People who suffer from IBS or other underlying gastrointestinal conditions will know that fructose can make things worse. However, new research has revealed that up to a third of people can experience symptoms of IBS when they eat it.
Considering IBS affects between 10 – 20% of the population and fructose is ubiquitous in so many of the things we eat, it’s worth finding out more.
HuffPost UK Lifestyle spoke to United European Gastroenterology (UEG) spokesperson and practicing UK gastroenterology consultant Dr Charles Murray who said: “It’s not a new finding that fructose can cause problems to people with underlying IBS symptoms, but it demonstrates that up to a third of people can develop symptoms. What’s interesting is the role diet intervention has to play. The reason fructose is a problem is because we are all eating foods with more fructose.”
Fructose, he says, is a naturally-occurring simple sugar found in fruit, vegetables and honey. When used commercially, fructose is usually derived from sugar cane, sugar beets and maize. Most people appear to be able to tolerate fructose reasonably well, however, the sugar is not always completely absorbed from the digestive tract, and when this happens, it tends to ferment and produce gases such as hydrogen.”
Dr Murray adds: "People with IBS are particularly sensitive to alterations in the gut, and while a high intake of fructose can cause abdominal symptoms in anyone, people with IBS are especially prone to developing typical symptoms such as bloating, pain, diarrhoea and constipation."
However the most insidious form of fructose is corn syrup, which is pretty much found in everything from junk food to fizzy drinks. Sauces, especially are the worst.
How can you figure out how much fructose you're getting?
"A food diary is good," says Dr Murray, "but people shouldn’t restrict too much without the aid of a professional. You can regulate your diet so there are some fruits are high in fructose – e.g, apples and mangoes - but bananas and blueberries are relatively low. And definitely watch out for smoothies - especially any loaded with orange juice."