Apples are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, full of fiber to improve your digestive health and antioxidants that can lower your risk of heart disease. But all those benefits don't do you any good if your stomach aches after you eat the fruit. The most likely cause of your stomach pain is an allergy or fructose malabsorption disorder. If the former is true, you'll have to give up the fruit; if it's the latter, you may still be able to eat small amounts. Before you make changes to your diet, speak to your doctor about your stomach pains.
Although a wide variety of fruits can cause reactions in people, apples are among the most common culprits, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln website. Apples may contain several different allergens from varying classes of food allergens, so symptoms will vary from individual to individual. Oral symptoms including itchy and swollen lips, mouth and throat are most common, but stomach pain is also a common symptom. Allergy symptoms tend to appear quite quickly after the food is ingested, within minutes or an hour or two, according to the NHS Choices website.
What to Do About It
Your doctor can determine whether you have an allergy to apples. If your stomach pain is due to an allergy, you may have to stop eating apples. A food allergy is an immune system reaction to a normally harmless substance that has been identified as a threat. In addition to stomach pain, food allergies can cause other symptoms that can be severe and even life-threatening, such as trouble swallowing and obstruction of air passages. According to the NHS Choices website, symptoms may be less or more severe on different occasions; although you only experienced a mild bout of stomach pain after eating an apple last month, your next attack could be more severe. Occasionally, people who are allergic to raw apples can eat cooked apples because heat destroys the allergens.
Fructose is a sugar found naturally in fruits and other foods. It's also widely used in food processing to add sweetness. Some people experience stomach pain after consuming too much of this substance in whole and processed foods because their body is unable to absorb it. According to registered nutritional consultant Pamela Durkin on the Alive website, fructose malabsorption is quite common, affecting an estimated 30 percent of people in the Western world. Its cause is unknown, but several factors may contribute, including bacterial problems in your gut, inflammation and stress.
Fructose malabsorption is not life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable and even cause depression in some people. Therefore, it's important to get a diagnoses from your doctor, Durkin says. Having a fructose malabsorption disorder does not mean you have to cut out apples from your diet or all fructose-containing foods. You may be able to eat a few apple slices at a time, or you may find that even a little bit causes problems. You may also be able to eat apples along with another food high in glucose because glucose aids in the absorption of fructose, reports Durkin. That's why certain foods that contain more glucose, such as strawberries, are less likely to cause problems.