Do you feel tired and weak regardless of eating substantial amounts of nutritious and healthy meals? Do you feel bloated and uncomfortable after enjoying some of your favorite fruits or vegetables? If so, you may be suffering from fructose intolerance, and it may be time to get tested. At Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center in Rego Park, New York, we have helped many patients identify the sources of their digestive discomforts with fructose intolerance testing.
What Is Fructose Intolerance?
Fructose intolerance, also known as fructose malabsorption, is a disorder that impedes the body’s natural fructose digestion process. Fructose is a sugar found in fresh fruit, honey, high fructose corn syrup, and other foods. When the body has an intolerance to fructose, it is unable to metabolize this sugar for use as energy. As a result, the overall health and wellness of an individual can be severely compromised.
If you suffer from an intolerance to fructose, your body’s digestion of nutrients is significantly impacted. Nutrients are normally absorbed in the small intestine. However, instead of absorbing the fructose in the small intestine and converting it to energy, a body that is intolerant to fructose will allow the undigested fructose to pass to the colon.
The natural bacteria found in the colon then break down the fructose, producing gas as a byproduct. The nutrients and energy that should be derived from the fructose are simply broken down as waste and secreted.
Am I Intolerant to Fructose?
There are multiple symptoms that present themselves when an individual is intolerant to fructose. These symptoms include bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea, gas, chronic fatigue, and iron deficiency. If you or someone you love is suffering from these symptoms, it may indicate an intolerance to fructose. The only way to accurately know, however, is to get medical testing.
5 Signs You Might Need Testing
Bloating occurs when the body isn’t properly digesting food. Digestion normally starts in the mouth and ends in the small intestine. Once the food is ingested at the mouth, it begins to move through the digestive tract, mixes with digestive juices, and is broken down into smaller molecules. The body absorbs the smaller molecules of food through the walls of the small intestine and into the bloodstream.
When an individual suffers from malabsorption of fructose, however, their body cannot break down fructose molecules. Instead of absorbing the fructose and using it for energy, it is passed on to the colon as undigested waste molecules. Bacteria begin to attack the undigested fructose molecules, releasing gas that causes bloating and swelling. As a result, many people who suffer from fructose intolerance experience bloating, abdominal discomfort, and gas.
2. Stomach Cramps
Stomach cramps are another symptom of fructose intolerance. Because the body has trouble breaking down fructose molecules, fructose will pass through the gastrointestinal tract minimally digested or completely undigested.
This passage of whole or minimally-digested fructose molecules through the body can cause discomfort and pain. The bloating and swelling that results from fructose malabsorption can also lead to stomach cramps and aches.
3. Diarrhea and Gas
Diarrhea is another common sign of intolerance to fructose. Due to undigested food particles, excessive waste in the form of diarrhea can occur. Unabsorbed fructose molecules can also make other contents in the intestines take on a liquified form, also resulting in frequent watery bowel movements.
Due to fermentation in the colon that occurs when the body’s natural bacteria attack the undigested fructose molecules, various gases such as hydrogen are produced. This causes gastrointestinal side effects including excess gas.
4. Chronic Fatigue
Because the nutrients in foods containing fructose are not being converted into energy, this results in constant fatigue and weakness for an individual with an intolerance to fructose. As part of the normal digestion process, the food we eat is absorbed and broken down into energy. With intolerance to fructose, however, foods containing high amounts of fructose cannot be broken down by the body to be used for energy. The fructose molecules pass through the digestive tract unabsorbed.
Individuals with an undetected intolerance to fructose may thus find themselves frustratingly trying to figure out why they often feel weak and tired. Despite eating substantial, nutritious meals, those who suffer from an intolerance to fructose may constantly feel slow, sluggish, and as if they haven’t eaten enough.
5. Iron Deficiency
The proper absorption of nutrients is key to replenishing the iron stores in the body. With an unknown intolerance to fructose, a great amount of ingested nutrients may be composed of fructose molecules. These nutrients thus go unabsorbed, leading to possible malabsorption of iron.
Malabsorption of iron ultimately leads to iron deficiency. One of the most common signs in patients with a lack of iron is unusual tiredness. The body uses iron to produce hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen to tissues and muscles. Without oxygen, tissues and muscles are deprived of energy, resulting in bodily fatigue.
Other signs of iron deficiency include weakness, headaches, cold hands, and cold feet. Additionally, patients who suffer from iron deficiency may experience brittle nails, dizziness, or lightheadedness. If left unaddressed, iron deficiency can eventually lead to anemia.
