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Fructose May Cause Digestive Problems

Common Sweetener Behind 'Unexplained' Pain, Flatulence, Other Symptoms

Fructose Intolerance Test continued...

Last October, Beyer presented his own research at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology indicating that 60% of his study participants with no known digestive problems were found to be fructose intolerant at intake levels half of those used in this study's fructose solution. Beyer, who was not involved in the new research, suggests that doctors routinely give fructose breath tests in patients with unexplained digestive symptoms.

"I don't want to give the impression that people will double over in pain or have recurring diarrhea from drinking a glass of apple juice or having a soda," he tells WebMD. "But it can trigger symptoms in many people with no diagnosed [digestive] condition. And the more fructose they consume, the more problems they may have. These effects may be more severe and apparent in those with irritable bowel syndrome or other known [digestive] disorders."

Only 'Scattered Awareness'

Phil Jaffe, MD, spokesman for the American College of Gastroenterology and associate professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, says that fructose intolerance has earned "scattered awareness" among his colleagues over the past decade but remains underdiagnosed.

"I don't think 75% of my patients who have bloating and discomfort are fructose intolerant, but it probably is a significant number," he tells WebMD. He routinely screens his patients for fructose intolerance.

"Not only was this study well done, but this is an important clinical issue because lots of people with bloating, gas, and other symptoms don't have a good handle on why they have these symptoms," says Jaffe, who also was not involved in the study.

"Unless you are specifically screened for fructose intolerance, you may not know it can be a cause of problems. And fructose is in virtually all processed foods because it is cheaper to use than cane sugar."

Both experts advise that if you notice digestive problems soon after eating, you should see your doctor about getting a fructose breath test. In addition to limiting high-fructose foods, spacing the amount consumed can help you side-step symptoms.

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