Nutritional supplements and meal replacement products are flying fast off the shelves off stores globally, and especially in the US. This is mainly due to two reasons – one, the gap in meeting daily nutritional needs and the special requirements of certain categories of individuals. For instance, individuals on weight training, weight gain, weight loss programs and patients with special nutritional requirements during pre or post treatment phases require additional nutrition. While a significant percentage of the supplements are typically safe for regular consumption, it is important to take a good look at the ingredients, the source and GMP of the manufacturer. Here is a detailed assessment of ensure drink side effects.


Overview of health drinks and supplements


Among the various products that are presently popular in the market, Ensure occupies pride of place, as a highly ranked nutritional supplement with a long list of products available in the market. Its popularity stems from the different variations in products, that are intended to cater to specific needs and categories of users. For instance, certain individuals may find it difficult to consume solid food due to certain conditions or during post-surgical periods. Other conditions include eating disorders, cancer and patients diagnosed with malnutrition problems. Like most health supplements and drinks, ensure is available in various flavors and formulations, including ready mix products. While all products may appear to be the same, there are differences in nutritional profile and it helps to understand these differences.


The impressive Ensure stable – different categories of products


Ensure products are free from gluten, that makes it a suitable healthy choice for most categories of individuals. Additionally, Ensure can be consumed by individuals of all faiths and beliefs, as it is certified as kosher and halal, which makes it acceptable for Jews and Muslims, apart from all people of all faiths. There are various categories of products in the Ensure stable, which literally means that there is some product for all categories of users. For instance, the products are broadly classified as complete nutrition, advanced nutrition, targeted nutrition, specialty therapeutic nutrition. Products in these categories cater to the nutritional requirements of all individuals in some manner.


Individuals intending to gain weight or to maintain weight typically choose products for the first category – complete, balanced nutrition. Similarly, patients with digestive health issues, or issues with heart, immune system, muscle and bone typically choose advanced nutrition products. The targeted nutrition range of products are intended for use by individuals who wish to build muscle, and also includes athletes and sportspersons. Finally, patients who need to undergo surgical procedures or who have undergone procedures choose products of the specialty therapeutic nutrition category.


Desired outcomes from regular consumption of the products


The products come with claimed outcomes, that are linked to the ingredients and the role of the ingredients in delivering specific nutrition related benefits. For instance, Ensure products come with the label of delivering complete nutrition for a healthy body. All products reportedly come with a combination, comprising 24 minerals, vitamins. Certain products of Ensure can effectively replace a regular meal or can be taken as an in-between snack to make up for the nutrition gap. Tagged as an inclusive nutritional supplement that delivers the specific needs as per the category of products, Ensure also contains other ingredients. This includes carbohydrate for delivering desired energy levels to the user.


Present in the product as a sweetener, corn maltodextrin, the carbohydrate is a safe ingredient, with formal approval from the FDA. However, it needs to be borne in mind that technically, it belongs to the category of sugar, and contributes to weight gain.  Ensure products also contain water, and this is required due to the nature of the formulation. Apart from the need for meeting hydration requirements, water is also essential for mixing various ingredients. One of the added advantages of water in the product, is its role in helping with weight loss.


Other ingredients in the product include sugar that is linked to the flavor in the product. Depending on the flavor, the amount of sugar may differ and can sometimes be relatively on the higher side. For instance, in certain flavors, for every eight ounces of the product, the amount of sugar could be around 5 teaspoons. This could sometimes result in possible weight gain, and products are generally recommended on the basis of desired outcomes. Ensure also contain sodium as an ingredient, and it is necessary to monitor the intake of sodium from other sources, when on supplements. For instance, there are healthy limits to the amount of sodium that can be taken safely per day. Individuals with high intake of sodium from other products or diets, are to cut down the dietary intake, so as to ensure that the total amount is within recommended limits.


Finally, Ensure products also contain Canola oil and corn oil for delivering energy and fatty acids. Containing alpha-linoleic acid which is considered as essential for a healthy heart, the ingredient is also known to be a good antioxidant. This is necessary for overall health and its presence in the product helps in maintaining overall health standards.


Identify calorific value from the nutrition in Ensure products


As mentioned earlier, the nutrition profile of Ensure products differ, based on the actual product and the category to which it belongs. Depending on the flavor and the product, the number of calories in the average shake could contain anywhere between 150 to 350 calories. Additionally, Ensure also contains around 31 to 52 grams of carbohydrates in each serving (bottle). To set this quantity in context, it is necessary to highlight that the recommended daily intake of carbohydrates is 300 grams for the average adult. This makes it necessary to monitor the combined intake of carbohydrates from all dietary products and supplements to better understand the limits. Apart from the above, the amount of protein in each bottle is around 10 grams, which typically meets a little above 15 percent of the recommended daily intake. Most of the ingredients in the products comprise omega three fatty acids and vitamins, which makes it a well-balanced nutritional supplement.


Suitability of Ensure products for different uses and users


Ensure products are intended for use by different categories of users and are suitable for most individuals due to its relatively safe profile, and proven outcomes. It is specifically suitable for individuals desirous of either losing weight or gaining weight. Sportspersons or athletes in weight training programs generally find supplements such as Ensure suitable to meet the additional nutritional requirements. By virtue of being free from gluten, it is suitable for use by lactose intolerant individuals, or by person who need to rely on gluten free products only. One of the advantages of Ensure is the fact that individuals on the products will typically be able to meet most of their recommended daily vitamins and minerals nutritional requirement. A note of caution is necessary here; it is best not to use Ensure supplements as a meal replacement option for the elderly, due to the differing nutritional needs of the elderly.


Why serving size and label information helps in tracking calorie intake


One of the advantages of nutritional health products is the ability to clearly track the daily intake of proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients. For a clear perspective here’s an example – all food products are typically identified as products that are rich in some nutrient. For instance, meat is known to be rich in protein. However, it may be difficult to know the actual protein intake when one has consumed a particular quantity of meat. There can only be an approximate value and this could be affected by the method of preparation, or the quality of the source. However, in the case of packaged nutritional health supplements there is a clear and quantifiable measure of the amount of proteins or minerals or vitamins intake with each serving. This helps individuals monitor intake levels with greater accuracy and also make suitable modifications to meet the daily requirements. This is essential in  weight loss programs and in weight gain programs.


Possible ensure drink side effects


All health supplements and natural remedies come with the burden of possible side effects and Ensure products are also not free from this possibility. It is necessary to note that the possibility of side effects in a product does not necessarily mean that all users will experience effects. This may actually differ from person to person and in some cases, individuals may not experience any effects at all, while others may experience adverse outcomes. Ensure health products, like most products of the same category, may result in certain common issues such as constipation and flatulence. Individuals are also known to experience feelings of nausea, during the initial stages of taking the product. However, in most of the instances, these effects resolve with regular use. It is more about the body adjusting to the additional  intake of nutrients.


Other possible undesirable outcomes of consuming Ensure products include a change in the heart beat rate. Similarly, individuals may also experience cramps in the muscles, while some may end up with shortness of breath. Additionally, there is also the possibility of vomiting among patients, while many experience diarrhea. While most of the above reported effects are simple, and may not require any medical intervention, it is necessary to seek evaluation if shortness of breath is experienced. Similarly, changes in the pulse (weak pulse), and seizures also warrant medical intervention to prevent the condition from aggravating into a serious condition. A very small section of users is known to experience some changes in mood, or may experience an impact on mental health. While the product does not trigger any interactions, it is important to note that the relatively high levels of sugar make it necessary to seek medical advice when on medications for controlling sugar levels.


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