consumed?

    Reply
    • admin

      Soy is plant-based, so it’s an acceptable protein source. Just make sure that it is NON-GMO. Also, look for products that use pea, lentil, hemp, or brown rice as protein sources.

      Reply
  24. Tingting

    My dad is diagnosed soft tissue sarcoma on left pelvic.. He consumes Ensure since april 2018.. does ensure make the tumor keep growing? Is it the cause of inflammation?

    Need your help. ASAP
    Thanks

    Reply
    • admin

      Very sorry about your father, but yes, Ensure (and other brands like Boost) contains things that cause tumors to progress. Processed, artificial sugars from any source are inflammatory, decrease immune function (which is the first defense against the cancer), and increase things like IGF-1 (Insulin like Growth Factor 1) which is a major contributor to tumor growth. Your dad needs ANTI-INFLAMMATORY and immune-strengthening foods, like actual fruits and vegetables. Consider grabbing a blender, and making him a smoothie, with frozen berries, spinach, a non-dairy milk like almond, coconut, hemp, etc (or unsweetened pomegranate juice instead), a banana, and some flaxseed powder. You can add a date for sweetness. Turmeric also has anti-tumor properties, so make sure he is taking plenty of turmeric (ask his doctors first to make sure it doesn’t interfere with his treatment).

      Reply
  25. Peter

    Hi
    Is stevia ok ?

    Reply
  26. Joe

    I’d have to diagree with your article for the fact that those chemicals that you so clearly emply are harmful in the drink Ensure, they are indeed hardful when used alone and mixed with certain substances, they are not harmful when they’re broken down to this degree Inside of ensure, ensure is not the healthiest choice but it is an alternative to people that aren’t eating healthy, your body will regulate it’s own pH levels and filter the toxins regardless of what you eat, you just have to remember to moderate your foods of choice, so yes Ensure is safe and effective and was made by highly knowledgeable individuals that have spend years of their life in college to help society.

    Reply
    • admin

      Thank you for your comment, but respectfully, I disagree with your statement and science disagrees as well. The issue is not the pH in your body, but the inflammation that occurs when you eat processed sugars and concentrated dairy products. “Moderation” leads to “moderate” amounts of disease, “moderate” amounts of cancer, and “moderate” amounts of strokes and heart attacks. If you are ok with moderate amounts of disease, then that is your choice. But I would prefer to have NO disease or at least as minimal amount as possible. And our food and lifestyle choices can determine that. And I don’t think the goal of most trillion dollar food companies is to help society. It is a quaint idea, but the truth is probably more related to money, and how they can CHEAPLY mass produce food and make as much profit as possible.

      Reply
  27. Mike

    I have ulcerative colitis and am currently experiencing a nasty flare up. I was bought some ensure a couple days ago and am now worried. I cannot eat solid food and am very weak. What should I be drinking/eating?

    Reply
    • admin

      It’s important to consume as many anti-inflammatory nutrients as possible. This is INFLAMMATORY bowel disease, so the last thing you want to do is eat/drink processed sugars and whey protein, which are inflammatory. Making a smoothie with soft fruits like bananas, mango, melons, and even smoothies with sweet potatoes is easy and fast. Use a PLANT-BASED protein powder (hemp or pea protein) and any plant-based milk (like almond, oat, hemp) or you can also use an unsweetened pomegranate juice if you prefer. I also highly recommend adding turmeric powder to your smoothies.
      You should also be drinking lots of vegetable broth, and drinking green tea and ginger tea. There have been studies using wheat grass juice for treatment of ulcerative colitis flares and healing and they show that the nutrients in wheat grass speed up healing. The study was with the juice, but if you can’t find it, try using the powder in your smoothie. And be sure to talk with your doctor about your diet and which supplements are best for you.
      Hope you recover soon!

      Reply
  28. Lisa

    Besides smoothies, would a pureed soup be ok for a bowel rest? Also can I puree or blend cauliflower or broccoli (for a soup or smoothie) or should those be avoided at this time? I have a wonderful anti-inflammatory broccoli turmeric soup I was hoping to give him. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • admin

      Blended soups are a great way to get lots of anti-inflammatory nutrients. I don’t know what type of bowel rest he is on, but soups are a good option if he can take anything by mouth. Broccoli and cauliflower are both cruciferous vegetables, which are some of the most nutrient dense foods, so that is a great choice. And turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory and also good for pain control.

      Reply
  29. Sonia baltazar

    Thank you for these good info. What can you say about Macrolife greens and also Melaluca peak performance pack?

    Reply
    • admin

      Macrolife Greens are a great way to get some extra plant nutrients. There is no whey (which is inflammatory) and no added processed sugar. There are high amounts of beneficial antioxidants, so it is something that is good to add to your juice or smoothie. The melaluca is more of a focused supplement, with the vitamins coming from synthetic isolates. It does have good things like turmeric and grapeseed which are excellent antioxidants, but doesn’t have the amount of plant nutrients that products like Macrolife greens has.

