Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
Gut symptoms are unique and vary from individual to individual. Hence, there is no specific diet as the lifestyle and eating habits of people vary. Although sugar is a vital part of our diet, it might make you sucrose intolerant if you suffer from gut issues.
Present lifestyle and our dependence on fast foods have led to several gut issues, including CSID or Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency. Research shows that over a third of people with diarrhea and IBS might have sucrose intolerance. The question here arises, what is the best diet for sucrose intolerance? Will the diet help with this gut problem? Let’s get into the details.
Sucrose Intolerance: Meaning and Symptoms
Sucrose intolerance can be genetic or acquired in the later phase of life. Generally, it develops due to the gut damage caused by IBS(irritable bowel syndrome), SIBO(small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), celiac disease, or other digestive disorders. It usually happens when there isn’t enough sucrase enzyme to digest the sugar-content food.
It is this undigested sucrose that develops symptoms like:
- Stinky gas
- Bloating and abdominal pain
- Diarrhea just after having meals, etc.
Generally, there is an overlap of symptoms in sucrose intolerance and other gastrointestinal issues. Hence, it is crucial to consult a healthcare practitioner before starting the diet for sucrose intolerance.
Everything You Need to Know About Sucrose Intolerance Diet
Before jumping into the sucrose intolerance diet, one needs to follow precise steps to obtain genuine benefits of such a diet.
- Identify and swap out the usual foods containing sucrose
Sucrose is table sugar obtained from sugarcane. It is one of the common ingredients in processed and packaged food items, like spaghetti sauce, ketchup, yogurts, etc. It is also found in fruits. However, some fruits are low in sucrose, while some are high.
Sucrose intolerant persons have a low threshold of tolerating sugar. For instance, although strawberries have low sucrose content per serving, having too much of it can make them difficult to digest.
Once you identify the sucrose-containing foods, swap them with those containing lower levels of sucrose. In other words, switch apples (high-sucrose) with pears (low-sucrose), raisins (high sucrose) with cherries (low sucrose), etc. One needs to follow the diet for sucrose intolerance for 4-5 weeks or till the symptoms alleviate.
- Choose foods for sucrose-intolerance
Here are some food suitable for those with sugar intolerance:
Fruits like blackberries, blueberries, gooseberries, cherries, cranberries, cherries, olives, papaya, pears, kiwifruit, limes, lemons, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranates, etc., have low sucrose content. However, few people can still tolerate high-sucrose fruits like apples, mango, orange, peach, banana, and apricot if consumed in limited quantities.
Low sucrose-containing vegetables include bamboo shoots, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels, radish, green beans, spinach, mushrooms, eggplant, cucumber, zucchini, turnips, lettuce, celery, asparagus, etc.
High-fiber-containing carbohydrates slow down digestion and are more tolerable than processed carbohydrates. One must switch to whole-grain bread and cereals like bran, oats, and barley. Sucrose intolerant people should opt for quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, wild rice, lentils, etc. Avoid processed grains as they may contain added sugars. Moreover, one must read the food label carefully before purchasing.
People suffering from CSID can consume dairy products like cow’s milk, sour cream, butter, ricotta cheese, whipping cream, plain cottage cheese, and hard cheeses. However, processed cheese may contain sucrose and should be avoided.
- Meat and other protein sources
It includes plain meat or protein sources like fish, pork, beef, turkey, eggs, chicken, and lamb. One must avoid processed meat products like sausage, liverwurst, bacon, and luncheon meat as it gets treated with sucrose and starch fillers. Nut and nut-based butter also add calories to your diet and are ideal for sucrose intolerance.
- Track your meals and the symptoms
When following the diet for sucrose intolerance, it is crucial to track the meals and how it impacts your symptoms. If there isn’t any improvement, a more careful and precise examination of food is essential. Many medications, cough drops, condiments, and chewing gums contain added sugar, which can worsen sugar intolerance symptoms.
Additional Points for Sucrose Intolerance Diet
Even if you follow the best diet for sucrose intolerance, follow these steps for better results:
- Chew properly
Avoid multitasking when having a meal. One should give proper time and chew the food slowly and thoroughly. Chewing is the first step of digestion, as enzymes present in the mouth start the digestion process. Properly-chewed food gets absorbed easily as enzymes in the abdomen work efficiently on smaller food particles.
- Consider this sample low-sucrose menu:
Scrambled eggs, coffee with milk, and blueberries
Seltzer water and grilled chicken on an avocado salad, salsa, and sour cream
Celery with unsweetened peanut butter, unsweetened iced tea, and strawberries
Baked fish with lemon and butter, mashed cauliflower, sauteed spinach
Benefits of Sucrose Intolerance Diet
Reducing sugar intake or switching to a sucrose intolerance diet has the following benefits:
- According to “Dietary Management of Obesity: Cornerstones of Healthy Eating Patterns,” published in the journal Medical Clinics of North America, reducing sugar intake helps prevent obesity and loss of weight.
- A study shows that a sucrose intolerance diet prevents mood shifts. The study linked the changing mood states with the high sugar diet.
- One may finally ease the symptoms of CSID with the sugar intolerance diet. Hence, it helps eliminate bloating and prevent diarrhea.
Choosing a sucrose intolerance diet has several benefits. However, eliminating sugar entirely from the diet is also not recommended. One must include it in low or limited quantities once the symptoms normalize. Moreover, consulting a dietician or registered practitioner is a better option to prevent any further health issues when switching to a particular diet.
Burkhart, A. (2021, May 14). The Sucrose Intolerance Diet: How To Get Started. The Celiac MD. https://theceliacmd.com/the-sucrose-intolerance-diet/
csidcares.org. (2017, February 10). Choosing Your Foods. CSID Cares. https://www.csidcares.org/treatment/diet/
Johnson, J. (2019, December 13). What to know about no-sugar diets. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319991#summary