I was diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption in April 2015. After several years of digestive issues related to food allergies and intolerances, this was the last piece of the puzzle. Read more about My Personal Journey with Allergies HERE. This was why after altering my diet to accommodate my food allergies, I STILL had digestive symptoms. What is Fructose Malabsorption? Stick with me here to find out more.
Fructose itself is a simple sugar that comes from mostly fruits, and some vegetables. It is also in honey, agave nectar, and processed foods with added sugar. Fructose malabsorption occurs when cells on the surface of the small intestine aren’t able to absorb or break down fructose properly or efficiently. Undigested fructose is then carried into the colon causing swelling in the intestines. It is a fairly common disorder, affecting 1 in 3 people in the United States. There is no known cure, but there are treatments that help manage this condition.
Symptoms of fructose malabsorption include bloating, distention of the stomach, diarrhea or constipation, stomach pain, and flatulence. Some less common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, chronic fatigue, and malabsorption of key nutrients such as iron.
The symptoms and length vary from person to person since everyone has a different tolerance for fructose. Some people experience more severe symptoms than others. The length of symptoms also depends on how much fructose a person eats at a given time.
The following are the most likely causes.
There are 2 main ways doctors diagnose this condition. A Fructose Malabsorption Breath Test may be performed by a doctor. This test is non-invasive and fairly simple. With this test, your breath is analyzed for hydrogen gas.
First, you drink a cup of fructose dissolved in water. Breath results are recorded for the next three hours.
If there is a high presence of hydrogen, it indicates your body has difficulty absorbing the fructose.
A Fructose Elimination Diet is also used to determine this condition. Eat foods that are low in fructose or contain no fructose for 3 to 4 weeks, then reintroduce foods one at a time. When you begin reintroducing foods, keep a journal and track any symptoms that occur. Wait three days, or until any side effects subside before introducing the next food. Start with a small amount of the food, and if there are no side effects, eat a larger amount later in the day and see what happens. If you continue to experience symptoms consult your doctor for more testing. A breath test may be needed to confirm a diagnosis. It is recommended you work with your doctor and a dietitian during this process.
There are several treatment options. Follow a low fructose diet, and/or take a daily probiotic or enzymes prescribed by your doctor. Treatment varies from person to person because everyone has a different tolerance for fructose.
Check out my LOW FRUCTOSE DIET GUIDE below.
It’s important to note that just because a particular food is on the FOODS TO AVOID list, does not mean you can’t ever eat it. If you can tolerate small quantities of it, then eat it. For example, honey is on this list. I know, after trial and error, I can only eat approximately 1 tsp of honey at a time. Work with your doctor and a dietitian to help you determine what foods are best for you.
These terms are sometimes used interchangeably but are NOT the same, which causes confusion. Hereditary Fructose Intolerance is a serious condition. It is a rare genetic disorder usually diagnosed in infants. This condition occurs because the body does not produce the enzyme needed to break down fructose. If not treated it can lead to liver and kidney failure.
If you or someone you know experience any of the symptoms mentioned in this post, I urge you to consult a doctor. This condition is very painful and often confusing because the symptoms are similar to other disorders. Don’t wait!
Please LEAVE A COMMENT with any questions or concerns. I sincerely would love to chat with you about your struggles. I get it. I’ve been there and still continue to struggle some days.
Blessings, Laura xo
NOTE: Health information contained in this post is provided for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for a diagnosis and should never be used for specific medical advice. Please consult a health care professional for questions, concerns, or treatment.