      Reply
  30. Yash

    I am 31 weeks pregnant and my doctor recommended ensure to me at 23 weeks for extra nutrition. My baby is quite small and she suggested I continue with the ensure. I’ve learned today that it contains synthetic vitamins so I bought the super food shake instead. I am however horrified to think I’ve been drinking something that has not been benefiting me or my baby and may be harmful. Definitely stopping ensure but feeling worried now.

    Reply
    • admin

      Good for you, and your baby. Make sure the superfood shake has plant-based protein (not whey or concentrated milk products). And don’t worry. You are doing great for your child and positive thoughts and energy are just what your baby needs.

      Reply
  31. Tina Eckhart

    Hi please help me my Mommy has stage 4 lung cancer with a large mass pushing against her arteries of her heart. She also has severe spinal stenosis. My family wants her to drink Ensure. I recommend the Isagenix shakes I am currently on for the last 5 years and I feel amazing. My husband is type 1 diabetic and he was in and out of the hospital except now he is faithfully on the plant-based protein shakes. Your thoughts would be appreciated, thank you Tina

    Reply
    • admin

      I would not recommend Isagenix to a cancer patient. They use animal protein (whey) which is cancer-promoting. In addition, cancer patients (as well as ALL people), require WHOLE PLANT FOODS in order to increase immune function, decrease inflammation, and decrease oxidative stress. If you cannot make your own smoothies (although it;’s fast and easy and only requires a blender), then look for a shake or powder that is 100% plant-based, organic, with whole plant foods in the ingredients (like vegetables and fruits). You should recognize the ingredients as things you can buy in the produce aisle of the grocery store. There are numerous examples of simple fruit and vegetable smoothies on this thread and on the FoodTherapyMD.com site.
      In addition, things like turmeric, ginger, mushroom, and chlorella are all excellent additions to the diet of cancer patients.

      Reply
  32. Umber Faraz

    Dear I am suffering from IBS. I can not digest anything. All fruits, vegetables, pulses, flax seeds give me a really bad gas and bloating. I was unable to walk few steps a month back. My doctor recommended me to drink Ensure and now I can even do my house work. I feel less tired now. What would you say in my case? I can only eat half slice of white bread with some butter and few sips of tea other than that I can not eat anything. If I leave Ensure then what next???

    Reply
  33. Jas

    Hi, can advise is Colostrum powder supplement good for elderly and people with weak kidney?
    Appreciate your feedback.
    Thank you

    Reply
    • admin

      Animal protein is very bad for kidneys. It causes something called “hyperfiltration” and animal protein (like colostrum) is very inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory plant foods, including vegetables that have high nitrate components like beets, celery, and cruciferous vegetables, and fruits like watermelon and berries, are best for preserving kidney function.

      Reply
  34. Sophia

    Girl what kinda label is this lol the one I’m drinking right now says 160 Calories, 4 grams of sugar, 16 grams of protein, and looks pretty healthy to me. Im drinking one that says ensure high protein shake that’s chocolate flavored. It looks a lot healthier than your average chocolate milk. And a lot of those “unpronounceable” things in the ingredients are what vitamins are in the drink. If you don’t know what one of them is just Google it to see if it’s healthy or not.

    Reply
    • admin

      Unfortunately, what people think is healthy, is not healthy. No amount of whey (concentrated milk protein) is healthy. It is inflammatory and decreases immune function. And the synthetic isolates (what you call vitamins) are not absorbed or metabolized by the body in a healthy way. In fact, 2 of the synthetic vitamins have been shown in clinical studies to PROMOTE cancer formation, especially lung cancer. The healthiest diet is one that has REAL,WHOLE FOODS. Eat and drink things that sound like what you buy in a grocery store produce section and you will be ok.

      Reply
  35. Ake

    This smoothie recommendation is not nearly enough to keep a person nourished. It’s lacking so many vitamins that are added to the manufactured protein drinks. Remember, these drinks are often given to people who can’t eat properly and even with malabsorption or malnutrition, low vitamin levels in the blood etc.

    I still think these drinks do cause problems. I swear I was having anxiety attacks induced by Boost. mind you, this is on an empty stomach, also it seems that some days it made everything really bad and sometimes not. It would be nice if complex carbs could be added, all the vitamins kept in, and switch the milk out for something less inflammatory.

    Reply
    • admin

      Agreed. Of course a vegetable and fruit smoothie is not “complete” but neither is a can of ensure. Consuming whole food in the form of a smoothie, with addition of a plant-based multivitamin will supply those nutrients without the inflammatory milk protein and processed sugar and chemicals.

      Reply
  36. ron adler

    Your perspective is narrowed by your emotions. One small bottle of ensure will be no different than having two cookies, small muffin, slice of cake or any off the shelf cracker- which everyone eats during a normal day. Having said that it is not a MEAL REPLACEMENT as it states and would not provide any cell repairing nutrition.
    But drinking this instead of a snickers bar or any candy is equal.

    Reply
    • admin

      Exactly my point. A Snickers bar, candy, cake, etc are all disease-promoting and inflammatory. I wouldn’t recommend those things to any patient.

