Why Do I Have Gastrointestinal Symptoms?
After months of doctor’s visits, tests, and a lot worrying, you finally have the diagnosis for your chronic gastrointestinal symptoms: Sucrose Intolerance caused by Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID).
You also understand that you have these uncomfortable symptoms, such as gas and bloating, abdominal pain, and chronic diarrhea whenever you eat a food that contains sucrose (sugar) or maltose (sugar found in starches) because the dual-function enzyme sucrase-isomaltase in your body isn’t working.
But what you still want to know is: What’s happening in your body to make these gastrointestinal symptoms occur?
The answer lies in first understanding what sucrase-isomaltase does in the body when it is working.
What Does Sucrase-Isomaltase Do?
The sugars sucrose and maltose are complex sugars called disaccharides. Sucrose (table sugar) is often added to processed foods, but is also found in many fruits and vegetables. Maltose is a sugar that is found in many dietary starches.
Before your body can absorb these complex sugars from your gastrointestinal tract, they need to be broken down into simpler sugars, called monosaccharides. That is what sucrase-isomaltase does; it’s a digestive enzyme that breaks complex sugars into simple sugars so they can be absorbed and used by the body as fuel.
One molecule of sucrose is broken down into two molecules, one of glucose and one of fructose. A molecule of maltose is broken down into two molecules of glucose. This process of digestion and absorption takes place in the small intestine.
Both these monosaccharides are absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the liver where fructose is converted to glucose. Glucose is the main carbohydrate used to fuel reactions in the body.
How Can I Prevent Gastrointestinal Symptoms?
Don’t despair, you can treat chronic diarrhea and the other uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms that affect those of you with CSID. One of these treatments is pharmaceutical therapy.
The most obvious way to avoid uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms is to not eat foods that contain the complex sugars sucrose and maltose. But these sugars are present in so many foods, it can be very difficult to eat a diet that is 100 percent sugar-free.
Also, many of these foods provide important calories and nutrients, especially for growing children. A registered dietitian can help you develop a menu plan for eating foods that will not make you sick and will provide you with the nutrients you need to maintain your health or what your child needs to grow into a healthy adult.
When you are unable to derive valuable nutrients from your diet, you may develop malnutrition and a failure to thrive in young children. Choosing Your Foods: A Basic Dietary Guide for People with CSID is an online resource that lists foods you may be able to eat without developing uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms.
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