Why Get Medical Testing?
The effects of fructose intolerance are not only displeasing and uncomfortable, but they can also trigger other significant health complications. If left untreated, the body’s malabsorption of fructose can lead to bigger problems that may require treatment with more intensive procedures. It’s important to get tested sooner rather than later if you or someone you know shows symptoms of an intolerance to fructose. If you wait, the problem could get even worse.
Intolerance to fructose is also known to mimic other food intolerances, so finding out whether your discomfort is from fructose or from another food will require a medical test. Many patients also attempt to self-diagnose by matching their symptoms with what they read in medical articles and journals. These articles, however, are simply meant to help you decide whether or not you need a medical test. Articles do not diagnose. Medical tests do.
How Do Tests Work?
The main type of medical test for detecting intolerance to fructose is known as the Fructose Malabsorption Breath Test. This is a simple test that we conduct in our medical offices. The test requires no blood work and the results are revealed the following day.
As part of the test, you will be asked to drink a liquid that contains high fructose levels. After you have finished the liquid, the levels of hydrogen in the breath will be measured.
If you recall, the fermentation process of undigested fructose molecules releases hydrogen gas. We use this as a way to test whether or not your body properly digested the fructose in the liquid. If high levels of hydrogen are detected in your breath, this means that you most likely have an intolerance to fructose.
Should I Do an Elimination Diet Beforehand?
Some patients prefer to start with a fructose elimination diet before deciding to do a breath test. While this is a great way to reduce digestive discomfort and become more mindful of your eating habits, we recommend doing this in conjunction with our medical staff. If done without the help of a member of our medical staff, the results of a fructose elimination diet could be misleading and inaccurate.
Our medical staff can help you properly identify which food contains fructose so you can know which foods to avoid if you choose to do an elimination diet beforehand. However, because many foods contain multiple ingredients, you may inadvertently eliminate another ingredient while eliminating fructose.
This can lead to confusion about whether your discomfort comes from fructose or from another source. We recommend performing the Fructose Malabsorption Breath Test if an elimination diet does not yield clear results.
If you discover that you have an intolerance to fructose, there are various treatments and lifestyle changes that can help eliminate digestive discomfort and other medical complications. A low fructose diet is usually the main treatment for patients who suffer from an intolerance to fructose. Some patients also choose to follow a low FODMAP diet.
Low Fructose Diet
A low fructose diet is a diet that consists of foods with no fructose or significantly low amounts of fructose. This diet also limits foods with significant amounts of a form of fructose known as fructans. Some examples of high fructose and high fructan foods that are limited include fruit, honey, juices, wheat, and certain vegetables.
After discussing your test results, we will help you establish a suitable and enjoyable diet consisting of foods that are low in fructose and fructans. We help our patients to establish a beneficial diet that isn’t overly restrictive. It’s also good to know that the low fructose diet usually only lasts for four to six weeks depending on the severity of your intolerance. You will then slowly begin to reintroduce foods with fructose to determine how much your body can tolerate.
Low FODMAP Diet
Though a low FODMAP diet is similar to a low fructose diet, it’s slightly more restrictive. FODMAP stands for “fermentable, oligo-di and monosaccharides and polyols”. A diet that is low in FODMAP classified foods limits lactose found in cow, sheep, and goat milk, fructose found in fruits, honey, and juices, fructans found in wheat and certain vegetables, galactans found in beans and lentils, and polyols, which are also known as sugar alcohols.
The low FODMAP diet is highly effective in effecting a change in the body’s digestive process, however, it may be more restrictive than needed for a patient who only has an intolerance to fructose. After receiving the results of your test, we can help you decide if a low FODMAP diet will be suitable for you.
Schedule an Appointment Today
Bloating, fatigue, abdominal pain, and iron deficiency are all common symptoms of fructose intolerance. If you or someone you know is suffering from digestive discomforts such as these, we highly recommend that you schedule an appointment with us at Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center in Rego Park, New York. With a quick, in-office test we can help you identify whether an intolerance to fructose is the cause of your discomfort.
After receiving your results, our medical staff will be with you every step of the way as you adjust to your new diet and begin to feel better. Our specialists will help you identify what foods you should avoid in order to feel and function at your best.
If you are experiencing symptoms of fructose intolerance, don’t wait until things get worse. Contact Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center in Rego Park, New York today to schedule a fructose intolerance test so you can get back to feeling like yourself again.