Carbohydrate Intolerance and Its Symptoms
What’s up with Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are everywhere! They can be found in foods like grains, milk, fruits, and even vegetables. Carbohydrates are made up of sugars, starches, and/or fiber.
Many different types of sugars occur naturally in foods, or are added to food products. For example, refined grains can contain the simple sugars such as sucrose or glucose, while fruits contain sugars like fructose and sucrose.
When sugar is added to a food item, it can be added in the form of cane sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or other forms of sugar. Many foods contain a variety of sugar molecules, whether they are naturally occurring or added.
Simple sugars, called “monosaccharides,” can easily be absorbed through the intestinal wall. But larger, complex sugar molecules, known as “disaccharides” and “polysaccharides” need the help of enzymes in order to be digested into monosaccharides that can be absorbed.
Carbohydrate digestion begins in your mouth, because saliva contains the enzymes necessary to initiate the dismantling of complex carbohydrates. Once food enters the small intestine, another team of enzymes continues the process of carbohydrate digestion. Some carbohydrates, like fiber, actually need the help of the bacteria that live in your colon in order to be digested.
If you have a carbohydrate intolerance, you are unable to break down specific types of sugar molecules found in foods.
What Are the Types of Carbohydrate Intolerance?
If you have a dairy intolerance, commonly referred to as lactose intolerance, you are unable to digest the milk sugar molecule lactose. If you have an intolerance to most fruits, your body may have difficulty digesting the sugar molecule fructose. If you are not be able to tolerate foods containing the sugar called sucrose, you may be diagnosed with Sucrose Intolerance caused by Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID).
What Are the Symptoms of Carbohydrate Intolerance?
If your body is missing any of the necessary enzymes for carbohydrate digestion, you may experience carbohydrate intolerance symptoms, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. If you have lactose intolerance, you may experience gas and bloating after eating dairy products, while someone with Sucrose Intolerance caused by CSID may experience chronic diarrhea, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain after eating foods containing sucrose. The severity of the symptoms can range from person to person and the amount of the sugar-containing foods they consume.
Visit Your Doctor
If you have the symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance, you should speak with your physician to identify the true root of your symptoms. Then, working with your healthcare provider and a registered dietitian, you can begin a plan to address your disorder.
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