Tube Feeding Formula

What type of formula may be fed into the small intestine?

While technically any standard tube feeding formula may be used, most people are started on formulas that are already predigested or broken down into their elements.  These are typically digested and absorbed much better in the jejunum. 

There are over 100 commonly used brand names of commercially prepared formula available, so there is no shortage of options to choose from when you and your doctor, or nutritionist, decide which formula is right for you.

An easy way to distinguish all the different types of commercial liquid nutrition is by their fat, carbohydrate, and protein (or macronutrient) sources. Using this method, there are three different categories of formulas: standard, elemental, and specialized.

Standard formulas are the most commonly used. They contain proteins that haven't been broken down (intact proteins) and polysaccharides.

Standard formulas are intended for patients who are able to absorb and digest nutrients without difficulty. Their goal is to provide the entire spectrum of macro- and micronutrients necessary for human nutrition.

Examples include:  Ensure, Boost, or Carnation Instant Breakfast.

Elemental formulas (also known as monomeric, hydrolyzed, or chemically defined formulas) are different from standard formulas because their macronutrients have already been partly or fully broken down for those patients who have compromised digestive systems or nutrient absorption problems.  This allows the body to digest and absorb what it needs from the formula more easily.  J tube patients usually eat elemental formulas.

Examples include: Optimental, Pivot, Tolerex and Vivonex.

Specialized formulas are prescribed to address specific disease categories, profiles and/or allergies.

Examples include: Ensure, TwoCal, and Boost, Vivonex, Perative, Pivot, Tolorex, Vivonex TEN.