Sorbitol Malabsorption

What is Sorbitol? Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol/ polyol isomer (FODMAP) naturally found in some fruits [1]. The sweet taste of sorbitol also allows for it also to be used as a low-kilojoule sweetener and thus can often be found in products like sugar free gum [1].

What is Sorbitol Malabsorption?
Sorbitol is not well absorbed in the intestine. Research shows that consumption of 5g of sorbitol, equating to 100g of dried apricots, resulted in more than 50% of people experiencing uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea. In patients with IBS, more that 70% of people experienced these symptoms [1, 2].

How do you test if you have Sorbitol Malabsorption?

You can test if you have sorbitol malabsorption by undertaking breath hydrogen and methane test. These tests are non-invasive and have repeatedly been demonstrated as the most accurate indirect indicator of sorbitol malabsorption [1, 2]. Want to know more about breath testing? Visit the Stream Diagnostics website.

I have Sorbitol Malabsorption what now?

Sorbitol is found largely in stone fruits and diet products. Once diagnosed with sorbitol malabsorption it is recommended that you reduce your consumption of high sorbitol foods. To learn more about which foods are high in sorbitol or polyols download the FODMAP Friendly App.

When cutting particular foods out of your diet you are at risk of nutritional deficiency. To ensure that your diet is nutritionally adequate and to effectively implement a low sorbitol diet, consult your Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD).


[1] Yao CK, Tan HL, van Langenberg DR, Barett JS, Rose R, Liels K, et al. Dietary sorbitol and mannitol: food content and distinct absorption patterns between healthy individuals and patients with irritable bowel syndrome. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2014 Apr; 27(2): 263-75.

[2] Corazza GR, Strocchi A, Rossi R, Sirola D, Gasbarrini G. Sorbitol malabsorption in normal volunteers and in patients with coeliac disease. Gut 1988; 29: 44-48

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