Fructose intolerance is a controversial topic that elicits debate among many physicians and patients alike. It affects many people globally and is characterized by myriad symptoms, including bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
What’s more, it’s a digestive disorder whereby the small intestines fail to absorb fructose allowing it to pass through to the colon. This leads to an increased concentration of fructose in the intestines leading to a watery bowel movement and many other discomforts.
What causes fructose malabsorption?
1. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
This is a bacterial infestation of the distal small intestine, a part of the digestive tract system that should be bacteria-free. The bacteria access the sugars in the small intestines and ferment them. Also, they damage the gastric mucosa, inhibiting the effective transportation of sugars. The leading causes of SIBO are GI surgery, malnutrition, immune deficiency, and low stomach acid.
2. Acute gastroenteritis
It’s believed that colonic flora may determine the severity of fructose intolerance symptoms; this is because some patients report that the symptoms begin after an infection or antibiotic treatment. If you have an infection, you’ll likely have multiple opportunistic organisms in the gut resulting in flora and an imbalance. This leads to inadequate levels of beneficial bacteria and enhances the severity of the symptoms.
3. Coeliac disease Crohn’s disease
Fructose malabsorption is more prevalent among Crohn’s disease patients and those with coeliac disease. These illnesses damage the epithelial membrane of the small intestine, preventing the absorption of carbs. With Crohn’s disease, your body is unable to absorb essential vitamins and minerals and sometimes excretes them. This is why patients suffering from this disease often suffer malnutrition.
3. Unsupported digestive function
Fructose malabsorption may result from low stomach acids and digestive enzymes. These lead to a non-sterile environment in the small intestines leading to SIBO. Inadequate digestive enzymes mean that what you eat is inadequately broken down and poorly absorbed. This results in poor nutritional status and fructose malabsorption, too.
4. Intestinal permeability
Intestinal permeability is also referred to as a leaky gut syndrome associated with perforations on the gut wall. This causes inflammation and damage to the gut wall hindering optimal absorption of nutrients. Also, the damages affect the defense barrier capability of the gut wall, which worsens the condition. The common causes of intestinal permeability are medication, poor nutrition, stress, coeliac disease, food allergies, fructose, and lactose intolerance.
How can you manage the condition?
The first step to managing fructose malabsorption is through testing. A hydrogen breath test for SIBO will determine whether you suffer from fructose intolerance. The doctor will then manage the condition using nutritional and herbal supplements. It’s also advisable to cut on fructose-rich foods like mangoes, watermelons, and apples. Therefore, discuss healthy food options and sweeteners with your doctor and design a diet plan to help manage your condition.
In summary, there are many fructose malabsorption causes. The problem develops over time, and it’s common to hear people complaining of irritable bowel-type symptoms and stomach aches before being diagnosed with the condition. If you suspect that you are fructose intolerant, go for a test, and learn of the treatment options available.