Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fructose Malabsorption

The diet was coming along well, everyone in the family was improving (including poor Brian who was just put on special diet, too), but our bodies were not satisfied. No, our genes demanded more.

We cannot be normal; of course not. Our bodies must be unique, different, special!

Our bodies must be a pain in the ass.

Dang it, dang it, dang it. We were doing so well, really we were, and then the kids started having problems. So I got on the research train again and found another food issue to explore: Fructose malabsorption. Oh joy.

Now, this is NOT a fruit thing. Yes, fructose is in fruit, but it's also in grains and vegetables and legumes and the entire darn edible world, essentially. Except meat. Carnivores everywhere rejoice, I'm sure.

The real issue for this condition is the ratio between fructose and glucose. Higher percentage of fructose compared to glucose, higher likelihood your life is gonna suck like a hoover for the next few days. The medical sites all discuss the 'gut' symptoms of this. That's their concern.

The parents whose kids have this? The majority I've read about didn't really notice the gut symptoms at first. They all discuss the fact that fructose malabsorption made their children lose their freaking minds. It changes the children's behavior to such an extent that the parents are contemplating infanticide just to get one, drama-free moment in their day.

And why is that?

When a person doesn't digest the majority of the fructose they consume, it moves happily on down the gut, and its presence interferes with the absorption of tryptophan. Since your body needs this to make serotonin and melatonin, you'll be short on these two for a day or so after you get too much fructose. And you will feel like crap as a result.

I am right there with all the parents. I wasn't noticing any gut issues, but the mood issues were through the roof! Nearly every time my kids had a lot of fruit, or coconut, or broccoli, or agave syrup, or honey - life exploded. And then there'd be times they'd lose their minds for no reason I could figure out. It's truly hard to describe how I can tell it's not just a normal 'bad day,' but there is an intensity, and an inability to regain control, that always goes along with this.

It's like pure angst has been poured into their veins and is bleeding out the pores.

Every tiny little thing sets them off. They wake up in a foul mood and stay that way for the rest of the day. Angry outbursts, huge bouts of weeping, no frustration tolerance, ADHD-like symptoms, difficulty sleeping. And then a day or two later, and it's gone.

It was happening so often, and from so many foods, that I was tearing out my hair trying to figure it out.

But then I happened across Fructose Malabsorption (dietary, not inherited), and woah baby does it fit the bill.

Lots of the kids' outbursts correlated to foods on bad list for this condition. And to add to the likelihood of their having it, in studies, 30-40% of people with any gut symptoms test positive for this. And celiac disease and food intolerances are considered possible causes for this, although the study results on that are more correlation than causation, at the moment.

In Australia, it's on the 'automatic test for this' list when people come in with gut symptoms. And here in the States...I've never heard of this in my life. Doctors don't usually even consider it. In fact, I was just reading from a FructMal gal and there is only one lab in her entire state that will do this test.

Once again, I'm so proud of my country's medical community. It brings a tear to my eye. Literally.

So, guess what we have to add to our list of things to consider?

This Diet

So far, my kids seem like they have mild levels of fructose malabsorption, with my son reacting more than my daughter. But now that I'm aware of what has too much fructose and what doesn't, and have been attempting to adjust the diet accordingly, things have been SO much better.

I swear, I might as well become a Dietician at this rate, I have to find out so much about food and nutrition!

For anyone interested in this condition, here's a few good links:
Fructose Malabsorption Yahoo Group - This group is Australia based, but has some great resources, research, and information, especially for parents!

Fruct Mal Blogger - This gal is great. She's had this condition for years, long before the medical community had identified it, so she has a lot of information and personal experience.

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