Digestive Problems

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Fructose Allergy Could Cause Irritable Bowel Symptoms

Date: 17 October, 2003

Mainstream doctors have been extremely reluctant to acknowledge food allergies like those to wheat, which can cause bloating, flatulence and bowel problems. Instead they’ll usually only admit to the existence of so-called ‘Type I’ food allergies (the kind that result in classic allergic symptoms like hives, wheezing, and sneezing). These types of allergies are fairly rare, and symptoms usually present themselves within minutes.

The alternative health community, however, has recognised the very real threat of different levels of food allergies, or sensitivities, for many years. Now research suggests that as much as 70 percent of the general population suffers from a different kind of food allergy that most doctors don’t even know about. They’re called ‘delayed food allergies,’ because the symptoms can appear three to five days after the food has been ingested. And this type of allergy can be the cause of a whole host of symptoms, including acne, eczema, migraines, diarrhoea, constipation, and physical and mental fatigue.

Now new mainstream research is lending credence to the food-allergy theory. Just this week, researchers at the University of Iowa announced the results of a study that shows a fructose (a common type of simple sugar) allergy might be responsible for many cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other unexplained gastrointestinal complaints. This is consistent with what alternative practitioners have been saying for years – and it could be very good news for people who suffer with this ‘incurable’ condition.

The finding was presented at the 66th annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology. In the study, doctors recruited 219 patients with unexplained upper GI symptoms – bloating, cramping, distension, diarrhoea, and gas. More than 80 percent of the participants met the diagnostic criteria for irritable bowel syndrome – and nearly 80 percent of the same participants tested positive for fructose allergy.

In this study, fructose allergy was assessed using a breath test. This type of test checks for the presence of gases in the breath that are produced when fructose is not absorbed properly. To understand this, it might be easier to think of the condition as ‘fructose intolerance,’ or ‘fructose malabsorption’ rather than an allergy. Here’s what happens: if your body is unable to absorb fructose during digestion, the fructose passes into the colon. Once there, the bacteria in the colon feast on it. The bacteria’s digestion of fructose in the colon produces acids, and gases like methane and hydrogen. (The gases are what causes the flatulence and bloating symptoms, while the acids are responsible for the cramping and diarrhoea.) Some of the gases get into the bloodstream, and can then be detected in the breath.

If you suffer with irritable bowel syndrome, ask your doctor about taking a breath test. You may find that he or she isn’t familiar with them – it isn’t a widely used procedure. But more and more facilities are offering them and with a little research, you should be able to find a hospital or lab in your area.

If you find you do have a fructose allergy, you may finally find relief from the painful, inconvenient, and embarrassing symptoms of IBS by adopting a low-fructose diet. Fructose is found primarily in alcoholic beverages, corn, and corn-based products. Unfortunately, derivatives like corn oil, corn syrup, and fructose syrup are used in a wide array of foods. It may take some getting used to, but most IBS sufferers are more than willing to change their diet for the promise of a symptom-free life.

But even if you don’t have IBS, you can still learn something from this study. Maybe you have another type of nagging health problem that doctors have been unable to identify (or cure). Maybe in your case it’s eczema, or dermatitis, or migraines, or fatigue. Whatever the case, delayed food allergies could be responsible. Why suffer with these conditions when a change in your diet might solve the problem?

This is urgent and welcome news for anyone who has irritable bowel syndrome, or other unexplained health conditions that might be caused by delayed food allergies. One simple test could reveal the cause of many years of suffering and inconvenience – and open the door to a whole new world of good health.

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  1. Johnny Posted April 11, 2010

    We should really all just stay away from any form of processed or refined foods… man made is bad made!

  2. Sharon Posted August 24, 2008

    It isn’t an allergy but an absorption issue

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