Fructose malabsorption is a condition characterized by the poor absorption of fructose and other short-chain fermentable carbohydrates such as lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols. If you do not absorb fructose and these sugars properly, they are fermented by the bacteria in your intestines, attract water and produce gas. The resulting symptoms are bloating, pain, flatulence, diarrhea and constipation. The only treatment for fructose malabsorption is to follow a fructose-restricted diet and to eliminate other fermentable sugar according to your personal tolerance.
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Fortified wine, such as sherry and port, as well as sweet wines, have a higher fructose content and should be avoided if you suffer from fructose malabsorption. However, dry wines are usually well tolerated and may be consumed in small amounts. To prevent any problems, avoid taking too many glasses at once and have your wine with a source of protein at your meal.
Beer does not contain fructose, because all the sugar it contained has already been fermented by the yeast added to it. Most people with fructose malabsorption need to avoid wheat and rye because these grains are a big source of fructans. Fructans are a chain of fructose that, if poorly absorbed, lead to the same symptoms seen in fructose malabsorption. Although beer can be made from these grains, it is free of fructans and should not cause a problem. However, beer contains gluten and if you have celiac disease, a condition describing an allergy to gluten, in addition to being a fructose malabsorber, you should avoid regular beer and turn to a gluten-free brew.
Hard liquors are free of fructose or any sugar that can be problematic for people diagnosed with fructose malabsorption. If your liquor is sweetened, check the ingredients list. Sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup, honey, agave syrup and sugar-alcohols are problematic and should be avoided. You should also avoid mixing your hard liquor with soft drinks or large quantities of juices that could increase your fructose load and lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Determining Your Tolerance
People with fructose malabsorption have a varying degree of sensitivity to fermentable sugars and other foods and it is important that you determine your own tolerance to alcohol. Alcohol can be irritating for your intestines and can cause problems if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). An elimination challenge diet is the best way to evaluate how certain foods make you feel. With such a diet, you need to eliminate all potentially offending foods for at least four to six weeks and then reintroduce some of these foods or beverages, like alcohol, one by one, to see how your body reacts. Meet with a registered dietitian for help establishing your safe food list with fructose malabsorption.
- MedlinePlus: Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
- HealthyHype.com: Low-FODMAP Diet – Foods to Avoid in IBS and Bloating
- "Journal of the American Dietetic Association"; Fructose Malabsorption and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Guidelines for Effective Dietary Management; Susan J. Shepherd and Peter R. Gibson; 2006