Dietary fructose intolerance: diet modification can impact self-rated health and symptom control

Nutr Clin Care. Jul-Sep 2004;7(3):92-7.


Carbohydrate intolerance to lactose is widely accepted as a cause of gastrointestinal symptoms, but controversy persists on how important dietary fructose intolerance (DFI) is in causing gastrointestinal pain and suffering and if an elimination diet can control the presenting complaints. The objective of this study was to identify a group of well-defined DFI patients and explore whether dietary education followed by dietary compliance could control symptoms and improve quality of life. During a 5-year period, patients referred to a pancreato-biliary clinic were evaluated for dietary carbohydrate intolerances if they presented with gastrointestinal pain and/or gas and/or bloating and/or diarrhea. Patients were tested with a standardized mixture of glucose, fructose, and lactose diluted in sterile water. End-expiratory breath samples were collected for hydrogen and methane measurement. Symptoms were scored using a 9-point symptom questionnaire. The patients underwent in-depth education by a dietician, and were provided with access to a cookbook, a newsletter, and a support group. A dietary questionnaire was used to evaluate compliance with the fructose-restricted diet. DFI can cause significant gastrointestinal symptoms that may not respond to medications or surgical interventions. Symptoms can improve and self-rated health does improve in DFI patients willing to adhere to a low fructose diet.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diet therapy
  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Breath Tests
  • Diarrhea / diet therapy
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Female
  • Flatulence / diet therapy
  • Flatulence / etiology
  • Fructose / administration & dosage*
  • Fructose / adverse effects
  • Fructose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / diet therapy*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / etiology
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweetening Agents / metabolism


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fructose