FRUCTOSE INTOLERANCE | Menu and recommendations
FRUCTOSE INTOLERANCE | Menu and recommendations. What is fructose? Well, fructose is a simple sugar that is naturally present in fruits and honey. In addition, some vegetables also contain it in the form of fructans, which are the union of many fructoses. We also ingest fructose through sucrose. Sucrose is common sugar and is a union of glucose and fructose that, once ingested, is broken down into two molecules. Another sugar related to fructose is sorbitol, which, like fructose, is added as an additive and sweetener to many processed products. Now that we have described the enemy, we would like to talk about why fructose intolerance occurs.
When we eat plant foods containing fructose, the fructose must be absorbed by the cells of the small intestine. If this function is disturbed, the fructose continues to travel through the intestine until it reaches the large intestine, where it produces the typical symptoms of fructose intolerance or malabsorption. There are two very distinct cases of fructose intolerance: hereditary fructose intolerance and fructose malabsorption. As previously mentioned, with fructose malabsorption certain amounts of fructose are only partially absorbed in the small intestine.
Unabsorbed fructose stimulates the entry of water into the small intestine, causing abdominal distention, abdominal pain, and often diarrhea. Unabsorbed fructose continues its way through the intestine, reaching the colon, where it is fermented generating hydrogen gas. It has been shown that fructose malabsorption is a fairly common phenomenon, occurring in about 35 percent of healthy people. In contrast, hereditary fructose intolerance is a genetic disorder of fructose metabolism that occurs in one in 20,000 people. Due to this inborn error, fructose cannot be metabolized when it reaches the liver, resulting in an accumulation of a by-product that is toxic to the body.
Therefore, depending on the pathology suffered and taking into account that the consequences of its symptoms are very different, the treatment to be followed will be different. In the case of hereditary fructose intolerance, the treatment is a strict fructose-free diet, in which no more than one or two grams of fructose can be consumed per day, either in the form of fructose, sucrose, or sorbitol. In the case of fructose malabsorption, the treatment is a dietary restriction of fructose. Normally between 10 and 15 grams of fructose per day are tolerated, although it depends a lot on each person and it is recommended to choose foods that do not exceed three grams of fructose per hundred grams of the product.
In addition, the consumption of foods high in fructans must also be restricted. To follow this type of diet, we recommend that you seek the advice of a dietitian nutritionist to help you achieve a diet as varied and enjoyable as possible, including all the foods you can tolerate. To give you an overall idea of the fructose content of fruits and vegetables, fruits that have less than three grams of fructose per hundred grams of fruit are papaya, mandarins, lemons, and cranberries. Fruits with a high fructose content include bananas, kiwis, apples, or pears. Keep in mind that ripe fruits have more sugar, i.e. fructose, than unripe fruits.
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Vegetables with a low fructose content include chards, cucumbers, or radishes. Let us now see an example of a menu of meals suitable for people with fructose malabsorption. We have chosen ingredients that do not exceed three grams of fructose per hundred grams of the food. Keep in mind that the food tolerance threshold is individual and depends a lot on each person’s particular phase and degree of malabsorption. How did we put together this menu? To begin with, it is a generic menu that you will have to customize.
You will see that all meals are put together with the three main food groups: carbohydrates, proteins, and a small portion of vegetables that should not exceed 50 or 100 grams. For salads, you will see that we have always used a base of raw spinach or lamb’s lettuce instead of lettuce. When preparing the creams, do not use fried onion, garlic, or leeks. For the carbohydrates, opt for white rice, pasta, and bread instead of wholemeal. And finally, you will see that for proteins we have alternated between different options of meat, fish, or eggs.
When suffering from this type of intolerance, it is important to pay attention to packaged and canned foods. Pay special attention to sodas, soft drinks, juices, pastries, soups, sauces, ice cream, sweets, or jelly beans. Also, keep in mind that packaged products bearing claims of lower, reduced, light, or 0% sugar content may contain added fructose as a sugar replacement. Yes, because people who are fructose intolerant and have difficulties digesting foods containing sugar, sucrose, should refrain from eating those indulgent foods that we all like to enjoy from time to time, such as chocolate or jam. And this can be very limiting at times.
For these cases, there are special products, low in fructose and suitable for people with this intolerance. You will find them on the Frusano website, where you will also find the exact amount of fructose contained in each of their products. Here we have some examples, all of them low in fructose, lactose-free, and most gluten-free and organic. Here we have, for example, a chocolate bar, a hazelnut spread, a fruit spread, a corn sugar, spelled biscuits, a cereal bar, or a rice syrup. Consuming these products occasionally allows you to enjoy some recipes and products with a sweeter taste, but we recommend, just like we recommend this to people who are not intolerant, that you try to get used to the natural taste of food to reduce your sugar intake.