Fructose is a naturally occurring simple sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and honey. The inability of the small intestine to break down sugar like fructose for digestion results in sugar malabsorption. The sugar moves into the large intestine (colon) where bacteria break it down causing bloating, pain, diarrhea and flatulence (gas).
Fructose intolerance is a general term for two conditions. One is a rare genetic condition called heredity fructose intolerance. This condition doesn’t produce an enzyme necessary to break down fructose. With this intolerance it is vital to observe a strict fructose-free diet. The more common disorder, fructose malabsorption, affects about 30% of people. It causes abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, pain, and bloating.
People with fructose intolerance should follow some general guidelines for eating fruits and vegetables that are friendlier to the intestines. Fruits to avoid because of their high fructose content include: prunes, pears and pear juice, apples and apple juice, cherries, peaches, grapes, plums, dates, applesauce, and apple cider. Fresh or frozen fruit may be better tolerated than canned fruit. Most vegetables are intestine friendly, however cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, beans, and green peppers my cause gas and bloating. Questionable vegetables to limit include: tomatoes, corn, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Keep in mind tolerance for fruits and vegetables may depend on the amount you eat at one time. Other foods to avoid are honey and fructose or sorbitol often found in flavorings, desserts, cereal, or other processed foods.