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Can Ensure Cause Diarrhea? – What You Should Know

Ensure is supposed to "ensure" that you get proper nutrition and stay healthy. It is marketed as a quick and easy way to get the nutrition one needs without all the hassle and is said to be "the #1 doctor-recommended brand".

But can Ensure cause diarrhea? There have been some of reports of such and it seems that, if it can, then this would pretty much defeat the purpose.

Diarrhea is something that no one wants to deal with. Besides the annoying inconvenience of having difficulty doing anything because you are constantly trying not to poop your pants, there can be serious health problems that arise from having diarrhea.

  • Dehydration
  • Loss of nutrients
  • Increased fatigue
  • Lessened ability to fight infections

Diarrhea leads to the loss of vital food and water that you need to stay alive. So pretty much it decreases health as a whole, or can do such if it continues for too long.

Doesn't make much sense to drink Ensure to get more nutrients if they are just going to end up in the toilet, right?

Let's take a look at Ensure and see if these claims of diarrhea actually have any truth to them...

Taking a Closer Look at Ensure

Ensure products are...

  • Gluten-free
  • Lactose-free
  • Halal
  • Kosher

They are packed with lots of vitamins, minerals and macro-nutrients that are intended to lead to better health.

Take the Ensure® Original Milk Chocolate Nutrition Shake for example, which is a popular choice. It provides you with the following...

nutrition data

While there may be no proof that Ensure is "the #1 doctor-recommended brand", it is without a doubt a healthy formulation overall, and many doctors do recommend it.

There are various different Ensure products on the market. That talked about above is for the original version of their chocolate nutrition shake. They also have

  • Ensure PLUS
  • Ensure Enlive
  • Ensure Max Protein
  • Ensure High Protein
  • Ensure Clear
  • Ensure Light
  • Ensure Compact
  • And more

There are reasons why some people may experience diarrhea with Ensure products, but of course these reasons differ because the products and their ingredients differ.

Why It Might Cause Frequent Bathroom Trips

Fats - The fat content in Ensure products varies a good bit, but this is something that could potentially cause such an unwanted side effect.

Some people have a greater ability to digest fats than others, and when not absorbed properly during the process it can lead to increased water being brought into the colon, causing diarrhea.

*Many people who jump on the keto diet experience diarrhea from the very high amounts of fats consumed.

Maltodextrin - Ensure sources its maltodextrin from corn. This starch (carbohydrate) may cause digestion problems for some, which include bloating, flatulence and more. Some people are intolerant to it, which means they can't digest it properly. 

Most people won't have a problem with this ingredient however. It is actually a soluble fiber, which can also help eliminate or reduce diarrhea.

One study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology took 10 healthy adults too see how much maltodextrin they could consume before getting diarrhea. The results showed the ability to consume very large amounts before experiencing such, much more than any Ensure product would provide you with. But of course these people probably were not intolerant to it.

Sucralose - Sucralose is well known to cause some digestive issues such as bloating, gas and diarrhea. This is the main sweetening agent in Splenda, and is synthetic. The problem with it is that that body doesn't doesn't digest it because it doesn't know how to react to such a strange substance. So it goes through undigested and this is what can cause problems.

Not all Ensure products contain this ingredient. We noticed that the popular Ensure® Original Milk Chocolate Nutrition Shake does have it while the Ensure® Plus version does not. It does seem that most of their products do include it however.

Protein Overload - If you are guzzling the Ensure protein drinks, this could cause an imbalance in what you are taking in. People consuming high protein diets often don't get enough fiber, which is needed for healthy digestion and balance.

These protein packed Ensure products do supply some dietary fiber but it might not be enough depending on the rest of your diet.

Other Worthy Mentions - Some other ingredients that could potentially lead to stomach and digestion issues, including diarrhea, although unlikely include things like...

  • Soy Lecithin
  • Artificial flavor and dye

... which are included in some Ensure products.

How to Drink Ensure and NOT Get Diarrhea

Overall Ensure is a healthy product and we aren't telling anyone to stop drinking it, even if you are experiencing diarrhea. 

The first thing you should try is to see how it goes down if you drink it very slowly. 

Have you been guzzling these drinks?

This could be the cause. You might be overloading your body in one way or another and this could be the cause of bad digestion. Slowing down the rate at which you consume the drinks could give your body the time it needs to properly digest whatever it is that it is having troubles with.

It might not work, but it's worth a try.

*If you have tried this and can't seem to stop the diarrhea, discontinue consumption. Of course it isn't worth it if you have uncontrollable diarrhea.

It Might Not Be Ensure's Fault

Even though one may experience diarrhea after drinking Ensure, it might not be Ensure that is to blame. 

It could be that the rest of one's diet is far out of balance, and drinking ensure leads to their being "too much" of a certain nutrient.

So before you go about pointing fingers, look at the rest of your diet as well.

We know that ensure is supposed to be something you can drink to provide you with optimal nutrition, especially for those whose diets are lacking, but things don't always work out perfectly.

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Starting his writing career in 2015, Kyle is a leading contributor here at GutAdvisor, and for good reason. Having a passion for health and the awareness that proper digestion plays a key role one's overall well-being, he regularly keeps the community informed with valuable information regarding gut health.

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  1. Hi Kyle, Thanks for your insights and they are very much appreciated. I was on Vancamycycin followed by Doxycycline which had the worst side effects on my body. I lost 35 kg in 3 months and wasn’t able to stomach any food or fluids for that period. As it appeared I was allergic to these drugs they have been ceased and am just starting on Ensure. It is sitting ok and using it to line my stomach of a morning. I only use 4 scoopfuls instead of the 6 as the chocolate is quite strong. Thanks again. Therese

    1. Hi Therese,

      Yes that should be fine, but of course everyone reacts differently. As long as your stomach is feeling okay and your bowel movements are regular everything is fine.

    1. Unfortunately this is all too common. If you are certain it is Ensure then it is probably best to discontinue taking it, or maybe switch to a different type of Ensure product.

  2. I have had diahrrea with excess amounts of gas ever since having surgery for Crohns in 2017. Right after surgery I caught C.diff and took Vanco for it then it reocurred so I took Metrozonidale. Was finally cleared of the bug but still have excess bile acid coming out and excess gas. I am taking Ensure but notice how terribly bubbly it is and wonder if thats the cause of the excess gas at least. I dont remember Ensure being this bubbly years ago and am wondering if theyre now using cheaper and more noxious ingredients? If one decides to shake the bottle before use one will see the liquid looks just like MEGA amounts of dish soap! Quite perplexing even disturbing it is for I am STILL 35 lbs. Underweight! Ensure is not helping me to gain any weight whatsoever!

  3. not in school for the worst case of it and now Im never drinking ensure 2 times a day everyday again. Im so done from the humiliation of the sounds my family can hear when i relieve myself.

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