Sugar intolerance describes any condition in which the body is unable to absorb basic sugars. Different kinds of sugar intolerance include fructose intolerance, a sugar allergy, and even lactose intolerance.
The main cause of sugar intolerance is a deficiency of the enzyme lactase. This enzyme is meant to break down sugars into digestible forms so they can be digested of absorbed by the body, and a deficiency makes this very hard or even impossible. When this enzyme is gone, a bacterium that resides in the digestive tract can ferment into gases, resulting in many uncomfortable symptoms.
Fructose intolerance is a fairly rare condition that affects about one in every 10,000 individuals. Many people confuse it with sugar or fructose malabsorption, but they are two very different conditions. Fructose intolerance is a condition in which the enzymes for breaking down sugars are not being produced. This intolerance can be passed genetically and will last a lifetime. Fructose malabsorption is far more common and affects over 30% of the population. This happens when epithelial cells are not available to help with digestion. Almost one in three people experience some type of sugar sensitivity, but many have no symptoms.
The symptoms of a sugar allergy may include diarrhea, bloating, and excessive gas. These symptoms will appear a few hours after consuming drinks or foods that contain simple or even complex sugars. An individual can avoid this condition by staying away from common foods which contain sugar or fructose. Fruits, juices, and soft drinks contain large amounts of these ingredients and should be avoided.
Lactose intolerance occurs when the lactase level is too low or non-existent and the molecule, which consists of two sugar molecules joined together, cannot be broken apart and digested. Those who have this form of sugar intolerance are commonly advised to take a lactase supplement before consuming any foods that contain sugars. Many also choose to substitute normal milk for soy, nut, or lactose-free milk. There are many kinds of food which may contain lactose or sugars that may need to be avoided or eaten very sparingly.
Most who believe they may have a sugar intolerance can go to a medical professional for diagnosis. If a professional diagnosis reveals a sugar intolerance of any kind, then the patient may be advised on how to combat the problem. Medication or supplements may be issued, and typically the patient will work closely with doctors or nutritionists to develop a dietary plan. The most effective way to live with a sugar intolerance, if it is not treatable, is to learn which foods to avoid.