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Fructose malabsorption syndrome

Alterations in the absorption of fructose are a common problem that, with proper dietary treatment, can be kept at bay. We present some guidelines on how to achieve it.

Malabsorption or fructose intolerance?

Fructose, a carbohydrate rapidly absorbed consisting of a single molecule, is not necessary to digest, is present in our daily diet. For example, through fruits and honey, in their free form and, together with glucose, they form sucrose, which is the name for common sugar. So all sugary products also contain fructose once it is separated from glucose and free.

Both fructose malabsorption syndrome and hereditary fructose intolerance (fructose mix) are related to the same nutrient, yet they are two different processes.

Both in the mechanism by which the process fails (one is digestive, and the other is metabolic) and the symptoms, tolerance thresholds, or the severity of the ailment. For this reason, it is advisable to be very clear about both processes and not confuse them.

In this article, we will focus on explaining what it is, what symptoms it produces, and how to fix fructose malabsorption.

What is fructose malabsorption syndrome?

The fructose malabsorption syndrome is caused by the lack of enough receptors in the intestinal mucosa to transport this sugar and cross the interior wall. In this case, the excess fructose that is not absorbed continues to move through the intestinal lumen and into the colon. There it reacts with the intestinal probiotic, resulting in gas that causes flatulence, pain and bloating, diarrhea, malaise, and so on.

If this situation is prolonged in time or is very acute, it can cause deficiencies in other nutrients that are entrained in the intestine and cause growth retardation in children. So, consult the best doctor for such treatment.

The percentage of the population that suffers from this process is highly variable since there may be very mild cases with hardly any symptoms and undiagnosed, compared to more severe ones in terms of greater restriction in the amount of fructose taken. The degree of tolerance is always individual and depends on the number of intestinal receptors that are possessed.

Differences between fructose malabsorption and fructose intolerance

 Fructose malabsorption syndrome is a digestive disorder in which there are difficulties in the absorption of fructose from the intestine into the body.

In this situation, part of the fructose consumed by the person remains in the digestive tract and progresses through it towards the end, dragging other nutrients in its path.

On the other hand, hereditary intolerance to fructose or fructosemia constitutes one of the so-called innate errors of metabolism related to carbohydrates.

It is precisely in the metabolism of fructose where the lack of an enzyme occurs. By not continuing the metabolic route, intermediate products accumulate that can become toxic to the body.

Foods that contain free fructose in their composition and, therefore, have the greatest implication in the development of malabsorption are fruits, honey, quince paste, and alcohol.

Some elements in the diet can improve or worsen fructose uptake by intestinal receptors involved in fructose tolerance. For example, if glucose is also present in the diet, the number of molecules that can transport glucose and fructose increases.

This results in increased absorption and, therefore, increases tolerance towards fructose. For example, one way to take fructose and glucose together is in the form of sucrose. Thus, the fructose content of the diet without causing symptoms may be higher.

On the other hand, another element such as sorbitol, widely used as an additive in many so-called "sugar-free" products, uses the same receptors as fructose. Both molecules have to compete for them. In this way, in the presence of sorbitol, the absorption of fructose is reduced. Therefore, it is also desirable to monitor sorbitol in the event of fructose malabsorption.

Sorbitol-containing foods are mainly "sugar-free" products special for diabetics, sweets, gum, and drugs that contain it as an additive. In these cases, the vigilance of the tagged is essential. For you to notice, sorbitol on labels appears as (E-420).

For all this, the amount of fructose must be individually controlled so that it does not exceed tolerance and symptoms do not occur, but neither should this sugar be eliminated without justification and do not take fruits or vegetables with the consequent deficit of vitamin C, folic acid, dietary fiber, etcetera.

We offer you a table of fructose content of the main fruits and vegetables and other elements that contain this sugar. Whenever this ailment is suspected, it would be advisable to be rigorously diagnosed and contact a nutrition professional.

This table is only indicative of eliminating, in the first place, high-content foods during a period where the symptoms are eradicated and introducing them little by little and in very limited quantities. The dietitian-nutritionist is the right person to direct the process of normalizing the diet so that there are no negative repercussions at the digestive level or on the nutritional status.

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