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Sucrose Intolerance and Sucrosemia 

Sweet Bon Bons: Courtesy Freepik.

Sugary Bon Bons: Courtesy Freepik.

What Is Sucrose Intolerance And Sucrosemia?

Sucrose intolerance is the inability to digest sucrose, a widely available sugar, while sucrosemia is the abnormal presence of sucrose in the bloodstream.

Q: Why cannot the body digest sucrose?

A: Sucrose, such as cane or beet sugar, is a double molecule sugar which must first be digested before being absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream. That is, sucrose must be split into its component single molecules of fructose and glucose, which are then properly absorbed.

The inability to properly digest sucrose results directly from low production and activity of sucrase in the small intestine. Sucrase is the specific enzyme that splits or digests sucrose.

Undigested sucrose does not remain idle. Its presence acts osmotically to draw water from the body into the intestine, causing watery diarrhea.

Meanwhile, microbiota (normal bacteria) in the colon eagerly ferment the abnormally present sucrose that arrives from the small intestine. Fermentation generates short-chain fatty acids and hydrogen gas, which results in bloating pain.1

In sucrosemia, sucrose molecules abnormaly pass through an unhealthy small intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream where there presence is abnormal. Sucrose in the blood is filtered out by the kidneys and excreted in urine.

Positive response to a breath hydrogen test (BHT), involving 1 – 3 hours of time post ingestion of sucrose test dose, signifies malabsorption in the small intestine and fermentation in the colon. If BHT is positive before 60 minutes, the result implies bacteria is abnormally present in the small intestine, causing fermentation there. Endoscopy is used to measure sucrase activity in tissue samples.

What Is Sucrose Intolerance And Sucrosemia In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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  1. Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy. 10th Edition. Kathleen Mahan, Sylvia Escott-Stump. 2000. W.B. Saunders Company. 

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