Research Corner: Encala™ - A new medical food for treating malabsorption
Updated: Mar 18
By Ella Balasa
For most of us, ever since being children, we have struggled with weight gain - consuming diets with high calorie and fats and supplementing our daily caloric intake with high-calorie weight gain shakes - yet absorption of these fats remains an issue.
There is a new product called Encala, created by Envara Health, which is the first medical food formulated specifically to help people with CF absorb more healthy fat calories, vitamins A and K, and choline.
It provides highly absorbable fat calories (6 grams of healthy fats and 100 calories per serving) as well as essential fatty acids to meals, blended beverages or snacks. It also helps the body to better absorb the fat and fat-soluble vitamins that are already present in your food. This is what makes this product quite unique.
So how exactly does Encala work and differ from other weight gain supplement options?
Despite using pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) up to 25% of the fats we consume are not absorbed. Encala, when added to food and beverages, allows additional essential fats, vitamins, and choline to be absorbed beyond what PERT can do. If you didn’t know, choline is an essential nutrient that helps improve general health in patients with CF, among other benefits.
A key ingredient of Encala is lysophosphatidylcholine, an easily absorbed choline-rich lipid that directly enhances dietary fat and essential fatty acid absorption in the mucosa and has been shown to increase skeletal muscle choline.
The fat in Encala is “healthy fat” that includes the two essential long-chain fatty acids (linolenic acid and alpha-linolenic acid), which supply more calories per gram than the medium chain fatty acids that are commonly found in therapeutic nutritional products.
Encala is a taste-neutral, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO powder made entirely from plants and has no added sugars.
Encala is a taste-neutral, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO powder made entirely from plants and has no added sugars.High sugar-containing nutritional supplements are an issue I have personally encountered with many of the weight gain products I have tried in the past. For those with CF-related diabetes, controlling sugar intake is key in managing insulin levels.
What did Encala clinical trial results yield?
In a National Institutes of Health-funded study, 110 people with CF added Encala to their food for one year (2 servings per day for patients under 12 and 3 servings for patients 12 and older). Results showed that Encala helped people with CF improve overall fat absorption by 8% as measured by the change in stool coefficient of fat absorption (CFA) allowing them to reach and maintain weight, height, and BMI targets.
In the course of the study, Encala was found to be safe. It was also well-tolerated, which means it did not result in any significant side effects in the patients who received it.
Tips on how to use it:
I personally tried Encala a few different ways. I frequently consume high-calorie milkshakes with protein powder, milk, and fruits, and it was easy to mix a scoop of Encala into it in the blender. I didn’t taste it, it didn’t make the shake too thick, and it was easy. I tried it in yogurt as well and it didn’t affect the taste or consistency.
Encala is also safe to be cooked into foods on high heat. I added it to my mashed potatoes. After I boiled and peeled my potatoes, I mixed it into the sour cream and butter which is easily dissolved into when stirring on the stove.
Here are a few more ideas:
· The amount of Encala to add to a specific dish or beverage will depend on the volume of food. For example, a cup of tuna salad may be best with a half serving (1 tablespoon)
· Consider using Encala with creamy foods and foods with multiple ingredients
· Add Encala to the powdered ingredients when preparing your favorite pancake or waffle recipes
· After adding Encala to water-based foods, such as applesauce, allow a few minutes before eating for best dissolvability
· Patients have shared that Encala works really well in peanut butter, chili, oatmeal, pancakes, softened or melted butter, milkshakes, smoothies, and chocolate syrup.
You should talk with your doctor to determine how many servings a day are needed to reach your daily calorie and weight goals. Think of the dose of Encala as a daily amount to be spread across all meals, snacks, and beverages. Even using a half or quarter serving will add fat absorption benefits to that food or beverage, depending on its size.
If you have any product questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you interested in trying Encala?
You can find step-by-step reimbursement support and resources here and the Reimbursement Support Form that your doctor should fill out. For assistance, call the reimbursement support team at 484-352-3360 or e-mail Reimburse@EnvaraHealth.com.
It is suggested that you work with your CF center doctor or dietitian to submit through your insurance. It is also a product that is reimbursable through the HealthWell Vitamins and Supplements Grant.
Find more tips and resources by following @EncalaNutrition on Instagram and Facebook. You can search #Encala or #EncalaNutrition to find recipes, tips, and news. And if you try Encala and have a new recipe you love that you have tried it in, share it with them through social!
About the Author: Ella is a director for USACFA. She is 28 years old and was diagnosed with CF at 18 months old. She has a B.S. in biology and serves on various research committees, authors journal submissions, and shares her health journey to provide a scientific voice and encourage empowerment to the CF community. She also writes about the hardship yet triumph of chronic disease. When she is not taking care of her health, she enjoys cooking, drawing, and spending time with friends. View more of her work and experiences on her website, www.ellabalasa.com.