Is Ensure Good For You?

Ensure is a supplement drink that is designed to help people meet their nutritional goals. This drink is often recommended for people who have a hard time eating and drinking normally, whether it is a picky child or an adult recovering from surgery. It can also be used to help people gain weight. But is Ensure actually healthy? Here's what you should know.

According to Ensure's website, each drink provides "all 9 essential amino acids for optimal muscle growth" and a long list of vitamins and minerals. Ensure also contains "supporting ingredients" for flavor and texture. One of these is sucralose, which is an artificial sweetener that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1998 (via Cleveland Clinic). However, there is still a lot of controversy about the safety of this calorie-free sweetener. Some studies have suggested that sucralose can mess with your microbiome balance in your gut and cause inflammation.

"We know long-term inflammation can contribute to a variety of problems, including obesity and diabetes," registered dietician Kate Patton, RD, told Cleveland Clinic. "But we need more research to find out if sucralose causes the same changes in human microbiomes as it does in animals."

Ensure can be helpful to people with specific health needs

Although Ensure offers a good nutrient profile, its artificial sweetener content is not great for the body. However, it may be a good option for people who are having a hard time getting all the nutrients they need through their diet alone. According to Robert H. Shmerling, MD via Harvard Health, if you are "losing weight involuntarily and don't carry excess weight in the first place, or if you can't take in adequate nutrition, you might benefit from nutritional supplements."

Still, Shmerling notes that the "vast majority of people can get all the nutrition they need from their diet" and that there is "absolutely no evidence" that Ensure can improve the health of anyone who doesn't have a health problem. It is always the best option to get your nutrients from whole foods if possible. If you feel like you are not getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet, talk to your doctor. They can help you find the holes in your diet and refer you to a nutritionist if necessary.