It is the inability of the body to completely process carbohydrates (sugars and starches) due to lack or inadequate amount of one or more of the enzymes needed for their digestion. Lactose Intolerance is the most common one but the inability to break down starch is also common. There is a dedicated section for lactose intolerance. Read More »»
Carbohydrate intolerance also plays part in obese people, where the inability to process carbohydrates properly leads to decreased level of fitness and increased metabolic disorders due to accumulation of fat around the muscles. More information and how to treat is down here.
Similar to the fuel of a car, carbohydrates are the primary source of energy. They are also one of the three major nutrients in the human diet. The other two being fat and proteins. There are three type of carbohydrates, classified according to their structure, monosaccharides - based on one unit of sugar such as glucose and fructose, disaccharides - two units of sugars joined together such as lactose, and polysaccharides - a complex carbohydrate with many units joined together as in starch and glycogen, see figure on the right.
Causes & symptoms
Monosaccharides can easily go through the wall of the small intestine, but anything bigger needs to be broken down by enzymes. Digestive enzymes simply break down the linkages between the joined sugars into simpler sugars. Amylase produced by the saliva breaks down starch (found in cooked rice and potatoes) into disaccharides. Once ingested other enzymes in the stomach or small intestine break them down into monosaccharides to be readily absorbed through the small intestine. Other disaccharides, such as lactose (the sugar found in milk) is broken down by lactase, sucrose (in cane sugar) is broken down by sucrase while maltose (in grains) is broken down by maltase. Lack or inadequate amount of the required enzyme will leave the disaccharides and polysaccharides in the digestive system causing symptoms of food intolerance.
The severity of the symptoms depends on the extent of the enzyme deficiency, and range from a feeling of mild bloating to severe diarrhoea. Undigested sugars remain in the intestine, which is then fermented by the bacteria normally present in the large intestine. These bacteria produce gas, cramping, bloating, a "gurgly" feeling in the abdomen, and flatulence. The distress normally begins about 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods containing the offending sugar, such as lactose in the case of lactose intolerance. Food intolerance can be confused with food allergies, since the symptoms of nausea, cramps, bloating, and diarrhoea are similar.
Sugars that aren't broken down into one of the simplest forms cause the body to push fluid into the intestines, which results in watery diarrhoea (osmotic diarrhoea). Diarrhoea may sweep other nutrients out of the intestine before they can be absorbed, causing malnutrition.
Treatment and Cure
There is no cure for carbohydrate intolerance yet and the only way to avoid symptoms is by abstaining form the offending sugar. This can prove very difficult and frustrating since so much food contains one or other hidden carbohydrate. Alternatively one can take commercially available digestive enzymes which help break down the sugars and hence avoiding the symptoms.
FoodReactions.org has available what probably are the most effective and reliable digestive enzymes, being produced in United Kingdom and shipped worldwide. They are extracted from plants and are suitable for vegans. Check the 'products' section for all products available but a table below helps you choose the right product especially prepared for carbohydrate intolerance. One may take a combination of two as well.
|List of products for carbohydrate intolerance|
|Lactase Liquid||lactase: to make lactose free milk||for lactose intolerance, ideal if you want to drink milk, or with tea/coffee or with cereals|
lactase - for lactose
|most suitable product for lactose intolerance, also highly recommended for IBS and milk allergy|
amylase and cellulase - for the complete break down of starch
best product for those who suffer symptoms when eating food with high starch content such as potatoes, rice etc.
|Polyzyme Forte||lactase - for lactose
amylase - for starches
cellulase - for starches
bromelain - for proteins
lipase - for fats
maltase - for maltose
sucrase - for sucrose
|a must for obese persons who believe are not digesting carbohydrates properly. A collection of enzymes that cover all types of sugars that may cause intolerance symptoms|
Studies have shown that Carbohydrate Intolerance plays part in obese people. Moreover it was also found that obese men may not process carbohydrates as efficiently as obese women, a condition that can, ultimately, lead to a decrease in fitness level and the development of metabolic disorders. This is why obese people may significantly benefit from the digestive enzymes as listed above.
A new study published in the CHEST, a journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), showed that severely obese men were more carbohydrate intolerant and had less physical endurance than severely obese women, leading researchers to believe that gender plays a strong role in physical fitness and a person's ability to metabolise carbohydrates.
“Carbohydrate intolerance, the inability to metabolise sugar found in carbohydrates, may lead to a build-up of fat deposits on muscle tissue, which can cause a person to gain weight and, eventually, impair physical endurance,” said study co-author Emile F. L. Dubois, MD, PhD, FCCP, Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Hospital Reinier de Graaf Groep, Delft-Voorburg, Netherlands.
“It appears that carbohydrate intolerance is more common in obese men, which would cause them to be less physically fit than obese women.” Researchers also assessed patients for carbohydrate intolerance, according to American Diabetes Society Guidelines. 59 percent of men had overt diabetes or were carbohydrate intolerant, as compared to 35 percent of women. Researchers note that patients with carbohydrate intolerance usually suffer from metabolic syndrome, a group of medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, that can lead to cardiovascular disease.