What is the role of fructose intolerance?
Fructose is the sweetest of the sugars and therefore is commonly used as a sweetener in soft drinks, chocolate, syrups, and jams. Its intake in Western diets has increased tenfold in the past 15 years. Fructose is also naturally present in many fruits and vegetables, and in honey. Up to one half of healthy adults have evidence of malabsorption after ingesting 25 g of fructose (10% concentration). Fructose intolerance can cause symptoms similar to those found in IBS; however, the prevalence of fructose malabsorption in IBS is similar to that in healthy individuals and is unlikely to be the cause of IBS in most patients. A fructose-free diet has been suggested to improve IBS symptoms in patients with fructose malabsorption. However, because of methodologic limitations, definitive conclusions cannot be made about the effectiveness of a fructose-free diet in IBS.