National Nutrition Month – Sweet Alternatives for Sugar Intolerance
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month focuses on “the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.” For those individuals living with Sucrose Intolerance, also known as Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID), meeting two of those goals can often be a challenge. But a diagnosis of Sucrose Intolerance doesn’t have to mean an end to enjoying healthy choices to satisfy their “sweet tooth.”
So first, let’s look at what Sucrose Intolerance is all about and then check out how those with the deficiency can find healthy, natural alternatives so they can still have those tasty treats without suffering unpleasant consequences.
A Primer on Sucrose Intolerance
Sucrose Intolerance is a rare disorder that limits an individual’s ability to digest certain sugars due to absent or low levels of two digestive enzymes, sucrase and isomaltase. Sucrase is the enzyme that aids in the breakdown of sucrose (table sugar) into glucose and fructose, which are used by the body as fuel. Isomaltase is one of several enzymes that help digest starches.
Sucrose Intolerance Symptoms
When people with Sucrose Intolerance consume sucrose, they develop gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, gas, and stomach pain. These symptoms can occur regardless of whether the sucrose is of high nutritional quality, like that found in bananas, or the sugar found in donuts and cookies. Sucrose is often added to processed foods like candy, ice cream, and cereals. It also occurs naturally in vegetables and fruits like carrots, corn, pineapple, and apples.
Healthy “Sweet” Alternatives for Those Who Might Have Sucrose Intolerance
The natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are broken down by the body into two groups: monosaccharides – simple sugars that include glucose, fructose, and galactose, and disaccharides – two sugar molecules linked together, such as sucrose and maltose. Those who have Sucrose Intolerance need to avoid sucrose and maltose, which means they need to avoid sugar and some carbohydrates.
But they are often pleasantly surprised to learn they can safely consume many fruits. Berries, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, along with grapes, pears, kiwi, and cherries are well-tolerated by most individuals with Sucrose Intolerance. These healthy, fresh fruits quickly satisfy a sugar craving while delivering a healthy dose of carbohydrates and fiber for energy.
Other “sweet” treats an individual with Sucrose Intolerance can enjoy are yogurt sweetened with dextrose and yogurt sweetened with fructose, both natural sugars.
So, for an individual with Sucrose Intolerance to make informed food choices and develop sound eating habits – two goals of National Nutrition Month – it’s important to pay attention to food labels. If brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, sucrose, maltodextrin, maple syrup, modified tapioca starch, or molasses are listed, the food likely contains sucrose or maltose and should be avoided.
During National Nutrition Month and beyond, a diagnosis of Sucrose Intolerance doesn’t have to mean an end to sweet foods. It simply requires a bit of smart planning. To learn more about Sucrose Intolerance, visit sucroseintolerance.com.
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