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Fructose Intolerance May Cause Unexplained Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Fructose Intolerance May Cause Unexplained Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Monday, July 21st 2003

Fructose intolerance may be the cause for unexplained gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in many patients, according to the results of a retrospective study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology. The investigators advocate noninvasive breath testing before labeling these symptoms as "functional."

"Although the role of lactose intolerance in the pathogenesis of abdominal symptoms is well known, the role of fructose intolerance is unclear," write Young K. Choi, MD, from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, and colleagues. "Unlike glucose,...fructose is absorbed in the small intestine through facilitative diffusion, and its absorption capacity is limited."

During a two-year period, 183 patients (50 men and 133 women) with unexplained GI symptoms completed questionnaires and had fructose breath tests, in which patients gave breath samples for hydrogen and methane after receiving 150 mL of a 33% fructose solution.

Of 134 (73%) positive breath tests, 119 (89%) had elevated hydrogen, and 15 (11%) had elevated methane or both gases. The most common symptoms reported on questionnaires were flatus (83%), pain (80%), bloating (78%), belching (70%), and altered bowel habit (65%). The fructose solution reproduced symptoms in 101 patients (75%).

In a second study reported in the same article, breath tests were administered with varying concentrations of fructose: 14 (39%) of 36 subjects tested positive with a 10% solution, 23 (70%) of 33 with a 20% solution, and 16 (80%) of 20 with a 33% solution (P < .01 for 10% vs. 20% or 33%).

"Fructose intolerance may cause unexplained GI symptoms. The higher yield of positive tests in our initial study may be due to referral bias or testing conditions; lower test dose produced a lower yield," the authors write. "Nonetheless, recognition and treatment of fructose intolerance may help many patients.... We would recommend that patients with unexplained symptoms should be tested with a noninvasive breath test before dismissing their symptoms as either nonspecific or before making a diagnosis of functional bowel disorder, because fructose intolerance is treatable."

Sourced from Am J Gastroenterol. 2003;98:1348-1353

Laurie Barclay, MD

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following are all useful for food tolerances:

Digest Dairy
Digest Basic
Digestion Plus
Digest Gold + Probiotic
Digest Spectrum
Inner Health Plus
Natural Digestion

Related health information can be found here:

Alfamax, a rich source of Vitamins and Minerals
Cat's Claw, ideal for immune defense and digestive disorders
Ensure healthy gut function with probiotic supplementation
Flatulence and Gas
The Good Health Diet

Related articles can be found here:

Indigestion: Could be too little stomach acid
Intestinal relief from Peppermint Gels
Soothe your stomach with Slippery Elm
We Are What We Digest

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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