Sugar Sensitivity - Frequently Asked Questions

Two Types of Sugar Sensitivity - Definition:

There are two types of sugar sensitivity - both are about Fructose.

    • The first: Sugar or Fructose Malabsorption is suffered widely ~ 1 in 3 people
    • The other - Hereditary Sugar (Fructose) Sensitivity (HFI) is rare
    • You can get malabsorption illnesses from both of these


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How many people have Sugar Sensitivity?

  • Hereditary Sugar (Fructose) Sensitivity - (HFI) is quite rare: Less than one in 10,000 - or 30,000 Americans. It is in your genes (genetic) so it's for life. To get a clinical diagnosis you need a stool test (DNA test) from your doctor. Even very small amouints of Fructose can cause reactions with HFI.
  • Sugar Malabsorption is very common. One in three people (33% - or 103 million Americans) experience sugar sensitivity - most commonly to Fructose. However most don't get symptoms until later in life. The particular sugar involved - Fructose - is found commonly in fruits, vegetables. honey, and thousands of processed foods like soft drinks and sweets.

Most sugar sensitivity is undiagnosed, but can be responsible for symptoms like stomach bloating, diarrhea, dehydration, unexplained weight loss and other intestinal distress. These are the kind of symptoms for which we dismiss in our busy lives by taking over-the-counter medications.

Fructose malabsorption is dose-dependent - meaning the problem only arises because of the high sugar content of many modern foods like soft drinks and processed foods. New Fructose-heavy sugars have recently been developed to replace cane sugar (sucrose): for instance High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). This one especially is used extensively in manufactured foods due to its strong sweetening power and low cost.


What is the difference between the two types of Sugar Sensitivity?

The symptoms for both are the same - but it is important to check for HFI with a DNA test.

Hereditary Sugar Sensitivity (HFI) is a rare genetic condition. The special enzyme for breaking down fructose is not produced. If you find out you have sugar sensitivity - see your doctor for a DNA test to rule out HFI. With this form of sugar sensitivity it is vital to observe a very strict Sugar-free diet. Otherwise there is risk of serious disease including liver failure.

Sugar (Fructose) malabsorption on the other hand is common and affects about 30% - especially people who have many soft drinks and/or soft drink mixers in a week. With Sugar Malabsorption the epithelial cells on the surface of the small intestine are not available to break down the fructose, so you get sick.

Comments: Treatment of HFI is a very strict Sugar-free diet for life. Treatment for Sugar Malabsorption is a Sugar-free diet with some concessions. With this latter form - you can find a threshold level: safely eat some Sugar without symptoms.


What are the symptoms of Sugar Sensitivity?

Symptoms for both types:

  • Gastro-intestinal problems: flatulence, Stomach Bloating, Diarrhea, Irritable Bowel
  • Malabsorption: low iron (anaemia), osteoporosis or other nutrient deficiency
  • Poor skin, nails and hair
  • Depression or mood disturbances
  • Cravings

Comments: The symptoms of both types of Sugar sensitivity are very similar to Lactose Sensitivity so they can be mistaken for one another. You cannot diagnose your food sensitivity from symptoms alone. To differentiate among them it's best to keep a Journal.

Why do we get Sugar Sensitivity?

Sugar sensitivity is genetic – you got it from your parents, grandparents and other ancestors.

Most Sugar sensitivity is the Malabsorption type. It may be somewhat self-imposed by the modern Western diet which is sugar-heavy.

As a species humans have not yet developed systems to process such high levels of sugar. In general - we still have digestive systems the same as our caveman ancestors - who never had access to "Modern Foods" - like highly refined sugars, dairy foods and cereals.

Comments: Think about how much sugar you consume every day: in canned drinks, candy, desserts, cookies and thousands of processed foods and medications. 

How do you treat Sugar Sensitivity?

For sugar sensitivity - a Sugar-free or Fructose-free diet is the best treatment - and the best management - for life. This is easy if you know which foods contain the fructose - fruit sugar. But these days many processed foods surprisingly contain added sugars - and 'hidden sugars' under aliases like 'corn syrup'.

However - the most difficult thing is finding out whether you have fructose intolerance - or some other sensitivity. The symptoms food intolerances all overlap - along with those of other food toxins. We recommend a LOW TOXIN DIET.

Comments: Sugar is present in many fruits and vegetables and thousands of processed foods, supplements and medications.

When will I be cured from Sugar Sensitivity?

For HFI (Hereditary Sugar Sensitivity) - you cannot be cured. For this a very rigorous Fructose-free Diet must be maintained in the long term. A completely Fructose-free diet is essential.

The much more common Sugar Malabsorption cannot be cured either. But it is much easier to manage.

It is important to keep a journal of foods eaten and symptoms on a daily basis, until you come to know your body's limits. A Journal lets you discover your threshold of sensitivity - so you can eat some sweet foods without suffering symptoms. 



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