Fructose Malabsorption - FAQs

Definition, Prevalence, Symptoms, Testing and Treatment

Fructose Malabsorption - Different from Fructose Intolerance (HFI)

Be aware that there are two types of Fructose Sensitivity:

  • The first: Fructose Malabsorption is quite common - around 33% of all people are affected
  • Also Hereditary Fructose Intolerance (HFI) ~1 in 10,000 - can be serious if left undiagnosed
  • Both lead to malabsorption illnesses - and both are easily treated with a LOW TOXIN Diet
  • Previously popular, Fructose Breath Testing has now been abandoned by doctors due to its unreliability


Video Types of Testing


How common is Fructose Malabsorption?

Prevalence of Fructose Malabsorption

Fructose Malabsorption is very common. Up to one in three people or 33% has some level of sugar malabsorption - most commonly to Fructose. However around half of these people may show no symptoms at all until later in life. Fructose is found in some fruits and vegetables, and thousands of processed foods like soft drinks and confectionery.

Comments: Most malabsorption relates to sugars like lactose, fructose and sorbitol - and is poorly diagnosed. However - it can be responsible for unexplained symptoms like bloated stomach, diarrhea, flatulence and intestinal distress. These sugars are used extensively in manufactured foods due to their low cost and high sweetening power.

Learn more with the Free ebook about Food Toxins


What is the difference between Fructose Malabsorption and Intolerance?

Definition of Fructose Malabsorption

Hereditary Fructose Intolerance (HFI) is a rare genetic condition where the enzyme for breaking down Fructose is not produced. If you discover you have frucrose sensitivty - you need to rule out HFI by seeing your doctor for a DNA test. With HFI it is vital to observe a very strict Fructose-free diet. Otherwise there is risk of serious disease including liver failure.

Fructose malabsorption on the other hand is much more common and affects about 30% of people. It especially affects young people who have many soft drinks per week including soda and mixers. With Fructose Malabsorption special cells (epithelial cells) on the surface of the intestine are not available to break down the fructose sugars.

Fructose is just one thing that could be causing your symptoms. There are more than twenty FOOD TOXINS – and they act in concert to damage cells and provoke the immune system.

Therefore we recommend trying a LOW TOXIN DIET (reducing all food toxins) – as this is more likely to address all your ailments.

Learn more with the Free ebook about Food Toxins


What are the symptoms of Fructose Malabsorption?

Symptoms of Fructose Malabsorption

Symptoms include:

  • Flatulence
  • Bloated stomach
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Tiredness, Chronic fatigue
  • Malabsorption issues: low iron (anaemia), osteoporosis or other nutrient deficiency
  • Sugar cravings
  • Poor skin, nails and hair
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • There is also clinical evidence associating it with mood disturbances and depression

Comments: The symptoms of Fructose malabsorption are very similar to those for Lactose Intolerance. So they can be mistaken for one another. You cannot diagnose your food intolerance from symptoms alone. To differentiate between them it's best to keep notes in a simple Journal as in foodintol® LoTox Living

How is Fructose Malabsorption treated?

Treatment for Fructose Malabsorption

If you have Fructose malabsorption - a Fructose-free diet will make you well within days. This is easy if you know which foods contain fructose - but many processed foods contain added Fructose under aliases like "HFCS" which is high fructose corn syrup.

But remember - the symptoms for Fructose Malabsorption overlap with other food sensitivities - so don't jump to conclusions about having Fructose malabsorption. Fructose is present in most fruits and vegetables and thousands of processed foods, supplements and medications.

Learn more with the Free ebook about Food Toxins


How do you Test for Fructose Malabsorption?

Testing for Fructose Malabsorption

In past times the hydrogen or H2 breath test was often used. However many doctors now regard this test as unreliable. Almost everyone who took the test turned out to be positive!

The doctor may use stool analysis - DNA tests to check for HFI. If you find you are Fructose-sensitive it is vital to rule out HFI as there may be serious health issues. The simplest, most reliable and accurate test is the Journal method as in foodintol® LoTox Programs


Why do people get Fructose Malabsorption?

Cause of Fructose Malabsorption

Fructose malabsorption - like any other food intolerance - is genetic. So you got it from your parents, grandparents and other ancestors.

However Fructose malabsorption could be somewhat self-imposed by our modern sugar-heavy diets. As a species - humans have not yet evolved systems to cope with such high sugar consumption - as in the typical Western diet.

Comments: Think carefully about the level of sugars like fructose you ingest: in soft drinks, confectionery, desserts, cookies and thousands of processed foods and pharmaceuticals. Fructose sensitive people improve dramatically on a Low Toxin diet.


When will I be cured from Fructose Malabsorption?

The rather common Fructose Malabsorption can be 'cured' by moderating your Fructose intake. It's easy to manage - with a Fructose-free diet. The difficult part is getting the diagnosis right - because it can easily be mistaken for other food intolerances.

While clinical testing methods can be rather unreliable - the Journal method is accurate and simple to use. By monitoring yourself - keeping a few notes in a Journal - you will find a threshold level that is comfortable. That is - you will be able to eat some foods containing Fructose without getting symptoms.

Comments: It is important to keep a journal of food eaten and symptoms on a daily basis, because it helps you come to know your body's sugar limits. 


How Sorbitol is linked to Fructose Malabsorption

How Sugars Break Down in Malabsorption

Sorbitol occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables. It is  now also used extensively in so-called "sugar-free" foods and confectionery. The trouble is, when it breaks down it releases Fructose into your bloodstream. So this needs to be monitored in a Fructose-Free diet.

Sugar malabsorption is the inability of the small intestine to break down sugars like fructose (most common), lactose or sorbitol into smaller molecular fragments for digestion. So the sugars progress down to the colon (large intestine) where bacteria break it down into short chain fatty acids and the gases carbon dioxide and hydrogen. These gases create enormous pressure in the intestine causing bloating, pain, diarrhea and flatulence.

In these people, because fructose (or lactose or sorbitol) is not absorbed by the intestine the condition is known as malabsorption, or an inability to be absorbed. But the molecule gets up to other mischief: it arrives in the colon where it drives an "osmotic purge". This means it attracts fluids back into the colon, making bowel motions loose and watery.

The main danger is that any other nutrients present can also be lost from the body, like calcium and iron. Fructose malabsorption therefore is not only associated with gastro-intestinal distress but also the inability to absorb all kinds of nutrients which can lead to serious diseases like anaemia and osteoporosis.

Fructose malabsorption is notoriously undiagnosed and misdiagnosed. Recent findings are that Fructose malabsorption is associated with the early stages of depression and mood disturbances.

Symptoms of Fructose malabsorption are the same as symptoms of other intolerances like dairy and gluten.

Fructose is just one thing that could be causing your symptoms.

There are more than twenty FOOD TOXINS – and they act in concert to damage cells and provoke the immune system. Therefore we recommend trying a LOW TOXIN DIET (reducing all food toxins) – as this is more likely to address all your ailments.





I think I might have food intolerance: What should I do?

Undiagnosed food intolerance can cause serious long-term health problems like osteoporosis, anaemia and many others. Learn more with the Free ebook about Food Toxins




All foodintol® information is based on research from peer-reviewed medical journals