In general, consuming whole fruit is good. However, in some cases fruits with excess fructose, soluble fiber or sorbitol can cause bloating, especially in people suffering from dietary fructose intolerance. It is best to avoid excessive consumption of apples, pears, peaches, plums and watermelon. Bananas, honeydew melon and strawberries are safer options.
Eating Too Much Fruit
Do you often feel bloated or flatulent after you consume fruits in large quantities? Or is it a myth? Population based studies have estimated that 16 – 30% people suffer from bloating .
Does Eating Too Much Fruit Cause Bloating?
In general, consumption of whole fruit (pretty much any amount) is good. Fruits are natural sources of minerals, vitamins and a host of other nutritious elements and generally speaking, do not cause acidity, flatulence or bloating. In fact, fruits high in potassium (such as bananas) can help reduce bloating by balancing sodium, which is a key contributor.
However, in some cases, fruit consumption may lead to bloating. Mostly, the condition can be linked to malabsorption of fructose in the intestine; fructose (that has not got absorbed) gets fermented and leads to gas and consequently flatulence, belching and boating.
Fruits With Soluble Fiber
Some fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches and prunes, have high-glucose, soluble-fiber content which slows down their absorption.
Fruits With Sorbitol
Sorbitol is a kind of sugar alcohol that hinders absorption of fructose. Apples, apricots, pears, nectarines and plums have high sorbitol content.
Fruits In Combination With Other Foods
Digestion of fruits can be hampered when eaten straight after a main meal or when eaten in combination with specific other foods, such as vegetables. It is best to eat fruits separately, either 30 minutes before a meal or at least two hours after.
Some people may suffer from Dietary Fructose Intolerance (DFI), a condition in which their intestine’s ability to absorb fructose is impaired. After 20 g fructose, patients with history of fruit intolerance produced more breath hydrogen, are more flatulent and seemed to experience a higher bloating score . Those with DFI can find it difficult to digest fruits with high fructose content such as mangoes, lychees, guavas and grapes.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and fructose malabsorption can be similar. Those with IBS may be more sensitive to fruit intake.
Fruits To Avoid
Apples, pears, nashi pears, clingstone peaches, mango, watermelon, custard apple, rambutan, persimmon, apricots, cherries, longon, lychee, nectarine, peaches, plums, prunes, tinned fruit in natural juice .
Banana, blueberry, carambola, durian, grapefruit, grape, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, passionfruit, paw paw, raspberry, rockmelon, strawberry, tangelo .
Summing It Up
For most individuals, fruit intake is perfectly safe and beneficial. Some individuals may suffer from fructose malabsorption, of varying nature and intensity, on a temporary or chronic basis.
While fructose is found in all fruits, it is important to note that fructose in whole fruit is processed differently as compared to added fructose, mainly because whole fruit contains fiber. Do keep in mind therefore, that your fructose intolerance may not necessarily be linked to your fruit consumption, but to other fructose-rich foods bereft of fiber such as corn syrup or fruit juices.
Having eliminated all other dietary fructose sources, if fruits are indeed causing the problem, eliminating problematic fruits and reducing fruit intake can rapidly lead to symptom relief in most individuals.
- Agrawal, A., and P. J. Whorwell. “Review article: abdominal bloating and distension in functional gastrointestinal disorders–epidemiology and exploration of possible mechanisms.” Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics 27.1 (2008): 2-10.
- Mann, Nirmal S., and Eddie C. Cheung. “Fructose-induced breath hydrogen in patients with fruit intolerance.” Journal of clinical gastroenterology 42.2 (2008): 157-159.
- Gibson, Peter R., and Susan J. Shepherd. “Evidence‐based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms: The FODMAP approach.” Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology 25.2 (2010): 252-258.
by Dipti Mothay