4-4-4 Sugar Challenge

Diagnosing sucrose (table sugar) intolerance can be problematic since the symptoms are similar to several other more common gastrointestinal disorders, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Diarrhea (IBS-D), celiac disease or lactose intolerance. Some people have chronic symptoms for months or even years, and seek medical treatment, but sucrose intolerance is not considered as a diagnosis. Those individuals with chronic unresolved GI symptoms are seeking answers and may benefit from a challenge that could indicate that sucrose intolerance is worth exploring as a possible diagnosis.

Sucrose intolerance, formally known as Genetic Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (GSID), is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to digest certain sugars due to absent or low levels of two digestive enzymes, sucrase and isomaltase. Sucrase and isomaltase are involved in the digestion of sugar and starch, respectively. Symptoms of this enzyme deficiency are chronic, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, gassiness and even constipation. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from mild to severe.

As we said, doctors do not often look for sucrose intolerance, and patients do not generally know about the condition. Fortunately, there is a 4-4-4 Sugar Challenge you can do in the privacy of your own home. This challenge will tell you if you should ask your doctor to do further testing to see if you have sucrose intolerance. There are four simple steps in the challenge:

Step 1: Stir 4 tablespoons of ordinary table sugar into a 4-ounce glass of water. Mix until sugar is completely dissolved.

Step 2: Drink the sugar water on an empty stomach.

Step 3: Assess if symptoms, such as bloating, gas and diarrhea, occur during the next 4-8 hours; this suggests sucrose intolerance is possible.

Step 4: If you have symptoms, take the Sucrose Intolerance Quiz for some suggested next steps.

You should know that the 4-4-4 Sugar Challenge is not a definitive test to determine whether you have sucrose intolerance. If you exhibit symptoms from this challenge, it does mean that you should talk to your doctor about further testing to see if you have sucrose intolerance.

There are some important warnings which should be considered before taking the 4-4-4 Sugar Challenge.

  1. A person may have relatively SEVERE SYMPTOMS. If someone does have sucrose intolerance, this challenge may cause relatively severe gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. It is advised to take the challenge on a weekend or other day when GI symptoms will not cause the person to miss work or other important events.
  2. This challenge should not be given to infants, very young children or to people with severe symptoms or people who have diabetes. Someone who is considering the challenge may need to seek guidance from their physician to make sure they are safely able to handle the challenge.

Chronic GI symptoms can be frustrating, embarrassing and painful. The 4-4-4 Sugar Challenge may prove beneficial for people who have been diagnosed with other conditions but still have unresolved symptoms, and as a result, are seeking a different diagnosis.

Don’t forget to share your results via social using #sugarchallenge!

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