Fructose Malabsorption

Do you often suffer from abdominal pain and often experience bloating along with flatulence? It could be a case of Fructose Malabsorption that you are suffering from. Read and find out all about this condition, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Fructose Malabsorption Definition

It is an uncommon digestive disorder which is characterized by the inability of the body to absorb 25g of fructose. The body of people affected by this disease becomes unable to break down glucose. Hence, the fructose molecules travel to the undigested colon. The unabsorbed fructose gives rise to bloating and diarrhea. It is a sign but not an abnormality and clearly indicates that the diet should be changed at the earliest.

The disorder is also referred to as:

  • FM
  • Dietary fructose intolerance

Fructose Malabsorption ICD9 Code

The ICD9 code for this medical condition is 271.

Fructose Malabsorption Incidence

FM affects 30-80% of all inhabitants of the US. Children with a medical background of chronic gastric disorder are more prone to the syndrome. 30% of the total population in Africa and other Western countries are affected by this condition.

Fructose Malabsorption Causes

FM can affect anyone, infants as well as aged individuals. The possible causative factors for this syndrome include:

  • Excess use of fruit juices or HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) in children
  • Celiac disorder
  • Brisk stomach emptying (Dumping Syndrome)
  • Hereditary or inherited anomaly of GLUT-5- a fructose transporting protein
  • SIBO (Small intestine bacterial overgrowth)
  • Chemotherapy, which damages the small intestine mucosa.

Fructose Malabsorption Symptoms

The disease can occur at any age and its symptoms may differ from person to person. This form of malabsorption is considered to be one of the primary causes of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). The symptoms appear within 24 hours after consuming a meal rich in fructose. The prominent signs of this disease may include:

  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Aversion towards sweets
  • Gurgling
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Yearning for sugar
  • Headache
  • Weight loss

Due to diarrhea, many essential nutrients (like vitamins and iron) get flushed out of the small intestine before getting absorbed. Consequently, anemia and other nutrient deficiencies may occur with time.

Fructose Malabsorption Diagnosis

If doubts arise regarding the possibility of the existence of FM in the body of the individual, doctors may perform few tests to make a definitive diagnosis. The diagnosis of FM is similar to that of Lactose intolerance. To diagnose FM in patients, a number of fructose malabsorption tests can be conducted. These include:

Hydrogen Breath Test

Though it is the ideal medical test to diagnose FM, the results may fluctuate depending in the amount of fructose consumed. The dosage may range from 15 g to 100 g; 25 g and 50 g depending on the intensity of the disorder. The amount of hydrogen to be inhaled depends on the discretion of the doctor examining the patient. Hydrogen test helps detect various types of bacterial overgrowth in the intestine along with lactose intolerance.


An x-ray image of the abdomen helps doctors determine the presence of FM in the body of the patient.

CT scan

CT scan of the abdomen helps inspect the digestive tract and diagnose FM.


Bowel biopsy is another clinical method used to diagnose FM symptoms in the body of patients and begin treatment on an early basis.

Fructose Malabsorption Treatment

The symptoms of FM can be administered by curbing fructose in the diet. In a few cases, consuming glucose helps patients to recover at the same time. Glucose increases the absorption rate of fructose and may minimize the symptoms. If equal quantity of fructose and glucose is injected into the body, patients can overcome this medical condition.

Fructose Malabsorption Diet

The treatment of FM focuses on limiting fructose in the diet of patient. In order to treat the syndrome, a fructose-restricted diet is a must for FM patients. Such diets should not include foods which are high in sorbitol, fructose and fructan like:

  • Sweetened beverages
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Table sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Fruit and fruit juices
  • Meat products cured in sugar or breaded

Unfavorable food items

Foods which have more fructose than glucose should be avoided by FM patients. Such eatables include:

  • Fortified wines
  • Fruits (such as star fruit, watermelon, honeydew melon, nashi fruit, apple, pear, guava, pawpaw, papaya and quince)
  • Dried fruits (namely date, fig, pear, apple, currant, raisin and sultana )
  • Corn syrups, agave nectar and juice concentrate, which have added sugar in them

Favorable food items

Foods which have equal amount of fructose and glucose in them should be consumed by FM patients to cure the syndrome. Such foods include:

  • Berry fruits (like blackberry, boysenberry, cranberry, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry and loganberry)
  • Stone fruits(such as nectarine, peach, apricot and plum)
  • Few other fruits which help heal the syndrome (kiwi fruit, passion fruit, pineapple, ripe banana, rhubarb, tamarillo and jackfruit).

Liberal foods

These include:

  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Plantain
  • Tapioca
  • Eggs
  • Milk (if lactose malabsorption is not a problem)
  • Yogurt
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Potato
  • Meat
  • Broccoli
  • Lemons and limes
  • Glucose
  • Yams
  • Rice

Fructose Malabsorption Complications

Unless diagnosed at the right time, FM can give rise to a series of health complications. Such complications are equivalent to various other malabsorption issues, including:

It is due to this reason that doctors advice patients to maintain a food diary and keep lists of the foods to be taken and avoided, thereby minimizing the possibility of risk of complications.

Fructose Malabsorption is a severe digestive disorder. If you suspect yourself to be experiencing its symptoms, consult a physician immediately and start your treatment at the earliest. Do not neglect the disease, as it can give rise to a series of complications.

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