Is fructose malabsorption the same as fructose intolerance?

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Patsy Catsos
Nutrition & Dietetics
No. If your small intestine doesn't completely absorb all the fructose in your meal, we call that fructose malabsorption (FM). If that malabsorbed fructose causes you to have uncomfortable or painful symptoms like bloating, flatulence, or diarrhea, we call that collection of symptoms dietary fructose intolerance. Not everyone with fructose malabsorption experiences fructose intolerance, so the two terms should not be used interchangeably.

Although both conditions are treated with a fructose-free diet, fructose malabsorption and fructose intolerance are two different diseases. Fructose intolerance is an inherited condition in which the body lacks the enzyme to process fructose. Fructose malabsorption is when the body does not process fructose efficiently; fructose malabsorption symptoms are similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome. People with fructose malabsorption can eat or drink small amounts of fructose without severe symptoms; people with fructose intolerance, on the other hand, should avoid all fructose.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.