The Fructose Malabsorption Diet
What Is Fructose Malabsorption?
Dietary fructose intolerance occurs when the small intestine is not capable of processing fructose and fructans properly. This causes excess fructose in the intestinal tract and symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
What Is fructose?
Fructose is a dietary sugar that falls into the category of monosaccharides. It is a simple sugar, meaning that it is made up of a single sugar molecule. When digested, simple sugars absorb directly into the blood stream and are metabolized by the liver.
Commercially produced sources of fructose include white table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and sucrose. Fructose naturally occurs in honey, fruits and some vegetables.
The author has personal experience with this condition and was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption in 2014.
Do I Have to Give up Sugar Entirely?
Not exactly. You just can't eat as much of it as an average person. It is common for people with this disorder to be able to consume less than 25g of sugar in one sitting. Any more than this will lead to symptoms like bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and/or constipation; but a fructose-free diet is not usually necessary.
Experiment with a low fructose diet, as the right amount of fructose will vary from person to person. Beware the attitude of "I'd rather deal with the discomfort than give up my dessert," though; some other side effects of a fructose allergy are:
- Deficiency in some rather important vitamins and amino acids
- Anxiety, mood swings
- Lethargy or fatigue
Problematic Foods for the Fructose Intolerant
Apples, Boysenberry, Cherries, Dried fruit, Figs, Fruit juice, Grapes, Mango, Nectarine, Pears, Peaches, Watermelon
Artichoke, Asparagus, Baked beans, Cabbage, Cashews, Chickpeas, Dandelion greens, Edamame, Fennel, Garlic (in large amounts), Kale, Leeks, Lentils, Okra, Onion, Pistachios, Radicchio, Red kidney beans, Shallot, Sugar snap peas, Tomato sauces
Barley, Brown rice, Rye, Wheat
Agave nectar, Corn syrup solids, High fructose corn syrup, Honey, Molasses
Foods to Avoid
Processed Foods and Drinks
- Any sweetened drink, diet or not, should be avoided. This includes soda, sweet tea, flavored coffees and more. Technically, this rule is true for everyone, not just FructMal sufferers.
- Artificially sugar products of any kind - sorbitol, xylitol, and others. It should be noted that chewing gum, and any product advertised as "zero calorie," is usually sweetened with one of these products.
- Inulin (chicory root) - often added as a source of fiber to foods like yogurt, cereal and granola.
- Pastries of any kind.
More Easily Tolerated Sources of Fructose
It should be noted that consuming glucose with fructose can help with fructose absorption; therefore, foods that have fructose in equal or lesser amounts than glucose will be better tolerated.
Avocado, Banana, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Clementine, Coconut, Cranberries, Grapefruit, Grapes, Honeydew melon, Kiwi, Lemon, Lime, Mulberries, Orange, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tangelos
Arugula, Bamboo shoots, Bean sprouts, Bok choy, Carrots, Celery, Chili pepper, Chives, Collard greens, Cucumber, Eggplant, Green beans, Leaf lettuce, Mustard greens, Parsnip, Potato (white), Pumpkin, Rutabaga, Scallions (green part), Seaweed, Spinach, Summer squash, Swiss chard, Turnips, Water chestnuts, Zucchini (peeled)
Dextrose (glucose), Glucose syrup, Rice malt syrup, Malt extract, Stevia (made from the leaf and without any added ingredients like inulin)
- Some people are okay with 100% maple syrup and small amounts of table sugar (sucrose), as well.
- Wheat may or may not cause problems. It is best to stick to a low-wheat diet, although it is not necessary to be gluten-free.
Still Feeling Ill After Following a Low-Fructose Diet?
Consider taking the FODMAP diet for a test drive. The diet is also commonly referred to as "the IBS diet," and eliminates other troublesome items from wreaking havoc in your intestines.
Or, better yet, see a nutritionist to begin a protocol for healing leaky gut - this is probably the reason you are having these problems in the first place.
Have you been diagnosed with fructose malabsorption? What foods do you have the most trouble with? What foods don't bother you? Please, answer below in the comments.
© 2013 Kristine McAdams