Is ‘Ensure’ good enough for your elderly parents, your kids or you?

My  90-year-old father-in-law is living in a nursing home because he cannot walk, has limited use of his hands and multiple health challenges. His mind is surprisingly sharp, but he’s fading and not wanting to go to the dining room for his meals.

Did you know that the nursing home gold standard for a liquid meal replacement is ‘Ensure’, which is a sugar-water, low-protein, canned drink (dead food) routinely offered to elderly people who are unable or unwilling to eat conventional meals? It’s also now being promoted to younger people as a ‘high-quality’ meal replacement.

Malnutrition is one expected end-result of a regular diet of Ensure. In addition, many of its ingredients have been proven to contribute towards developing diabetes and obesity.

Remember that a food label has to list ingredients – most to least – Ensure’s first five ingredients are water, oils and sugars. Its top two ingredients are the same as a soft drink – water and sugar!

Ensure has only 9 g protein and less than 1 g fiber. It has 200 mg sodium and 18 g sugar from corn syrup and other bulk sweeneners. Other ingredients include natural and artificial flavors and colors, a pharmaceutical drug that is a form of Vitamin B12, a thickener and stabilizer that has been linked to causing health problems from stomach upset to cancer, and added vitamins of questionable quality and strength.

It’s been 7 years since Mike Adams, founder of wrote about Ensure on his website – and not much has changed, except that Ensure’s manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories now promotes Ensure and Ensure Plus as healthy meal alternatives for everyone. In 2004 Adams wrote that Ensure “apparently lacks trace minerals. It has no live food enzymes, there are no whole foods in here, there are no high-density superfood sources, there are no vegetables from the sea, there are no health-supporting herbs, and even the vitamins and minerals that it does offer are not in their optimum form for maximum bioavailability.”

How do you feel about Ensure now that you know what’s in it. How’d you like to try to survive on it, as its manufacturers encourage the elderly to do? It is good enough for your elderly parents – or YOU - if you ever have to move into a nursing home?

Is there a healthy alternative? You bet there is!

The Isagenix IsaLean shake (same size and number of calories) has more than 2 1/2 times Ensure’s protein  – 24 g undenatured whey protein from New Zealand, 4 times the fiber in Ensure – 4 g, almost half the sodium of Ensure -  115 mg, and 16 g of low-glycemic index sugar from beets and pears – which helps keep blood sugar stable.

The IsaLean Shake, chocolate or vanilla flavor, has essential trace minerals, vitamins, healthy fats,and digestive enzymes that help the body absorb nutrients.

Ensure, Isagenix, meal replacement

Ensure is pre-mixed and so has no digestive enzymes, it has several added stabilizers and cheap thickeners to give the taste and ‘mouth feel’ of a high fat product, sweeteners derived from corn – a problem if you have corn allergies, artificial sweeteners and flavors, milk and soy protein concentrates of unspecified quality. Even though the additives and sweeteners have obviously been chosen because of their low calorie count, low calorie artificial ingredients are still artificial and not life enhancing. Don’t you want the best nutrition for your parents and yourself?

One or more Isagenix shakes every day would make a huge difference in the health of elderly people - and anyone of any age over 2 years.

This weekend we’re introducing my father-in-law to a chocolate IsaLean Shake. If he’s willing and I can convince the staff at the nursing home to mix the shake powder, water and ice to a shake maker, and then clean the shaker afterward, I’ll order several boxes of single-serving packets for him.

Isagenix, Ensure

Ensure, which is so clearly lacking in nutrition, is NOT a nourishing food for anyone! It’s junk food masquerading as a high quality protein meal replacement. Don’t you agree that our parents and children deserve better than that, and so do we?

A Quick Comparison of IsaLean Shake and Ensure

  Isagenix IsaLean Shake (Chocolate) Ensure Ensure Plus Ensure High Protein

(Creamy Milk Chocolate)

Calories per serving 240 250 350 230
Calories from fat 50 54 99 54
Protein 23 g undenatured whey protein from New Zealand – no hormones or antibiotics given to cows 9 g protein 13.5 g protein 25 g milk protein concentrate & soy (undetermined origin and quality)
Fiber 4 g 1 g 3 g 3 g
Sodium 115 mg 200 mg 250 mg 280 mg
Sugar 15 g beet & pear sugar to better manage blood sugar levels 18 g sugar from corn syrup 18-22 g sugar from corn syrup 5 g artificial and corn-derived sweeteners
Downside to using - Must be made fresh immediately before drinking – Mix in shake maker or blender: 2 scoops shake powder in 1 cup water and ice. -  Contains artificial sweeteners & flavors

-  Contains several stabilizer and thickeners to mimic high fat taste & feel

-  High sodium levels

-  No digestive enzymes

-  Small amounts of vitamins and minerals


Advantages to using - High quality, low-heat non-fat dry whey protein

- Contains high levels of essential vitamins and minerals; no artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors

- Helps build lean muscle

- Contains digestive enzymes to enable easy absorption of nutrients

- Low sodium

- Make fresh immediately before drinking.

- Pre-mixed

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Leave A Reply (6 comments so far)

  1. Michelle
    7 years ago

    Wow .. great article .. so what happened ? Is you father-in-law now enjoying a delicious chocolate shake ?

    • Wendy Vineyard
      7 years ago

      Unfortunately the next day the nursing home had a ‘lock down’ because of an influenza outbreak and we were unable to see him again during that visit. I will introduce him to the chocolate IsaLean Shakes on our next trip and I’ll blog about what happens. Thanks for asking.

  2. Juanita
    6 years ago

    I am a 45 year old female with really small bones. I just recently lost 20 lbs eating mushroom and vegetable soup for dinner every night, and of course working out twice a day. Though, with all those changes, my main concern is still my poor tiny bones. So, when I saw the Ensure “bone health” at the supermarket, I thought I’ld purchase it and give it a try. But, I was not quite content to let that 20lbs creep back on me…and so,this week, I read enough of “Ensure” articles that when I got to your article, I am totally convinced that this is not the right thing to do. The worst thing is, it is an aweful thing to do to our elderly! Thanks for the tip.

    • Wendy Vineyard
      6 years ago

      Thank you for your comment Juanita. I was shocked at what’s in Ensure too. It’s always a good idea to stay away from low quality ‘food’ products.

      Re: your bones. If you want to use an absorbable, natural calcium, drink herbal tea made with your choice of 1-2 tsp dried stinging nettle, oatstraw, peppermint and let it steep for 10 minutes or longer so the nutrients from the herbs end up in the water. Enjoy 1 cup 3 times daily.

      A nutrition tip: eat a small piece of high quality protein at every meal. Don’t starve yourself. Your health and wellness is more important than being skinny.

  3. Nursing Home
    6 years ago

    Thanks for your info, good to learn other folks perspectives and thoughts

    • Wendy Vineyard
      6 years ago

      My father-in-law was unable to have the IsaLean shakes because it is too disruptive to the nursing home routine.

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