The Halloween Hangover: Fructose and Your Digestive System
Here is an article on fructose that I am going to forward to a number of friends who have digestive problems that they can’t seem to get rid of. From The Sugar Fix: The High-Fructose Fallout That is Making You Fat and Sick, by Richard J. Johnson, MD, the book is a fascinating read. Here is the excerpt on the Halloween Hangover. See if it sounds familiar:
Call it the Halloween Hangover: Filling up on sweets often leads to an upset stomach. This is because many people have difficulty digesting the fructose in sugar, HFCS, and other sweeteners. But it’s not only candy-munching trick-or-treaters who are affected by this problem, known as fructose malabsorption (or sometimes dietary fructose intolerance.) If you have been experiencing unexplained digestive problems, fructose could be the cause.
As fructose travels through the digestive system, it eventually enters the small intestine. From there, it normally is absorbed into the bloodstream. But some people absorb fructose less efficiently than others so. In these cases, fructose enters into the large intestine, where it is broken down by bacteria, producing large amounts of hydrogen gas. Fructose can also suck water into the colon.
Fructose malabsorption causes a variety of gastronintestinal problems, including abdominal pain, bloating, cramps, flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation. Bacteria can convert fructose to compounds called ketoacids; in rare cases, this could cause the blood to become dangerously acidic, a condition that can lead to rapid breathing, confusion, and other symptoms. In one small 2005 study published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers asked 15 volunteers to drink water laced with 25 grams of fructose, which is similar to the amount found in a 12-ounce can of non-diet soda. Breath tests that measure hydrogen determined that more than half of the subjects had evidence of fructose malabsorption. Six of the volunteers developed gas or rumbling sounds in their stomachs, and one experienced abdominal pain. When the dose was increased by 50 grams of fructose, breath tests showed that 11 of the 15 volunteers had reached the threshold for fructose malabsorption.
Recent research suggests that fructose may be one cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that affects up to one in five Americans. Previously, the foods and beverages most commonly linked to IBS were wheat and other grains, chocolate, and dairy products, as well as alcohol. Now studies suggest that many people who complain of IBS symptoms have fructose malabsorption. In a University of Iowa study, for example, more than one-third of people with IBS-like symptoms had dietary fructose intolerance.
If you struggle with gastrointestinal problems, adopting a low-fructose diet may help. A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 74 percent of IBS patients who cut back on their fructose consumption experienced a significant drop in gastrointestinal symptoms.