Understanding Fructose Intolerance

Food intolerance is common than you might initially anticipate, with the amine, sulfites, fructose, gluten, lactose, salicylate, and caffeine intolerance being among the top concerns. While the digestive problem occurs after eating a particular food, it is advisable to seek immediate medical attention if the symptoms are moderate or severe. This is noting that while you might think it is intolerance, it could be a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Below is a quick look at fructose intolerance to better understand it as you endeavor to maintain a practical health regimen.

Fructose is a simple sugar (monosaccharide) commonly found in vegetables, fruits, honey, nectar, agave, and processed foods with added sugars. Fructose malabsorption means that the intestine’s surface cells can’t break down the fructose efficiently. The condition arises due to a range of causes, among the primary including;

  • Preexisting problems like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Good and bad bacteria imbalance in the gut
  • Inflammation
  • High consumption of refined and processed foods
  • Stress

Fructose intolerance types

Fructose intolerance is categorized into three types, as highlighted below.

Hereditary intolerance

This is a rare genetic problem and the most serious fructose intolerance type. People with HFI don’t make the enzyme needed to break down fructose, meaning that their bodies can’t digest it or fructose precursors. Insufficient fructose-1-phosphate aldolase enzyme activity leads to the accumulation of fructose in the kidneys and liver. The accumulation, if not managed, can lead to life-threatening complications such as kidney or liver failure. HFI is commonly detected after a baby starts to consume formula or food. While serious, the intolerance is treatable and manageable with measures such as sticking to a strict fructose-free diet.

Essential fructosuria

Also known as hepatic fructokinase deficiency, the type is a harmless recessive disorder that you might not even be aware you have. The condition results from a lack of hepatic fructokinase, a liver enzyme that breaks down fructose.  The condition is typically asymptomatic, and no treatment is needed. You get it if you receive the gene from both parents, but you become a carrier if you receive it from only one parent.

Fructose malabsorption

This is a popular food sensitivity resulting from genetics, lifestyle, and exposure to fructose, affective 1 in 3 people. Under this category, fructose is not properly digested and passes into the large intestines, resulting in gas and painful digestion. Most fructose malabsorption people are sensitive to food groups, including monosaccharides, disaccharides, fermented oligosaccharides, and polyols.


While fructose intolerance symptoms vary based on the type, the common includes;

  • Bloating and gas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chronic fatigue

If not treated and managed, hereditary fructose intolerance causes more problems, noting that it affects kids as early as they start eating. Some symptoms that you may notice include;

  • Impaired physical development and growth delays
  • Jaundice
  • Hyperventilation
  • Dislike of sweets

Fructose intolerance isn’t curable. However, following the type, your doctor will follow a specific treatment option and advice on managing the condition. For instance, for hereditary fructose intolerance, you are advised to maintain a strict no fructose diet.