Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fructose Malabsorption - Extreme Pain after Drinking Apple Juice or Eating Dried Fruit

I discovered a name for a malady I have, and it is not too rare to have some problems with the foods that cause it, but most people do not have this malady to the extent where it causes the pain that it causes me. 

The name for this illness is “fructose malabsorption” (not hereditary fructose intolerance – a SERIOUS disease), but just the inability of the small intestine to absorb much fructose.  It causes a quick buildup of fructose in the entire intestine.  No wonder the cramping felt like something deep inside me that radiated all over my middle! 

(I don’t need the next quote marks, because it will be obvious I am quoting WIKI.)  “The physiological consequences of fructose malabsorption include increased osmotic load, rapid bacterial fermentation, altered gastrointestinal motility, the formation of mucosal biofilm and altered profile of bacteria.”  So I am not making it up!  

For years I noticed I could not eat more than a few cherries without debilitating cramping coming from somewhere deep inside me.  I would occasionally have the same problem when drinking apple juice – ¼ of a glass could bring on weird symptoms where I hurt inside from my clavicle to my back to my stomach.  A couple of times I thought perhaps I should go to the hospital.  Other fruits would slightly bother me, but about three weeks ago at work, just a few pieces of dried pineapple sent my whole “trunk” area into spasms of pain, and I wanted to crawl to the bathroom – just as an animal will go hide when they are in pain, that is what I wanted to do.  I managed to walk to the bathroom and wait for the pain to go away.  I thought this was serious - maybe my kidneys were shutting down!  But the pain subsided, and realized it was time to Google my symptoms.

It was difficult to describe what this pain felt like, but I Googled something like “pain stomach drinking apple juice” and found a few other people describing this strange, very painful cramping that happens to them, and asking, “What is this?!!”  Most of the responders did not know what it was and offered “cleanses and pseudoscience,” but finally I found enough people agreeing that it was fructose malabsorption.  Sprinkled on the pages were people claiming they had fructose malabsorption, when all they had was gas, which really muddies the page and makes it more difficult to find other people with the same symptoms!  If you have fructose malabsorption, you definitely know there is a huge difference between it and “just gas!”  Also muddying the information are the pages with varied foods to avoid. 

Yes, the remedies are all dietary.  At the most extreme, they say to follow the FODMAP diet.  If you have ever looked that up, you will wonder how the followers on a FODMAP diet survive!  There are very few foods allowed.  I decided I would pass on that, and just avoid apples (which mostly give me headaches and jaw and neck pains – and which never stopped me from eating several of them in one day), apple juice and cider, drink smaller amounts of orange juice (safer fruit), have no dried fruits except a small amount of blueberries or raisins, no cherries and watch my consumption of artichokes, asparagus, and all of the “itol” chemicals such as sorbitol, manitol, and xylitol, which somehow make the fructose malabsorption worse.

It’s a “cruel joke” that a vegan who absolutely loves apple juice and apple cider and fruits has to eliminate some of them and just have small amounts of others.  I even am watching my “high fructose corn syrup” amounts.  Something I never worried about. Glucose is just fine, but a high fructose to glucose ratio is something I need to avoid.  

Further, what cruel irony that I used to tease all the people claiming they needed a gluten-free diet because they wanted some special malady - and then I come down with a special malady!

And lastly, what a cruel shame that my brother has an apple orchard and makes the best apple cider ever, and apple cider is something that may bring on the cramping for me.  I guarantee, I will still drink small amounts of that deliciousness, and risk the attack! 

I’m not going to make a big deal about this and I really think I just need to eliminate a few foods.  I will learn by trial and error!  My experiences with fructose malabsorption are written here so that someone else searching for a fellow sufferer will learn the name of what he/she is experiencing! 

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