Are you having stomach pains and diarrhea and cannot seem to get any relief? Sometimes it is hard to figure out what is going on. You may need to look at your diet.
For example, patients with lactose intolerance (cannot digest milk and other products made with the sugar, lactose) typically have diarrhea, cramps and/or gas after eating anything made with lactose. The way to manage this condition is to eliminate lactose. Alternatively, people who eat lactose products but also take over-the-counter lactase, which is the enzyme that digests lactose, can minimize their symptoms.
Similarly, if you have any type of gluten sensitivity, you may try to avoid gluten. Avoiding gluten can be more difficult but with increased awareness of gluten sensitivity, many food manufacturers have appropriately labeled food so you can readily tell if it contains gluten.
So what happens if you think you have a sucrose intolerance? People with sucrose intolerance have a condition called Genetic Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (GSID). What clinicians are finding out is that GSID, once thought to be a rare condition, affects a larger number of individuals than previously believed.
People with GSID cannot digest sucrose, also known as table sugar. The typical American consumes about 60% of their calories in the form of carbohydrates, or sugars and starches, with about 30% of the carbohydrate calories coming from sucrose and about 60% from starch.1 Trying to avoid sucrose is difficult and even someone’s best effort to avoid sucrose will likely come up short.
Some clinicians recommend an elimination diet, like the FODMAP diet, to help patients with undiagnosed and recurring stomach problems. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. FODMAP foods represent certain types of foods that contain a variety of sugars and grains. The purpose of the FODMAP diet is to eliminate many types of foods and then add back a FODMAP food, one at a time, to determine if the food is the cause of your stomach problems. While the FODMAP diet does a good job in eliminating many types of sugars, it does not eliminate all sources of sucrose. Therefore, if you have GSID, the FODMAP diet will not help you.
GSID symptoms are similar to many other gastrointestinal problems, which makes it hard for even experienced physicians to diagnose. Some people with GSID may have diarrhea and some may have stomach pain, while others may have both or even completely different gastrointestinal symptoms.
If you think you may have GSID, then it is recommended to seek a gastroenterologist who is knowledgeable about GSID and knows how to appropriately diagnose it. Your doctor can tell you if you have GSID and can work with you to help best manage your condition.
1Treem, W. Clinical aspects and treatment of congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency. JPGN.2012;55 (Suppl 2):S7-S13. #💩