Carbohydrates (sugars) are one such food that can put your body into digestive distress. Sugars are a class of carbohydrates that include simple sugars – like monosaccharides and disaccharides – which are commonly known as glucose, fructose, and galactose. Metabolically, our bodies cannot operate without sugar – they are our chief energy source.
At least 20% of the population from an industrialized country suffers from a food intolerance or food allergy, including a sensitivity or intolerance to sugar. These individuals tend to experience gastrointestinal distress on a regular basis, such as excessive flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, and potentially nutrient deficiencies due to impaired absorption of food.
While there is no such things as a true, IgE immunologically-mediated allergy to sugar, many people are intolerant to various types of sugar, the most commonly being lactose (the sugar found in dairy products). Others may suffer from fructose malabsorption – an inability of the small intestine to fully absorb fructose. And yet, others may have a hereditary condition whereby they lack various liver enzymes needed to break down fructose.
When it comes to gastrointestinal distress, finding the root cause is key.
Here are some ways that may help you uncover the true cause of your symptoms, and provide a little symptomatic relief along your journey:
- Track your meals. Use a food diary to journal your meals and when you experience digestive symptoms. This tool can help pinpoint which foods may act as triggers.
- Try an elimination diet. Trying an elimination diet, which temporarily eliminates common food triggers such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and eggs. Use a systematic way of re-entering foods in your diet that allows you to isolate which food may be the trigger of your symptoms.
- Become food-literate. Making educated decisions about your food is an important step in your wellness journey. If you believe you are sensitive to sugar, becoming familiar with foods classified as “FODMAPs” – fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols – may save you numerous digestive aggravations.
- Organize your meals. Avoid food offenders by packing your on-the-go meals and snacks for work or school. This will help stop you from making poor food choices.
- Get tested. Depending on the severity of your condition, enzyme tests, liver function tests, or hydrogen-breath tests may be diagnostically appropriate. Your primary healthcare provider will determine which tests are appropriate for you.
- Support your gut. Ensuring your digestive tract is at optimal pH will support the growth of “good” bacteria needed to properly digest your food. Try using Molkosan – a lacto-fermented whey beverage and source of L+ lactic acid that helps maintain a healthy pH of the gut.
- Seek professional help. It is imperative to work with your primary healthcare practitioner to ensure your symptoms are not related to a more serious underlying health disorder.