      Reply
  37. Nella J

    My Father in law has Congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, and ia on warfarin. He insists that ensure plus is good for him. I hate that he drinks it at all.. can you give me your professional advice if a 75year old man with all these conditions benefits at all from ensure? Also, forgot to mention that he suffered a major stroke in 07 leaving him with left side deficit.

    Reply
  38. Peter DeNigris

    My mouth swells up and gets very sore after drinking Ensure….has anyone else had a similar experience.

    Reply
  39. Mike

    I need advice on this topic and had no idea how bad drinking this stuff is I’ve been drinking like 10 to 12 bottles of endure pulse for over a year on and off longer I currently have a bad hyperthyroid and have no appetite so I’ve been supplementing with this so I do not loose more weight please any more info or advice would be very helpful I’m thinking I should stop drinking these and replace it with what I take when I’m lifting weights a healthy weight gainer and am on thyroid meds and waiting to see specialist and think the meds are not working and am wondering if some or a lot of things going on with me are because of it I am trying to get myself back on track with working out and diet thanks for your time
    Sincerely Michael

    Reply
  40. Ridhuan

    Hi Doc. I am consuming whey protein for nearly 5 years due to my heavy workout. Does it harmful as other meal replacement like ensure?

    Reply
    • admin

      I would strongly recommend using a protein powder that does not contain whey. Use one with plant-based protein (hemp, pea, brown rice, etc). It’s better for your kidneys, your heart, and doesn’t promote cancer.

      Reply
  41. Richard E. Kurdt

    I am 81 and fighting renal carcinoma in both lungs for 8 years come this Dec. 10th I had my left kidney removed in 12/19/97 as of right now I am taking a cup of plain Greek yogurt mixed with crushed fruit blueberries,peaches, strawberries, pineapple,I also take one ensure a day which I now will forego from here on out. My chemo I take for five days and off for 16 days {pills]prior to the cancer I made a cocktail of a tablespoon of cinnamon [from Sri-Lanka]a tablespoon of tumeric and one tablespoon of buckwheat and one wildflower honey mixed it in an 8oz.glass w/water. had to stop due to chemo gave me congestive heart failure and am now on blood thinners. Thank you so much for the insight

    Reply
    • admin

      Good luck to you on fighting your cancer. Remember that the goal is not just to kill cancer cells with chemo, radiation, etc, but TO CHANGE YOUR BIOCHEMICAL ENVIRONMENT SO THAT IT IS INHOSPITABLE TO ANY CANCER. We do this with food. The reason so many cancers return is because doctors do nothing to change the environment that promoted the cancer in the first place. Stay strong.

      Reply
  42. Richard E. Kurdt

    I am 81 and have been fighting Renal carcinoma eight yrs. come 12/10/18 I have been taking ensure for about 8 mos. and I am stopping as of today, prior to cancer I had been taking a home made cocktail of one tbsp. of cinnamon [from Sri-lanka they do not cut it until ordered and you get it in just a few days] one tbsp tumeric and one tbsp of each honey wildflower and buckwheat mixed with water in a 80z glass of water. I was taking that for about two yrs twice a day before my heart attack as the chemo gave me congestive heart failure and I have been on blood thinners ever since. I am now also taking a cup of plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit that’s available Blueberries,strawberries,peaches,and I crush them then add the yogurt. I must also say the cinnamon is so much better than any thing you may buy such as McCormick. I am so thankful for your advice it really struck home. Thank you very much.

    Reply
  43. Melvin Bautista

    Hi doc,is ensure good for hemorrhagic stroke survivor or under recovery? Im planning to drink it every morning. Is that advisable on my situition? Thank you.

    Reply
    • admin

      I absolutely would NOT advise it. First, I’m glad you are on the road to recovery. But to STAY on the road, and not have another stroke, there are a few things you must do. FIRST, you can’t eat the way you were eating before the stroke. That is the 100% foolproof way to have another one. SECOND, you must eat foods that DECREASE INFLAMMATION, and DECREASE OXIDATIVE STRESS in your brain, blood vessels, and your heart. Essentially, that means: No processed refined sugar, severely decreasing your intake of meat and dairy (that includes chicken, eggs, etc), and making the majority of your diet (90% or more) WHOLE VEGETABLES, FRUITS and WHOLE GRAINS. So instead of Ensure, drink something made with actual plant foods. Make your own smoothie with some frozen berries, spinach,ground flaxseed and a plant-based protein powder (like from LyfeFuel or Vega or Garden of Life). Or buy a plant-based mix and mix with a non-dairy milk. ANYTHING is better than the processed sugar and chemicals in Ensure or Boost. Good luck and good health!

      Reply
  44. Bob

    Hello, I’m considering on what to do. I have a bunch of stashes of ensure, but seeing this article I don’t know if I should throw all of it away?

    Reply
  45. Courtney Fisher

    To every one I like to just say try pure trim there products are made from pure ingredients and there shakes are really good .. I’m having issues with my digestive system .. I’m taking boost ..since I switched I feel better ..

    Reply

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