For many people, consuming sugar doesn’t seem to have a negative effect or make them ill. However the increased weight, the danger of diabetes and other related illnesses spell out a different story. For others, (the lucky ones) sugar can cause an immediate and sometimes profound range of symptoms suggestive of an allergy.
In most cases, what the person experiences is sugar intolerance or sugar overload. Even though the symptoms may be similar to a food allergy, the underlying mechanisms are quite different.
Intolerance vs. Allergy
In general, when you ingest food that you’re allergic to, your immune system identifies that substance as a harmful nourishment. Alarm bells go off in your immune system, and it reacts by producing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The antibodies travel to cells in the body and trigger an allergic reaction.
By contrast, food intolerance occurs when you are unable to break down certain foods in your digestive system. This may be due to a few different factors, including enzyme deficiencies or sensitivities to specific chemicals or additives in the food.
Another big difference between an allergic reaction and intolerance is that a person with the intolerance may be able to consume small bits of a problematic food without a negative response. As opposed to the person with the allergy that can’t consume any of whatever they are allergic to.
Although some studies have suggested that sugar allergies are possible, there has been no evidence of sugar-specific IgE severe allergy-like attacks. Sugar seems to enter the body as a friendly substance making you feel warm and happy and slowly tears down your body day after day making you fatter and fatter and experiencing a multitude of problems like headaches, irritability, panic attacks, depression, exhaustion, etc. until you fall prey to the results such much terminal issues like diabetes, heart complications and strokes to name a few.
It’s hard to escape sugar—it’s in a lot of the foods that you probably eat on a daily basis, with the obvious being foods like fruit, desserts, sodas, pastries, ice cream, and dairy products. But you may not be aware that it’s also an ingredient in many other favorite foods like sports drinks, cereals, bottled condiments, salad dressings, and more. In actuality sugar is in over 85% of all food manufactured today whether it’s sweet or sour.
Complex carbohydrates act as one type of fuel source for the body’s cells, so it plays a significant role in providing your body with energy, however simple sugars imitate such role temporarily. Sugars are carbohydrates some complex and some not, and there are several forms of sugar, including:
Fructose, which is a naturally occurring sugar found in fruits, high carbohydrate vegetables, and honey.
Glucose is a crucial source of energy for the body and requires insulin to utilize it.
Galactose, which is a sugar present in dairy products.
Sucrose, also known as “table sugar,” is a combination of glucose and fructose, and it comes from plants like sugarcane and beets.
Lactose, a sugar found in dairy products, is comprised of glucose and galactose.
Maltose is formed when two glucose molecules are joined together, and it primarily occurs in grains like malt.
Xylose comes from wood or straw, and it undergoes an enzymatic process to convert it to the sugar substitute we know as xylitol.
Of the possible causes of sugar intolerance, fructose and lactose are considered the most likely culprits.
There is even evidence that fructans, a carbohydrate composed of chains of fructose, may be the real cause of non-celiac gluten intolerance given that they are found in high concentration in wheat and rye.4
The symptoms of sugar intolerance vary widely among people. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
- Changes in bowel habits like diarrhea
- Uncomfortable abdominal bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Congested nasal passages
- Hives, swelling of the skin, or an itchy rash-like eczema
Other symptoms that have been linked to sugar intolerances include:
- A tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth
- Abnormal swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, face, or other parts of the body
- Difficulty breathing
- Lightheadedness or Dizziness
- Fainting episodes
Many people can manage a sugar intolerance by changing their diet, avoiding sugar, or significantly reducing its intake. To identify which types of sugar are problematic, you may want to keep a food diary so that you can track the foods you eat and identify how they make you feel.
If you know you have an adverse reaction to sugar but can’t pinpoint a source, you may need to avoid it altogether.
©Copyright – Hector Sectzer