The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, a grower and packer association, reports that blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber and manganese, a mineral that plays an important role in the development of bones. Blueberries are also packed with antioxidants that help fight DNA-damaging molecules — called free radicals — associated with aging. If eating blueberries results in abdominal pain or discomfort, you may want to consider a digestive disease as the possible culprit.
People who are fructose intolerant lack an enzyme necessary for breaking down fructose, a sugar, which occurs naturally in fruit. Fructose intolerance is a genetic condition that can lead to liver and kidney damage, according to MayoClinic.com. While berries have a good fructose-to-glucose ratio that makes them intestine friendly, some people with fructose intolerance cannot tolerate even small amounts of the sugar, according to Dr. William Sears, an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine.
Fructose malabsorption is similar to fructose intolerance but much more common and not as severe. Malabsorption occurs when your body can’t break down fructose during digestion. The American Gastroenterological Association, or AGS, explains that when the fructose reaches your intestines, a reaction with naturally occurring bacteria will generate gases that can cause bloating, pain, heartburn and other symptoms. If you do have problems absorbing fructose, it’s likely you will also experience symptoms after eating fruit with a high fructose-to-glucose ratio like prunes, pears, sweat cherries, peaches and apples.
According to the AGS, people often confuse food allergies and intolerance or malabsorption. An allergic reaction will occur within a few minutes to an hour after eating the food that causes your stomach pain. Symptoms of a food allergy include an itchy sensation in your mouth, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Depending on the severity of your allergy, you could experience a drop in blood pressure, asthma, hives or eczema.
The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse reports that an estimated 60 to 70 million Americans have a digestive disease. According to a review published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology in 2004 by Suzanne M. Skoog, M.D., it is theorized that fructose can trigger or worsen symptoms in patients with a gastrointestinal disorder. Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and diverticulosis are conditions that cause inflammation and pain in the abdomen.
Treating Abdominal Pain
Authoritative sources like the AGS and MayoClinic.com agree that if you’re allergic to blueberries or have a fructose intolerance, your best bet is to avoid blueberries altogether. If your problem is a digestive condition, you may be able to avoid eating blueberries during a flare-up. However, because of the high-fiber content in blueberries, according to the Highbush Blueberry Council, eating them increases your risk for developing diarrhea or gas if you already have gastritis, colitis or another digestive disease.