Is It Possible to Be Allergic to Sugar?
Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, milk, eggs, soy, fish, and shellfish are all foods that can cause an allergic reaction and symptoms, such as a stuffy or runny nose, skin redness, rashes or hives, and even anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. Sugar IS NOT among them. While you can’t be allergic to sugar, you can have an intolerance to it. Read on to learn why you can’t be allergic to sugar but how you could have a Sugar Intolerance caused by Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID).
Allergy vs. Intolerance: The Inside Story
If you have a Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID, you may feel like you’re having an allergic reaction to sugar, but that’s not what’s going on. During an allergic reaction to food, such as peanuts or another common food allergen, your immune system misfires and mistakenly recognizes the protein in the food as harmful. Sugar doesn’t contain protein. That’s why you can’t experience a true allergic reaction to sugar, but you can experience an intolerance to sugar.
The gist? To digest foods containing sugar, your body needs two enzymes, sucrase and isomaltase. If you have Sucrose Intolerance caused by CSID, your body doesn’t produce enough of a working form of these enzymes to get the job done.
So, if you have Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID, you can experience symptoms, such as stomach cramps, abdominal pain, gassiness, or watery diarrhea after consuming foods with sugar or starch. The carbohydrates in grains, such as wheat, oats, and rice include sugars, as well as the carbohydrates in starchy vegetables, such as corn, potatoes, and beans. So, these foods may also trigger these gastrointestinal symptoms in people who have Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID.
Symptoms: Sugar Intolerance vs. Food Allergy
Some of the symptoms of a Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID and a food allergy overlap. Both conditions may cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. However, with a food allergy, you’re also likely to experience other symptoms, such as a tingling or itchy mouth; hives; itching or eczema; swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat, or other parts of the body; wheezing, stuffiness, or trouble breathing; and dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.
Not sure if you or a family member has a Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID? Take the quiz* to find out if the symptoms you’re experiencing could be Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID.
Managing Sugar Intolerance Caused by CSID
Like dealing with a food allergy, managing a Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID can be a lot of work. If you’re diagnosed with Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID, you’ll need to avoid foods high in sucrose and possibly foods high in starch as well. Everyone is different. Here’s a list of foods you’ll generally want to avoid if you have a Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID and foods you can generally tolerate.
Work with your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine the best diet for you. From time to time, you may be tempted to eat foods containing sucrose or starch, such as cookies, cake, and pie. Some people can consume a little sucrose or starch and still feel fine, but others cannot. It’s up to you, working with your doctor or a registered dietitian, to make sure your diet helps you feel better and keeps you from having those unpleasant symptoms associated with a Sugar Intolerance caused by CSID.
*This quiz is not a diagnostic.
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