Fructose Limited Diet


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DESCRIPTION: Fructose is a carbohydrate, or sugar, that is found in fruits and

vegetables. It typically doesn’t cause any problems except when it is taken in high

quantities. Our intestine has a fructose transport mechanism that takes the

fructose from the inside of the intestine into our blood stream. If too much

fructose is taken in, it overloads this transport system and the fructose is not

absorbed in the small bowel and is taken into the colon. The colonic bacteria then

utilize the fructose and the products of the bacterial metabolism of the sugar is

gas, primarily hydrogen gas, and fatty acids. The gas distends the colon which can

cause nausea, bloating and abdominal pain. The fatty acid causes water to be drawn

into the colon which then causes diarrhea.

To minimize the effects of fructose in people who are fructose intolerant, it is

best to limit the fructose ingestion since there are no medications that can

enhance fructose absorption in the small intestine. It is not necessary to eliminate

fruits and vegetables from your diet but what can be helpful is to eliminate high

fructose containing foods. The main foods that have high levels of fructose in them

are beverages, specifically regular soda, fruit juices and sports drinks (Gatorade,

Allsport, etc.). Other beverages that have on their label high fructose containing

corn syrup may be problematic also and an example of this is the flavored ice teas.

Diet sodas and drinks do not have fructose in them. Taking in excess fructose will

not damage your intestines in any way, but it can give you uncomfortable symptoms.

Judy Davis, MD, FAAP

Fellow American Academy of Pediatrics

Fellow Sub-Board American Academy of Pediatric Gastroenterology

American Board of Nutrition

Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of California,

San Francisco

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