Sugars make up the simplest form of carbohydrates. There is a classification of these carbs called FODMAPs which have been proven to cause gastrointestinal discomfort because they are poorly broken down and fermented in the small intestine. These FODMAPs are found in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, candy, table sugar, sugar alcohols and food additives.
Learn more about FODMAPs here.
Sugar intolerances can cause different symptoms, depending on the particular type of sugar. Gas-producing bacteria in the GI tract love sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup. If you’re not careful enough, you might be ingesting high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by way of sodas, candies, breads, cakes, dairy, crackers, cough syrups, relish, bakes beans, ice cream, jams, jellies, syrups, salad dressings, sauces and more. HFCS is a FODMAP and one of many sugars to cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
Candida is a yeast specie that also loves to chow down on sugar, and too much can lead to dysbiosis, which is a bacterial imbalance and a major cause of bloating. Dysbiosis has been associated with illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, cancer and colitis. According to an article in the Huffington Post by Corrie Pikul, quoting Robynne Chutkan MD, a Maryland-based gastroenterologist and the author of Gutbliss: A 10-Day Plan to Ban Bloat, Flush Toxins, and Dump Your Digestive Baggage, “the amount (of sugar) that most of us can comfortably process in a day is only about 50 grams (a 12-ounce can of cola has 33 grams; a drinkable low-fat yogurt could have 22 grams). Chutkan says that about one-third of the population has something called fructose malabsorption, which means that an excess of about 25 grams of sugar is fermented by colonic bacteria — and results in lots of stinky gas.”
Those with fructose malabsorption can benefit from an elimination diet like the low-FODMAP diet because the diet eliminates fructose as well as other sugars in addition to fructose. If you have fructose malabsorption it means you have trouble completely absorbing fructose in your small intestine, and the undigested fructose is then carried to the colon where normal bacteria rapidly devour it. The bacteria then produce gases which cause the intestine to swell. The most common symptoms are distention, bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea and some people may also experience fatigue, headaches, brain fog, and mood changes. The undigested particles of fructose may also be the cause for diarrhea.
To learn more about Fructose Malabsorption, download my free and informative Infographic on this page!
If you have diarrhea, read food labels so that you can avoid sorbitol which is a Polyol and FODMAP. This artificial sweetener causes digestive problems and is also a hard-to-digest sugar found naturally in some fruits, including prunes, apples, and peaches, and its also used to sweeten gum and diet foods. Once sorbitol reaches the large intestine, it often creates gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Other sugar alcohols and FODMAPs that can be hard to digest are mannitol, maltitol, xylitol and isomalt.
When people with lactose intolerance ingest the sugar lactose found in milk and other dairy products, it isn’t digested properly and causes symptoms of gas and bloating. Consuming too much lactose (a FODMAP), sends it into the large intestine, where diarrhea can develop or worsen. Lactose intolerance is also called lactose malabsorption, and its where a person has a deficiency of lactase — an enzyme produced in your small intestine. Symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, bloating and gas can occur within 30 minutes to two hours after ingesting lactose.
Having digestive problems and love chocolate? It’s time to be more selective with your beloved chocolate treats. Chocolate can cause different types of digestive issues, including heartburn and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Know What Sugar is Called
Common names for sugar include brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, galactose, glucose, honey, hydrogenated starch, invert sugar maltose, lactose, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, polyols, raw sugar, sorghum, sucrose, sorbitol, turbinado sugar, and xylitol.
- Do you always get dessert when out to dinner or always have it at home at night? Start out by only having dessert on odd days of the week, then make it down to once a week, and cut down more if you can. Opt to slowly sip some decaf tea.
- Skip energy bars and drinks. Buy water with electrolytes, and eat natural foods with natural energy boosters.
- Opt for low-sugar breakfast cereals and oatmeals.
- If you get a craving, get up and grab a glass of water, then go for a walk or complete a task!
- Don’t keep any ice cream, cookies or other desserts at home. Someone offering you birthday cake leftovers to take home? Kindly refuse the offer.
- You don’t need extra sugar. Read food labels for hidden sugars in cough syrups, dressings, spreads, peanut butter, breakfast cereals, soda, chewing gum, mints, tomato sauce, ketchup, baked beans, and lunch meats.
- Don’t deprive yourself – if you really need to feed your sugar fix, have half of what you would normally and stick to it. Buy smaller squares of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Have some delicious low-FODMAP fruits.
- You may know Mark Hyman, MD. These are some of his very helpful tips for balancing your blood sugar: Research studies say that low blood sugar levels are associated with LOWER overall blood flow to the brain, which means more BAD decisions. To keep your blood sugar stable:
- Eat a nutritious breakfast with some protein like eggs, protein shakes, or nut butters. Studies repeatedly show that eating a healthy breakfast helps people maintain weight loss.
- Also, have smaller meals throughout the day. Eat every 3-4 hours and have some protein with each snack or meal (lean animal protein, nuts, seeds, beans).
- Avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime.
Choosing Chocolate per Monash University
- Dark chocolate (low-fodmap) 1 serving = 5 squares or 30 g
- Milk chocolate (moderate fodmap) 1 serving = 5 squares or 30 g – Lactose is the fodmap
- White chocolate (moderate fodmap) 1 serving = 5 squares or 30 g – Lactose is the fodmap
- Avoid large servings of chocolate. Chocolate is high in fat, and when consumed in excess can affect gut motility and may trigger symptoms.
- Avoid carob chocolate. Carob powder is high in oligos (fructans), and much higher than cocoa powder (as reported by Monash University).
Make an appointment with your doctor if you frequently have any of the symptoms listed above and ask to be tested for lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance, sorbitol intolerance, celiac disease and also ask for your doctor to rule out small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Then contact me so we can work on an approach together to help you with your diet and lifestyle!
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