Everyone Should Eat Fruit, Right?
Wrong, not if you have fructose intolerance! Food intolerances as a source of health complaints have become more and more well known, and among the heavy hitters is gluten intolerance. What used to be an almost unknown food issue just 5 years ago is mentioned now in almost every type of media from newspaper articles to television ads. I even saw a restaurant advertising their gluten free menu on the side of a bus just the other day! Other common food intolerances include dairy, eggs, corn and soy.
But Fruit Intolerance, Really?
Yes, that’s right, the specific sugar in fruit is called fructose and different fruits vary in the amount of fructose that they contain. For example, apples and pears have higher fructose content than berries, citrus fruits or stone fruits (peaches, apricots, nectarines). Other foods that are high in fructose are corn syrup, honey and agave. Even good old table sugar, otherwise known as sucrose, is half fructose and half glucose. Someone with fructose malabsorption may not tolerate any foods that are too high in sugar.
Possible Symptoms …
Fructose malabsorption, once called dietary fructose intolerance, is a problem of improper breakdown of fructose in the small intestine and so the undigested fructose particles get into the large intestine and cause IBS-like symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea or alternation of the two. From here, additional symptoms like bloating, gas, headaches, rashes, acne and eczema can also be present as well as changes in mood and outlook. These last 2 mental health symptoms are not uncommon with fructose malabsorption, research has shown that fructose specifically breaks down the amino acid tryptophan which is a protein building block to the feel good neurotransmitter serotonin. The research that shows a strong correlation of women with depression and fructose malabsorption is very real.
Finding fructose malabsorption by testing is done the same way as testing for lactose intolerance, with a hydrogen breath test. If test results are positive it still doesn’t distinguish whether fructose or lactose is the culprit so one is still left to do an elimination of fructose containing foods and assess any change in symptoms and functional experience.
You’ve Tried Everything…maybe.
So, if you are someone who has eliminated gluten, maybe even dairy, you’ve tried the Paleo diet, gone vegan, taken probiotics, enzymes and acid, you’ve added greens to your morning smoothie, made bone broths, increased your veggie intake, ate healthy fats and counted your carbs……and you still suffer from digestive, skin and/or mood problems…well, you just might have fructose malabsorption! Have you ever noticed that you tolerate small amounts of maple syrup far better than honey or agave which make you bloated and tired? This might seem like splitting hairs but when you’ve tried everything in order to feel better you tend to have a vigilante radar as to how you respond to different foods! If you notice this difference between maple syrup and the other sweeteners I mentioned, your next step just might be to eliminate fructose for 3-4 weeks and see how you feel! Fructose malabsorption can be the problem for those people that have Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity and say that they still don’t feel well!
If you feel you have tried everything, but haven’t tried fructose elimination, it’s worth a try, there’s really nothing to lose!