Low Fructose Diet
Important Information about a Low Fructose Diet
When the word “diet” is heard, many people automatically think of weight loss; however, many such as the low fructose diet are designed for the maintenance of health in people who suffer from intolerance of a particular element.
What is fructose?
Fructose is a simple sugar. It occurs naturally in foods such as fruit, vegetables and honey, providing the sweetness that makes these foods so palatable. It is also used as a sweetener in manufactured products including soft drinks, processed foods and bakery items; often combined with another naturally occurring sweetener called glucose.
How fructose affects the body
Being natural often seems to imply that an element is human friendly to many people, but that is not always the case. For some unknown reason, certain people lack enzymes within their digestive system that are designed to break down specific elements in the foods they eat. When those enzymes are missing, intolerance for the foods containing those elements is developed. The elements pass through the digestive system without being absorbed, which often creates uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, gas, pain, diarrhea, constipation and nausea.
When fruits or vegetables are consumed or their juices drank, the fructose passes through to the small intestine where it is usually absorbed quickly. The typical human body is normally able to absorb approximately 25 to 50 grams of fructose at one time. However, there are individuals whose systems are unable to absorb this natural sugar, and therefore benefit from adhering to a low fructose diet. When fructose malabsorption is an issue, less than 25 grams of the sugar is able to be absorbed by their digestive system.
Another consideration about fructose is that it can only be metabolized in the liver. The liver either stores the fructose as liver glycogen or uses it for energy. Levels of liver glycogen are typically high at all times of the day except early morning, so the fructose is sent off to other parts of the body to be stored as fat. This means that high consumption of fructose products may actually increase weight. In fact, the rise of both fructose consumption and the rise of obesity have occurred simultaneously.
When malabsorption of the fructose is a problem, there are specific dietary restrictions that must be considered. They include:
- Eliminating any processed or manufactured foods that include fructose, crystalline fructose, honey, or sorbitol on the list of ingredients.
- Avoiding so-called “diet” or “diabetic” foods that list sorbitol, isomalt, lactitol, xylitol, erythrytol, lactatol, maltitol and mannitol. Foods such as diet drinks, processed foods and sweets are the food items to inspect for these elements.
- Strictly limit the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), brown sugar, maple sugar, cane sugar, honey, molasses and concentrated fruit juice. Table sugar is a better choice, but should still be consumed only in small amounts if any.
- Limit intake of these fruits: apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, prunes, dates and grapes, including juices of these fruits.
- Limit intake of these vegetables: corn, sweet potatoes, carrots and tomatoes
- Strictly limit consumption of dessert items that are sweetened with either sorbitol or fructose.
Because red meats, poultry and fish have no fructose, these foods can be eaten in normal quantities according to the food pyramid recommendations. Also, it is important to remember that there are still many fruits and vegetables that can and should be enjoyed without the danger of consuming fructose.
People have been increasing the amount of fructose consumed in their diets steadily over the years, which will likely make it very difficult to make the transition of eliminating these foods from their diet. However, there is solid proof that greatly decreasing the amount of simple sugars by adapting to a low fructose diet will not only be beneficial to overall health but be beneficial for weight loss as well.