What is this problem that is prevalent in today’s society? It is the intestines’ inability to absorb fructose into our body. The fructose from foods therefore passes into the lower intestines and begins to ferment, causing gases and other by-products. Fructose (if you don’t already know), is the sugar that is mainly found in fruits. Food malabsorption (or intolerance), is very different to food allergies and the two shouldn’t be confused. Food allergies are where an immediate reaction occurs in response to a certain food, such as difficulty in breathing, rashes or swollen lips (and may be life-threatening). A food malabsorption (such as fructose), develops over time, affecting your immune system and in some cases, (10%), people never experience the symptoms.
Around 30% of adults may have malabsorption of fructose and will experience common symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramps or pain, diarrhoea, constipation, increased gas, reflux, nausea, vomiting, headaches, migraines, hypoglycaemia and other aches and pains. Not only are these symptoms associated with the fructose malabsorption, but our body misses out on the vital nutrients from these foods, like iron and calcium. The symptoms may not always be very noticeable however; they may be more noticeable after consuming very large quantities of sugar.
Fructose malabsorption can be caused by stress or inflammation of the intestinal system or even through genetics. However, it is possible for your doctor to diagnose this through a hydrogen breath-test.
There are many foods, not just fruits, which contain fructose. These include some vegetables (asparagus, green beans, shallots, garlic, and leeks), some grains, as well as sports drinks, sugar-free substitutes and high fructose corn syrups (HFCS), which are found in many processed foods and drinks.
The best way to manage fructose malabsorption is to reduce your intake of foods which contain a high level of fructose. Some studies suggest that taking glucose (another form of sugar) with meals can help with the absorption of fructose. Each individual will have their own level of fructose malabsorption and will therefore need to modify their diet according to symptomatic relief. Always when addressing this sort of issue speak with a health professional (your doctor or a qualified nutritionist/dietician). There are also some reputable websites which go into this issue and other similar food intolerances in more detail, check out http://www.foodintol.com/sugar.