Approximately one-third of the US population has difficulty digesting fructose. Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar found in honey, vegetables, fruits and grains. It is also commonly found in many processed foods, like soft drinks and packaged sweets. Fructose malabsorption is a digestive disorder in which proper absorption of fructose does not take place in the small intestine. The result can be uncomfortable and painful symptoms. Fructose malabsorption is sometimes mistaken for other sugar intolerances, like sucrose and lactose, and gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome. Here are five facts that you should know about fructose and fructose malabsorption.
- Common symptoms of fructose malabsorption are gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, stomach pain, brain fog, mood changes, nausea and/or vomiting.
- Fructose malabsorption is on the rise as our modern food system is filled with highly refined sugars.
- The estimated average amount of fructose consumed in the U.S. population is 49 grams per day per person. The max recommended daily intake is 25 grams.
- Adolescent males have the highest estimated average fructose intake at 75 grams per day. The majority of this fructose is consumed in the form of sucrose and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), which contain equal amounts of fructose and glucose.
- For those who do suffer from fructose malabsorption or intolerance, the American Gastroenterological Association suggests limiting fruits, honey and alcohol. Another approach is to eliminate all fructose containing foods, then add these back into the diet gradually as tolerated.