Well, here’s another thing our kids can’t tolerate. What’s next- air? Isn’t anybody asking the question why? Why can’t our kids tolerate fructose? Or gluten? Why can’t our kids handle dairy? Why are our kids allergic to peanuts, eggs, corn and soy more than ever in recorded history?
Some will offer the usual evasive answer that we just didn’t diagnose this as much before. But most scientists agree that these food intolerances and allergies are way up and continuing to grow. So what’s going on?
Well this article and study provide a perfect example to illustrate the underlying problem in food sensitivities today. In this case, fructose is not being metabolized fully and leading to digestion symptoms like gas and abdominal cramping. So the first step we need to take to understand why this is happening, is to understand what fructose is, and where it comes from. From there we need to examine how it is metabolized and what can get in the way of this process.
Fructose is a natural simple sugar found in fruits and some vegetables. It is mostly absorbed in the small intestine, but for some people, fructose may not be fully metabolized until it reaches the large intestine. There it can be affected by yeast and other gut flora and may not be completely digested and result in gas and diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
In the past, most fructose was consumed in a natural state, like fruit, where it was accompanied by other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients, which help the body break down the sugar more easily and completely. But today, with the over use of products like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), we ingest fructose as an isolated sugar, without the natural accompaniments of nutrients, and as a result the body is not as able to metabolize it fully. Also, certain gut bacteria aid in the digestion of fructose (like many other sugars and compounds), and if this bacteria are deficient, malabsorption can occur.
Over the past few decades, with the advent of HFCS and other forms of isolated fructose (think fruit bars and pasteurized juices), the body no longer consumes fructose in the natural, nutrient-packed way it used to. Combined with the fact that most of us are very deficient in healthy gut flora, due to over-use of antibiotics and a nutrient-deprived diet, and you have the perfect storm for metabolic problems.
For some, the answer may be as simple as avoiding HFCS and fructose in an isolated form and only eating it in its natural state of fresh fruits and vegetables. For others, taking probiotics and eating more healthy bacteria like yogurt could help. Unfortunately, many kids are now probably inheriting a defect for metabolizing fructose (same as gluten, eggs, etc) due to previous generations’ over-consumption, and may have to avoid fructose altogether even in the natural version of fruit.
The best plan of attack in this scenario is to first eliminate all fructose from your child’s diet (yes a tough task). See if this improves the digestive problems. If it does, then start first to rebuild their gut flora by taking probiotics. After a week or two on probiotics and no fructose, then slowly introduce natural fruits in small amounts, very small amounts. Build up over time to see how much they can tolerate.
Of course you will need to continue to avoid isolated fructose such as HFCS, and hopefully in time, the child should be able to enjoy fresh fruit without too much trouble.