First For Women
Sucrose intolerance causing epidemic of female fatigue
Sucrose intolerance affects up to 900% more women than experts thought. It occurs due to deficits in sucrase, an enzyme that digests sucrose, says Will Bulsiewicz, M.D., author of The Fiber Fueled Cookbook.
“This causes the sugar to ferment in the intestines, triggering gas, bloat, diarrhea and fatigue.“Doctors once believed the condition was strictly congenital, but gut damage due to infection and illness can also cause it.
Complicating matters: Women with the condition can also be deficient in
isomaltase, an enzyme that breaks down starch. This increases fermentation of starchy carbs in the gut, worsening symptoms.
Doctors can ID sucrose intolerance with breath tests. While the prescription enzyme replacement sacrosidase
(brand name Sucraid) can ease symptoms, insurance doesn’t always cover it. Luckily, the steps below can help.
Cutting back on sucrose is key, says Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D. She advises avoiding all sugar and foods naturally high in sucrose, like apples, bananas, raisins and sweet potatoes. Instead, enjoy lower-sucrose options, like blueberries, grapes and avocado. (For more details, search ‘low sucrose diet’ at UWHealth.org.) Also smart: Cut back on starchy foods, and when you do indulge, chew thoroughly to up the production of saliva, which is high in a starch-digesting enzyme.
Supplements can help. The probiotic yeast S. boulardii has been shown to aid in sucrose breakdown. Gittleman advises taking 500 mg. per day. (Try: Florastor Daily Probiotic.) And Lauren Denville, NMD, of Nature Cure Family Health in Tucson, suggests taking a broad-spectrum enzyme, like Integrative Therapeutics Similase (Walmart.com), daily.