You may not be aware of it, but the majority of the foods you eat contain sugar, whether they taste sweet or not. In some cases, sugar is used to enhance flavor, while in other cases it’s used as a sweetener.
With so many sweetened foods on the market, it’s easy to consume more sugar than needed, especially if you have a sweet tooth. For those who want to cut back on their sugar intake, or for those who have a health condition that prevents them from consuming sugar, read these tips and recommendations for switching to a fructose-free diet.
Health Effects Of Sugar
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day while men should take in no more than nine teaspoons a day. But men and women alike usually take in more than 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is way over the limit. Consuming that much sugar each day can lead to health problems such as:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Elevated blood triglycerides
For some people, eating sugar can cause even more serious health risks such as liver damage, kidney failure and possibly death. Those people have a condition known as Hereditary Fructose Intolerance, or HFI, which is caused by a genetic mutation that prohibits their bodies from digesting fructose.
A similarly-related condition, known as fructose malabsorption, causes side effects such as bloating, diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain, and is caused by intestinal cells that cannot absorb fructose.
For those who suffer from these conditions, eliminating fructose isn’t an option, it’s a must. Along with fructose, sucrose and sorbitol should also be eliminated as they can cause similar side effects.
Another sweetener that should also be eliminated is high fructose corn syrup. There’s been a lot of chatter about the health risks versus the benefits of high fructose corn syrup, leaving many people confused as to whether this ingredient is safe to consume or not.
The problem with high fructose corn syrup is actually the corn. In many cases, genetically modified corn is used to make high fructose corn syrup and because there are certain health risks associated with genetically modified foods, it’s best to avoid this ingredient when possible.
Fructose-Free Diet Tips And Recommendations
1) Know What Foods to Avoid
Fructose is a sugar that’s most commonly found in fruits. So for those who need to eliminate fructose from their diet, it’s a given that fruits and fruit juices and going to be the first foods to go. Sugary snacks and desserts should also be crossed off of the list. Sugary drinks like sodas and sports drinks and even sweetened milk also should not be consumed.
But some foods aren’t as obvious. For instance, condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise, and meats like ham and bacon, also need to be eliminated because they contain or are cured with sugar. Breads, salad dressings, most types of crackers, and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes also should not be eaten.
2) Know What Foods Are Safe
Saltines and soda crackers, coffee, tea, chicken, pork, veal, cheese and vegetables such as lettuce and spinach are all OK to consume. If you aren’t sure which foods contain fructose or sucrose or sorbitol, read the ingredient label. If you still feel unsure, don’t buy or eat the product. It’s always better to be safe than to risk your health.
3) Look For Sugar-Free Alternatives
If you’re craving a piece of candy or a bowl of ice cream, find a sugar-free alternative. There are also certain desserts that are made without sugar and are geared toward diabetics, so you may want to keep a look out for those as well the next time you’re at the grocery store.
4) Go Organic
As mentioned, high fructose corn syrup is an ingredient that should be avoided if possible. The problem is, so many foods contain high fructose corn syrup that it’s very tough to avoid. As with plain fructose, it’s best to check the ingredient label on foods that you suspect to contain high fructose corn syrup. Also, look for organic products, which don’t contain high fructose corn syrup.
5) Learn to Make Alternatives
Although those who have HFI or fructose malabsorption generally develop distaste for sweet foods over time, once in a while, the urge to indulge may arise. In that case, you may want to make an alternative of the food you are craving that doesn’t contain sugar or fruit.
- If eating at someone else’s house, don’t be afraid to ask for an alternative beverage or to skip a part of the meal if it contains a food you can’t eat.
- When eating at a restaurant, don’t hesitate to let the server know of your dietary restrictions and ask if the restaurant offers any sugar-free alternatives to its dishes.
Following a fructose-free diet can be challenging, but it can be done with a little discipline and a little effort. As long as you follow these tips and recommendations, you should be fructose free and feeling healthier than you have before.