What is Fructose Malabsorption or Fructose Intolerance?
There are hundreds of different intolerances that we have to deal with in this day and age. Something that would have been dismissed years ago is now something that we can pinpoint the cause of like fructose intolerance. Before you try to understand what fructose intolerance is it is helpful to know what fructose is. Fructose is the natural sugar that is found in the fruits that we eat every day. As such, fructose is harder to avoid than you might imagine making life for those with a fructose intolerance harder than you think.
Fructose intolerance is the process in which the body is not able to absorb the fructose you eat fully which can result in gas and discomfort. Though side effects do vary from person to person, it is the general consensus that fructose intolerance does cause pain and discomfort that can interfere with day to day life.
Anytime that the body fails to absorb or fully use something that we eat, problems with our gut and digestive tract ensue making for a very uncomfortable situation. Fructose intolerance is more common than you might imagine and if often passed off as indigestion or simple gas.
10 Symptoms of Fructose Malabsorption
Since fructose intolerance is more common than you might imagine, knowing what symptoms to look for is certainly helpful.
If you have ever had bloating after eating fruit it might not be the extra fiber that is causing it. In some people, the bloating is immediate while in others it can take an hour or so for the fruit to reach the gut and to be malabsorbed. This can be painful bloating to something as simple as s fullness that you cannot explain.
In most cases, it is relative to how much fructose you have eaten and how much the body is trying to process.
Abdominal Cramps and Pain
If you are experiencing pain after you eat fructose you are likely intolerant. Pain can be severe or it can be a slight pain. In most cases, this is again going to relate to how much fructose you ate and how intolerant you are. For some, the pain comes and goes while for other the pain is constant requiring medication or even a trip to the hospital in some very extreme cases.
For some, fructose can cause heavy diarrhea. This is far worse than just a loose stool, this can cause dehydration, serious pain, headaches, and even stomach upset. If you are experiencing diarrhea, it is important to up fluid intake and to make sure you do not become dehydrated as this can lead to other, more severe complications that cannot be reversed.
Fructose that is not absorbed can cause severe diarrhea and often times it is going to be accompanied by pain, cramps, and even bloating in some cases.
For others, the stomach troubles go the other way. For some, the main issue is going to be constipation. Our bodies all react differently to the same stimuli and where one individual may have loose stools, another could become bound up so to speak and need something like a laxative or fiber supplement to move the fructose out of the system.
For those that are experiencing constipation as a result of fructose intolerance, it is suggested that you drink plenty of water to help move the fructose out of your body so that you can start to feel better and start to regain balance.
Increased Intestinal Sounds
Doctors say that a noisy gut is a healthy gut but for those with fructose intolerance, the noise may be a bit louder than usual. For some that have fructose intolerance, a noisy gut, growling stomach, or rolling stomach can be a direct result of the intolerance. As our bodies try to process what we have eaten, gas is produced.
In most, the gas produced is a healthy amount that is used to help move the nutrients out of the food and into our bodies. When the stomach meets a road block so to speak, it might make a bit more noise trying to get around it.
As with the added noise, your gut is going to be producing far more gas. This is a compensatory action by your gut to try and process what it is having trouble with. Much like when we eat too many onions or other difficult to digest foods. Our bodies are working overtime to try to process what was eaten even when it is having trouble.
If you have fructose intolerance, your body is going to try its hardest to process the fructose even if it is unsuccessful in the end.
Another issue you may run into is acid reflux. Reflux is the process by which the stomach acids make their way back up the esophagus. At the base of our esophagus is a muscle that keeps the contents of our stomachs down. When we eat something that irritates our stomachs, the acid makes its way back up and can cause pain, an acidic taste in the mouth, and even very bad pain in the throat.
You may be able to take antacids to help but in the long run, avoiding fructose is the only way to prevent this symptom.
Lowered Folic Acid Levels in the Blood
Scientists have found that those with fructose intolerance might have lowered levels of zinc or folic acids in their blood. This is of course something that you are going to have to have your doctor test for. Folic acid does help with brain health and with brain formation in the fetuses of pregnant women.
If you feel that you may have fructose intolerance, you should speak with your doctor about what tests there are to determine if you are in fact fructose intolerant.
For some, symptoms may be as mild as vague nausea or stomach upset. For those that are lucky enough to have only nausea, it might not seem like you have any issue. For many, the symptoms start as nausea and may get worse as you go on. Nausea can often be remedied by taking a stomach medication or drinking a glass of water.
In most cases, you are going to feel nausea a while after ingesting the fructose, for some, the feeling is immediate. Those that do have stomach upset can stop eating fructose for a time to see if it is the culprit.
For an unlucky few vomiting is a symptom. This might be something as violent as vomiting as soon as you eat the fructose to a delayed reaction that takes a time to set in. Generally, vomiting is paired with indigestion and reflux, it may even be caused by the reflux itself. In many cases, the symptoms of fructose intolerance are very similar to those symptoms that you would have if you were experiencing irritable bowel syndrome.
For anyone experiencing these symptoms, you may want to speak with your doctor about possible diagnosis and possible solutions to your fructose intolerance.
Foods High in Fructose
Fructose is not necessarily horrible for you but if you have an intolerance, it can cause a world of trouble. Here are ten foods high in fructose.
- Banana – They are tasty and great for snacking but they are also high in fructose.
- Blackberry – These sweet little treats can have as much as 1 g of fructose per half a cup.
- Cherry – Five cherries can have as much as 2 or more grams of fructose.
- Figs – Fresh figs have less fructose than dried figs but they still pack a wollop with around 2 g of fructose per fruit.
- Kiwi – Kiwi are very high fructose with a staggering 2 grams or more of fructose per fruit.
- Mango – Mango also have a stunning 2 grams of fructose per half a fruit.
- Grapefruit – Though these are great for getting full, they have up to 2 g of fructose for one-half of a fruit.
- Pineapple – ½ of a cup of pineapple has up to 2 g of fructose.
- Dried Fruits – Dried fruits have far more fructose than fruits in their natural state for the simple reason that they are dehydrated and the fructose concentrates.
- Apple – Apples are mid-range according to the fructose scale with about 1 g of fructose per fruit.
As a good rule, the sweeter the fruit the higher the fructose level. A good example is a pineapple and a cranberry. Cranberries are tart and have far less fructose than a pineapple that is sickly sweet. For those that love fruits but have a fructose intolerance, avoiding these fruits may help.