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Maldigestion and malabsorption of short-chain carbohydrates namely, fructo-, oligo-, di- and monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs) may also occur. This includes fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and the polyols (including sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol and isomalt.

Symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance include diarrhoea, cramping and flatulence.

Who’s at risk of carbohydrate intolerance?

“Carbohydrate intolerance appears to be more common in individuals who have an underlying functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome,” says Jasly Koo, Dietitian, from the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, a member of the SingHealth group.

How to treat carbohydrate intolerance?

It has been suggested that a low FODMAPs diet may be useful for these individuals as it is hypothesised that FODMAPs are poorly-absorbed in the small intestine, are highly osmotic, and rapidly fermented by the naturally occurring gut bacteria. Hence, following a low FODMAPs diet may reduce symptoms.

It is advisable to seek your doctor’s advice before starting the diet and to embark on the diet only under a dietitian’s supervision to ensure that your child’s diet is well-balanced and meets his/her growth requirements.

Fructose intolerance

Fructose intolerance has also been reported. This is due to our intestines having a limited ability to absorb fructose. Hence, large amounts of fructose can bring about symptoms similar to lactose intolerance.

Tips for treating fructose intolerance

People with fructose intolerance may need to limit or avoid foods containing large amounts of fructose such as pears, apple, mango and watermelon. Avoid consuming large amounts of dried fruits and fruit juices as these are concentrated sources of fructose. Foods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup such as soft drinks and confections (sweets, jam) as well as honey can also bring about symptoms. 

Find out more about food additives and the symptoms they trigger in those with food intolerance.


Ref: N18