Adding glucose to food and solutions to enhance fructose absorption is not effective in preventing fructose-induced functional gastrointestinal symptoms: randomised controlled trials in patients with fructose malabsorption

C. J. Tuck, L. A. Ross, P. R. Gibson, J. S. Barrett, J. G. Muir

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Background: In healthy individuals, the absorption of fructose in excess of glucose in solution is enhanced by the addition of glucose. The present study aimed to assess the effects of glucose addition to fructose or fructans on absorption patterns and genesis of gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with functional bowel disorders. Methods: Randomised, blinded, cross-over studies were performed in healthy subjects and functional bowel disorder patients with fructose malabsorption. The area-under-the-curve (AUC) was determined for breath hydrogen and symptom responses to: (i) six sugar solutions (fructose in solution) (glucose; sucrose; fructose; fructose + glucose; fructan; fructan + glucose) and (ii) whole foods (fructose in foods) containing fructose in excess of glucose given with and without additional glucose. Intake of fermentable short chain carbohydrates (FODMAPs; fermentable, oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols) was controlled. Results: For the fructose in solution study, in 26 patients with functional bowel disorders, breath hydrogen was reduced after glucose was added to fructose compared to fructose alone [mean (SD) AUC 92 (107) versus 859 (980) ppm 4 h–1, respectively; P = 0.034). Glucose had no effect on breath hydrogen response to fructans (P = 1.000). The six healthy controls showed breath hydrogen patterns similar to those with functional bowel disorders. No differences in symptoms were experienced with the addition of glucose, except more nausea when glucose was added to fructose (P = 0.049). In the fructose in foods study, glucose addition to whole foods containing fructose in excess of glucose in nine patients with functional bowel disorders and nine healthy controls had no significant effect on breath hydrogen production or symptom response. Conclusions: The absence of a favourable response on symptoms does not support the concomitant intake of glucose with foods high in either fructose or fructans in patients with functional bowel disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-82
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • food intolerance
  • fructose
  • functional bowel disorders
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • malabsorption

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