Fruit is nature's sweet treat that's both nutritious and delicious. But if you get stomach pain when you eat it, that's not so sweet. So why do you feel sick after eating fruit?
We've all heard that we should eat more servings of fruits and veggies. That's because a diet rich in assorted plants can help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
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On the flip side, it's also possible to experience unpleasant side effects like stomach pain after eating fruit (along with other digestive symptoms). To help you get to the bottom of your aches, here are the potential reasons why fruit makes your stomach hurt.
1. You Can't Digest Fructose
One reason why you might get a stomach ache after eating fruit is because your body has trouble digesting fructose.
Fructose is one of the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits, fruit juices, some vegetables and honey, per the Mayo Clinic. When your digestive system doesn't absorb fructose properly, it can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea and gas.
There are a couple types of fructose-related digestive issues you could have. First: Fructose malabsorption, a condition where the cells of the small intestine can't properly absorb the sugar, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
It leads to symptoms like:
- Stomach pain
Or you may have hereditary fructose intolerance, a genetic condition where you lack an enzyme that breaks down the sugar, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Hereditary fructose intolerance shows up during infancy and can lead to serious complications like liver and kidney damage due to the buildup of undigested fructose. It also causes symptoms like:
- Stomach pain
- Low blood sugar
- In extreme cases, seizures or coma
Fix it: Talk to your doctor if you regularly experience side effects after eating fruit to find out if you have fructose intolerance or malabsorption.
People with hereditary fructose intolerance should completely avoid foods or drinks that contain the sugar, per the Cleveland Clinic. If you have malabsorption, eating lower-fructose foods and limiting your fructose intake can help curb stomach cramps after eating fruit.
Most fruit — including dried and canned fruit — is high in fructose. But there are some lower-fructose options to try if fruit hurts your stomach regularly, per the Cleveland Clinic:
- Lemons and limes
2. You're Eating Too Much Fiber
Fiber plays a major role in our bowel health. People often turn to it for constipation relief, but the nutrient can also help lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease, in addition to helping you maintain the right weight for you, per the Mayo Clinic.
Fruit is one major source of the nutrient, although some fruits contain more fiber than others, according to the Mayo Clinic and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. High-fiber options include:
- Apples with skin
But while the nutrient is an essential part of a balanced diet, eating too much fiber too quickly — which can happen if you eat a lot of high-fiber fruit — can lead to distressing symptoms like intestinal gas, stomach bloating and cramping, per the Mayo Clinic.
Fix it: One possible remedy for preventing stomach pain after eating mangoes and other high-fiber fruits is to gradually increase your fiber intake over the course of a few weeks.
Easing into eating more fiber helps your digestive system better adjust to the nutrient, per the Mayo Clinic. And be sure to hydrate, as drinking plenty of water can also help minimize stomach pain and other side effects.
How Much Fiber Should You Eat Every Day?
3. You Have a Food Intolerance
Another reason why you may feel sick after eating fruit is that you have a food intolerance.
Signs of a food intolerance include:
- Headaches or migraines
- Upset stomach
In some cases, a particular food — or in this case, fruit — isn't to blame. You may instead have an intolerance to sugars in the fruit, like fructose.
Fix it: Your doctor can help you determine if you have a specific food intolerance or sensitivity. Typically, you can manage symptoms like stomach pain after eating fruit by reducing or eliminating the trigger food from your diet, per the Cleveland Clinic.
4. You Have a Food Allergy
Though uncommon, another possible reason why you feel sick after eating fruit is that you have an allergy. Per the Mayo Clinic, allergic reactions to food can cause the following symptoms:
- Itchy or tingly mouth
- Hives, itching or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat or other body parts
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
It's important to note that a food allergy isn't the same thing as a food intolerance or sensitivity. Food intolerances tend to result in digestive troubles, while allergic reactions often have more respiratory or skin-related symptoms.
Fix it: Tell your doctor if you experience an allergic reaction eating fruit. If a specific fruit is a trigger, avoiding it altogether can help prevent symptoms, per the Mayo Clinic.
People with a food allergy can have an extreme allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, where your throat swells up and restricts your breathing, per the Mayo Clinic. Seek medical care immediately if this happens to you.
5. You Have Acid Reflux
If you have an underlying condition like acid reflux — when acid in your stomach persistently leaks back into your esophagus — certain fruits and other foods can lead to aggravating symptoms, per the Cleveland Clinic.
People with chronic acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can experience the following symptoms, especially after eating acidic, spicy or fried foods:
- Feeling of food caught in your throat
- Chest pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Sore throat and hoarseness
And a common sensation that comes with heartburn is — you guessed it — stomach pain, per the Mayo Clinic, which may be to blame for your fruit-related upset stomach.
Fix it: Speak with your doctor if you experience reflux symptoms or need help better managing the condition. Your doctor may prescribe acid-reducing medications, and avoiding triggering foods can also help with symptoms, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Fruits to Avoid With GERD
Fruits that worsen acid reflux vary from person to person, but acidic fruits tend to trigger symptoms. Here are some fruits to avoid with GERD, per the Cleveland Clinic:
- Tomatoes and tomato-based foods
- Mayo Clinic: "Chart of High-Fiber Foods"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Vegetables and Fruits"
- Mayo Clinic: "Fructose intolerance: Which foods to avoid?"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Hereditary fructose intolerance"
- Cleveland Clinic: "What Is Fructose Intolerance?"
- FDACS: "Mango"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Food Intolerance"
- Mayo Clinic: "Food allergy"
- Cleveland Clinic: "GERD (Chronic Acid Reflux)"
- Mayo Clinic: "Indigestion"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.