What is fructose?

Fructose is a sugar molecule called a monosaccharide found naturally in many fruits, honey and sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is one of the FODMAP sugars, however there are other fermentable sugars which make up the group known as FODMAPs, such as lactose and sorbitol.

What is fructose malabsorption/intolerance?

Many people find excess fructose intake contributes to uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. Common symptoms associated with eating food high in excess fructose include abdominal pain, bloating and altered bowel habits such as loose bowels or diarrhoea.

Understanding Fructans and Fructose Malabsorption

Fructans are fermentable carbohydrates called oligosaccharides (part of the ‘O’ in FODMAP) that are composed of short chains of fructose with a single attached glucose unit. Fructan intolerance may coexist with fructose malabsorption or be the underlying cause of symptoms. Fructans are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and pass on to the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria, making them prebiotic fibres. Like fructose, some people experience uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms from eating foods high in fructans.

This is why reducing fructans in addition to fructose, or following the low FODMAP diet can be helpful for those with fructose malabsorption.

Tolerance of different foods is very individual. For example some people can tolerate fructose is small amounts without experiencing symptoms. Similarly, some people tolerate onion but not garlic and vice-versa. Work with a dietitian to work out the best dietary management approach for you individually. Click here to book an appointment.

Fructose malabsorption
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