In the last three decades, sugar consumption has increased by over 30 percent in the United States. For people with sugar intolerance, this widespread use of sugar means many of these foods should be avoided because of the sugar content.
What specifically is sugar intolerance?
Sugar intolerance is a person’s inability to digest sucrose – table sugar – due to a deficiency in the enzyme called sucrase located in the small intestine. Sucrase is needed to break down sucrose into the simple sugars fructose and glucose used to fuel the body. Individuals with sugar intolerance usually display symptoms of gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms can range from mild (increased gas) to severe (extreme diarrhea leading to malnutrition).
How do people manage sugar intolerance?
Sugar intolerance is managed through dietary modification. The first step is to eliminate all processed foods and those with added sugar. But managing sugar intolerance can be tricky because many foods thought to be “healthy,” like specific fruits and vegetables that are high in sucrose, may not be healthy for a sugar-intolerant person. Pharmaceutical therapy is also available to help manage symptoms. If you think you have sugar intolerance, it is important to see a gastroenterologist to get a proper diagnosis.