As is well known, when we eat certain foods we run the risk of suffering adverse reactions in our organism. The most frequent are immunological, causing allergies or hypersensitivity to a particular ingredient. However, if the related symptoms have nothing to do with the immune system, it is a food intolerance which, in turn, can be caused by a metabolic, pharmacological or enzymatic error.
Within this last group, we find some of the most common intolerances in modern society, such as lactose. However, a new condition has emerged strongly among diners: intolerance to fructose, one of the most difficult to palliate in terms of food.
It arises from a deficiency in the performance of enzymes that degrade this type of sugars
In this case, the disease is caused by a deficiency in the action of enzymes that degrade this type of sugars, mostly present in fruits. As explained by the Júlia Farré Nutrition Center, this “occurs when there is an error in the action of the enzyme in charge of degrading it, making it difficult for the intestinal cells to absorb it”. And it will depend “on the amount and concentration ingested and should be assessed individually as its absorption capacity varies from person to person. When undigested fructose reaches the intestine, it reacts with the bacteria that reside there, fermenting and producing various symptoms such as gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea or nausea.
As with all other intolerances, one of the remedies to reduce their impact on the body is to reduce intake to levels that make the signs disappear before exposed. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid eating those fruits that present an excess of fructose, such as dates, dried figs, quince jelly, cherries, plums, apples, pears, blueberries or watermelon.
However, fructose is not exclusive to the fruit family; many other foods include it in their composition, such as wheat, honey, commercial sauces, soft drinks or certain vegetables, such as beetroot, carrots, onions, asparagus, chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes or peppers. Under this premise, what foods can be included in the diet without risking worsening symptoms?
To avoid any unexpected evil, it is advisable to request “a list of foods containing higher proportions of fructose, so you can have an orientation on the type of food that should be dispensed,” say from the Spanish Association of Gastroenterology and the Latin American Societies of Gastroenterology. However, one way for the patient not to constantly monitor food composition is to follow the FODMAP diet, which is widely used by people with irritable bowel syndrome.
This regime consists of eliminating all foods that meet any of these characteristics: fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, polyols and monosaccharides, including fructose. Despite these recommendations, it is also helpful to follow other tips that improve tolerance to this nutrient:
The best fruits, because they have a low fructose content, are banana, strawberry, melon, grape, avocado and certain citrus fruits such as orange, tangerine, lemon or kiwi.
As for vegetables, you can eat chard, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, mushrooms, lettuce, endive and endives. In addition, if we cook them, they lose the little amount of fructose they have, thus improving their tolerance.
Stevia and yacon syrup are two natural sweeteners, fructose free and healthy
“Foods of animal origin – meat, fish, eggs, milk… – can be eaten without problems if they are not processed. Fructose and sorbitol can be added to the processing,” warn the Pediatric Gastroenterology Group in the South-West Zone of Madrid.
The cereals that can be included in the diet are rye, barley, oats, corn, rice and tapioca, as well as products made from them such as flour, bread or Italian pasta.
The beverages allowed by the experts are coffee, infusions, natural cocoa and, of course, water.
The legumes that do not cause any harm to the body are lentils, chickpeas and beans, the latter two in small quantities.
Almonds, hazelnuts, chestnuts, pistachios and walnuts are the nuts with the lowest proportion of fructose.
As we have seen before, commercial sauces are very damaging. Salt, vinegar (not balsamic vinegar), mustard, homemade mayonnaise and spices are harmless.
One of the problems fructose intolerants face is finding a healthy sweetener. Stevia and yacon syrup fulfil their function and are completely natural and free of fructose.