If you have any type of regular stomach pain, diarrhea, gassiness or some combination of these symptoms, then you probably have already been tested for lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance, a type of sugar intolerance, affects up to 25% of the US population. Fortunately, patients with lactose intolerance may get stomach relief by either avoiding dairy products in their diet or by taking lactose digesting supplements that can help to digest dairy products.
So what happens if you have stomach problems, have been seen by your doctor, and lactose intolerance has been ruled out?
There are other types of lesser known sugar intolerances which can have similar symptoms as lactose intolerance. One type of sugar intolerance involves sucrose, also known as table sugar, and is called sucrose intolerance or Genetic Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency. Fortunately, the percentage of Americans with Genetic Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency, or GSID, is much lower than those with lactose intolerance.
If you think you have GSID, you could try to avoid table sugar. Many patients with GSID should also stay away from eating starches, such as breads and rice, because the protein in the body that digests table sugar is also involved in digesting starches. Avoiding these foods becomes challenging for the typical American who consumes about 51% of their calories in the form of carbohydrates, with about 30% of the carbohydrate calories coming from sucrose and about 60% from starch.
Because GSID occurs in fewer people, GSID awareness is lower than lactose intolerance. To see if you have GSID you would need the help of your physician, preferably a gastroenterologist. A gastroenterologist is a doctor specializing in diseases and conditions of the gut.
Keep in mind that if you are an adult, sucrose intolerance is not something the typical doctor will look for. The reason it is difficult to diagnose in adults is that GSID is thought to be a disease diagnosed in childhood. What the medical community is learning is that GSID does not look the same in all GSID patients. Some patients may have severe stomach pain or diarrhea, while others might have milder symptoms. This is important because these GSID symptoms look different than the “classic” look of GSID. Because of the low GSID awareness and the lack of understanding that there is no “typical” GSID patient, your sucrose intolerance could go undiagnosed for years and may not be diagnosed even as an adult. However, you can help your doctor to determine if you have GSID by sharing this and other information on sucrose intolerance.