Fructose malabsorption is something we’re hearing more and more about…But what exactly is fructose malabsorption, how do you know if you have it, and which foods should be avoided? Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine answers all your questions.
A short-chain carbohydrate, fructose is a simple sugar that’s small in size. Fructose is present in many fruits, some vegetables and certain liquid sweeteners. It’s also found in wheat in the form of fructose chains called ‘fructans’.
While the other simple sugars, glucose and sucrose, have no problems being absorbed in the small intestine, fructose, when consumed in a higher ratio to glucose can cause a couple of issues:
In some of us, and particularly individuals with IBS who have gut hypersensitivity, fructose can’t be absorbed in the small intestine. This can lead to osmosis in the gut, where excess water travels through the bowel – a recipe for diarrhoea, or in some, constipation (or a combination of the two).
Because fructose is a FODMAP, i.e., a fermentable carbohydrate, it can leave some of us feeling gassy and bloated, often with accompanying nausea and/or a gut ache.
A hydrogen or methane breath test can determine fructose that hasn’t been absorbed.
Alternatively, an elimination diet can be helpful in determining whether fructose is causing gut distress; the low FODMAP diet eliminates all kinds of fermentable carbohydrates, enabling you to pinpoint which one (or ones) in particular is the potential problem.
Speak to your healthcare practitioner for more information and professional guidance; we do not advocate self-diagnosis.
Which foods are high in fructose?
Individuals with fructose malabsorption can still enjoy a serve or two a day of certain foods containing fructose (yay!), as long as there’s a lower ratio of fructose:glucose - like in: