Fructose Malabsorption: Why HFCS Causes Gas, Bloating and Diarrhea
A common, but still relatively unknown cause of an upset stomach, bad gas and other digestive issues is fructose malabsorption in the gastrointestinal tract.
More and more people are becoming aware of how unhealthy high fructose corn syrup is. Far less know that too much of this fruit sugar can also lead to bloating, intestinal cramps, excessive gas and even diarrhea.
Ahead is just what fructose is and why it is malabsorbed for so many people. You’ll also find a list of high fructose foods and drinks, as well as HFCS-free alternatives for improved gut health and a better body.
What Foods and Drinks Contain Fructose and HFCS?
Many fruits and most sweeteners contain high levels of fructose. Unlike glucose, which is easily used throughout your body as energy, fructose is primarily metabolized in your liver.
In small amounts this isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, with high fructose corn syrup now such a common ingredient in processed foods, many people are getting far too much of it for their liver to deal with effectively.
Also known as HFCS, this highly fattening ingredient, strongly linked to an increased risk of serious disorders, has been added to a numerous processed foods. So much so that it’s quite a challenge to find a product without it in the middle aisles of most supermarkets.
Fructose is sometimes called fruit sugar and fruits are the traditional source of it. Your liver can comfortably deal with the amount of it in the occasional apple, pear or kiwi fruit.
It’s a different story however, when you start consuming excessive amounts of HFCS sweetener found in many processed foods, and particularly sugary drinks and sodas. These high levels of high fructose corn syrup can easily cause an upset stomach, painful cramps and even diarrhea in sensitive people.
Common table sugar is a big source of fructose, but in recent decades it has been eclipsed by the huge increase in corn syrup consumption.
By far the biggest source of HFCS in most American diets though are sugary beverages like sodas, ‘sport’ drinks and commercial fruit juices.
So called sport drinks and packaged fruit juices often contain more than 50 grams of fructose per 33 oz bottle.
Even worse, a large 34 oz bottle of the most popular soda pop contains 108 grams of total sugars, or 27 teaspoons, of which up to 65% of these are fructose (and that’s just the start of the problems with acidic soda).
What Causes HFCS Malabsorption and Why is It so Bad for You?
All of us will experience an inability to metabolize fructose at high enough levels, though just where this level is appears to vary considerably from person to person.
Some people can guzzle HFCS laden sodas and fruit juices without obvious, or at least immediate problems. While others will suffer bloating, an upset stomach, intestinal cramps and excessive gas when they drink much lesser amounts of these products.
Studies show that approximately 37% of healthy adults can’t process more than 50 grams of fructose without experiencing gastrointestinal distress and symptoms like diarrhea. Furthermore, up to 70% of patients with IBS have a clear intolerance to fruit sugar.
Food for Bad Bacteria
When you give your body too much HFCS, and other forms of fructose, for it to absorb, it has to go somewhere. That somewhere is often down to your lower intestine for bacterial break down.
Fruit sugar is a favorite food for bad bacteria in the colon and they proliferate and produce large amounts of gas in the presence of excess corn syrup in particular.
Symptoms of HFCS malabsorption include bloating, abdominal pain and cramps, increased intestinal noises, IBS, excessive flatulence and diarrhea. Soda consumption can also lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
Despite all of this, fructose malabsorption is one of the simplest causes of bloating and bad gas to fix. You just need to have less of it. Quitting soda saturated with corn syrup would be a great start.
Unlike indigestible oligosaccharides, found in beans that make you fart and gas producing vegetables, fructose can be processed by your body. Just not in the excessive amounts too many of us are regularly consuming.
High Fructose Foods and Drinks List
Use this list of high fructose sweeteners, drinks, processed foods and fruits to see where the most likely sources of fruit sugar are in your diet and which ones you can easily limit or avoid.
Aside from otherwise beneficial fruit, any of the others that you can remove or heavily reduce will not only help digestive problems, they’ll also improve both your waistline and your overall wellness and wellbeing.
High Fructose Sweeteners
- High fructose corn syrup
- Agave syrup
- White sugar
- Golden syrup and most other syrup sweeteners
Common Fructose-Sweetened Drinks
- Sodas, especially cola
- Commercial apple, grape, pear and orange juices
- ‘Sport’ and ‘energy’ drinks
- Mango, guava, apricot nectar
- Iced teas
- Fruit punch drinks
High Fructose Foods List
- Canned apples, pears and other fruits with syrup
- Fruit based baby food
- Dried fruits like sultanas, raisins, apple, dates, prunes and figs
- Bottles sauces and condiments
- Desserts like cakes and ice cream
- Sweetened snacks like pastries, cookies and candy
- Snack bars
- Fast food hamburgers, salads and most other items on the menu
- Canned and packaged soups
- Breakfast cereals
- Most sweet tasting and many savory processed foods
Highest Fructose Fruits List
- Kiwi fruit
- All dried fruit
Of this list, the fruits are by far the most nutritious source of fructose, but it’s still a good idea to limit those for a while too if you’re experiencing digestive issues.
Corn syrup has no place in a good diet. It is so bad for you it will not only increase your risk of serious disorders, it’s also one of the most effective fatteners of the human body ever invented.
Replacing soda with better alternatives and cutting back on sugary snacks is a great start.
However, other products you may have thought of as good for you, like canned fruit or apple juice, are also important to ditch. This is not just for avoiding bloating and flatulence, but for your long term wellness and wellbeing as well.
Next is a list of HFCS free and low fruit sugar foods, drinks and sweeteners you can use as an alternative to the high fructose products above.
There’s also a list of low fructose fruits which are the best choices to eat if you have fruit sugar malabsorption that is leading to digestive issues, such as an upset stomach, abdominal cramps and excessive gas.
Fructose-Free Foods and Drinks
Best Fructose-Free Sweeteners
- Zero calorie stevia
- Coconut sugar
- Dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids, preferably higher)
- Maple syrup (check it doesn’t have added HFCS)
Fruit Sugar Free Drinks
- Herbal teas, especially gas fighting ginger tea and fennel tea
- Lemon water
- Sparkling water
- Freshly made vegetable juices
- Coconut water
Fructose-Free Foods List
- Fish and Seafood
- Nuts and Seeds
- Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil
- Herbs and spices
- Rare packaged foods without terms like ‘syrup’ on the label
- All Paleo approved recipes
Low Fructose Fruits List
High Fructose Corn Syrup Reduction
Cutting back on the amount of fruit sugar you consume isn’t just good for reducing gastrointestinal problems like bloating and flatulence. High fructose corn syrup is a highly fattening substance, metabolized by your liver into triglycerides and strongly linked to an increased risk of many life threatening disorders.
If you drink sugary sodas or commercial fruit juices these will usually be the biggest sources of fructose in your diet. Swapping them out for this much healthier soda replacement is one of the best things you can do for your wellness and wellbeing.
If you suspect you may have fructose malabsorption, then compare this list of high fruit sugar foods and low fructose alternatives and see where you can make some changes. Your body will thank you for it in more ways than one.