PEG Tube Feedings: Alternative, Whole-Food Formulas

By Michelle Hamburger

Transitioning from eating-by-mouth to PEG tube feedings can be a difficult process, especially if patients or family members desire healthier, whole-food alternatives to what hospitals and home care programs typically offer. The following paragraphs will highlight a few natural, pre-made formulas which can supply patients with some of the highest quality PEG food available.

A PEG tube (Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastronomy Tube) is a flexible feeding tube placed through the abdominal wall and directly into the stomach, allowing nutrition, fluids, medications and supplements to bypass the mouth and esophagus. This procedure benefits people who have difficulty swallowing or an inability to take nutrition through the mouth. At Conners Clinic this is common for patients with cancer of the mouth, throat or esophagus, or for toddlers or young children who are less likely to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods to maintain their health and bodyweight.

Standard PEG formulas focus primarily on macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats – without much consideration for the source or quality of those nutrients.

Below is a list of ingredients in PEG formula TwoCal-HN, which is commonly used in hospital settings. All ingredients listed in italics are those which Conners Clinic contraindicates for patients dealing with cancer. Many of these ingredients are also contraindicated for patients with any form of auto-immune or chronic dis-ease, due to these foods’ propensity to increase inflammation, hormone imbalances and GI issues.

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Conners Clinic contraindicates the ingestion of:

  • Sugar because of its ability to be a rapid fuel source for cancer.
    Conners Clinic Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lekYtGygMd8
  • Dairy (from both from cows and goats) because of its ability to stimulate growth factor, also known as IGF1. Growth factor increases the rapid replication of cells, which is why baby calfs drink their mother’s milk and develop into a 1,500 pound adult cow.
    Conners Clinic Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtUUE8F1VYA
  • Corn (GMO) because unless corn-based products are labeled non-GMO or organic, corn is typically genetically modified (also known as “Bio Enhanced”). GMO foods act as a form of antibiotic and can damage the healthy bacteria sick patients desperately need.
    Conners Clinic Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5c1PRnkB0A&t=1s
  • Soy because it mimics estrogen in the body and creates complications for patients whose cancers are hormonally driven. Soy is also one of the most common GMO foods, thereby acting as an antibiotic on the human biome.
    Conners Clinic Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CzbZcx70j0&t=2s

There are several companies offering healthy, organic, whole-food PEG formulas. Many hospitals are familiar with these alternatives and certain brands are even covered by insurance.

Liquid Hope by Functional Formularies

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Liquid Hope formulas (for teenagers and adults) are the most recognized alternative PEG food in hospital settings and are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid. Developed by company Functional Formularies, Liquid Hope is certified organic, plant-based, dairy and gluten-free, non-GMO and packaged in BPA-free packaging. A single 12-ounce pouch supplies 450 calories. More info can be found at www.FunctionalFormularies.com.

Nourish by Functional Formularies

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Nourish is the pediatric version of Liquid Hope, also developed by Functional Formularies and covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Liquid Hope is dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, gluten-free, non-GMO and packaged in BPA-free packaging. A single 12-ounce pouch supplies 400 calories, which meets caloric intake standards for young children. More info can be found at www.FunctionalFormularies.com.

Real Food Blends

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Real Food Blends is a whole-food PEG formula which does not contain corn syrup or preservatives. RFB is 100 percent real food and a 9.4-ounce pouch supplies between 330-340 calories (depending upon the specific ingredients). On their website, RFB offers an insurance coverage list for interested shoppers. If patients see their insurance provider on the list, they can complete an online intake form and an RFB representative will make a callback to discuss options and determine whether they’re a good candidate. More info can be found at www.RealFoodBlends.com.

Kate Farms

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Kate Farms is dairy-free, lactose-free, soy-free, gluten-free, corn-free and nut-free. Kate Farms is completely plant based, organic, and supplies 500 calories in each 11 fluid-ounce container. Except for the formula Komplete, all Kate Farms products are eligible for coverage with Medicare, Medi-Cal and most Medicaid and private insurance plans. More info can be found at www.KateFarms.com.

Some hospitals may initially refuse to accommodate certain dietary adjustments, but don’t lose hope. Slowly and respectfully work your way up the chain-of-command until you reach somebody who can help move your requests forward. You may have to make some minor adjustments to meet the hospital halfway, but by following the above guidelines there shouldn’t be many issues.

Michelle Hamburger was a former patient at Conners Clinic, and is currently the lead Clinical Kinesiologist and distance program director. For more information on Conners Clinic, please visit www.ConnersClinic.com.