Glucose intolerance: Is it possible for your child to be incapable of digesting sugar?

White sugar and other refined sugars are frequently added to meals and beverages to enhance flavour, but because they are so devoid of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and fibre, they are regarded as empty calories. Picture: Pexels

White sugar and other refined sugars are frequently added to meals and beverages to enhance flavour, but because they are so devoid of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and fibre, they are regarded as empty calories. Picture: Pexels

Published Jul 28, 2023


According to Medical News Today, glucose intolerance is a digestive issue brought on by the body’s inability to properly break down specific types of sugars, which are present in foods high in carbohydrates like bread, rice, and ice cream.

Despite being distinct from diabetes, glucose intolerance occasionally precedes the onset of type II diabetes. According to studies from Diabetes South Africa, obese kids are particularly affected.

Because of insulin resistance, a child with glucose intolerance produces more insulin than is necessary for sugar digestion. Sugars are broken down too quickly by the body, which can cause low blood sugar.

The extra insulin, the hormone that regulates the blood’s level of glucose sugar, might harm internal organs including the heart.

Advanced Allergy Solutions’ statistics show that glucose intolerance is sometimes inherited.

Muscle cramps, fatigue, and a general sense of weakness are the earliest signs. It may lead to bed-wetting in kids. It can cause type II diabetes and harm to organs like the heart if left untreated.

Unlike an allergic reaction, which involves the immune system, sugar intolerance is rather common. An individual who is intolerant to a particular sugar, however, has difficulty processing or digesting it. It results in a variety of digestive problems, the severity of which varies from person to person.

People may suffer symptoms from a few minutes to several hours after consuming sugar while the body tries to metabolise it.

It’s difficult to avoid sugar because it’s included in many meals, including those you presumably consume every day like fruit, desserts, sodas, pastries, ice cream, and dairy products.

You might not be aware that it’s also a component of many other popular items, including sports drinks, cereals, condiments in bottles, salad dressings, and more.

Sugar is a key component in supplying your body with energy because it serves as one form of fuel source for the cells in your body.

Sugars are carbohydrates, and they come in a variety of forms, such as:

Fructose: A naturally occurring sugar that can be found in fruits, vegetables with lots of carbohydrates, and honey.

Glucose: The body needs insulin to use glucose, which is an important source of energy.

Dairy products include the sugar called galactose: Milk and dairy products contain the sugar lactose, which is made up of glucose and galactose; Most commonly seen in grains like malt, maltose is a sugar is created when two glucose molecules are linked together.

Sucrose: Sometimes referred to as “table sugar,” this is a compound made up of the sugars glucose and fructose found in plants like, sugarcane and beets.

Xylose: This comes from wood or straw and is transformed into the sugar replacement we know as xylitol through an enzymatic process.

Fructose and lactose are thought to be the most likely of the potential reasons of sugar intolerance, reports Very Well Mind.

According to Medical News Today, weariness, cramping in the abdomen, uncomfortable bloating, gas, nausea or vomiting and diarrhoea are common signs of sugar intolerance.

When someone has a sugar intolerance, they may first experience cramps or nausea, which are frequently followed by gas and bloating as the sugar moves through the digestive tract.

When a person stops eating the sugar that bothers them, the diarrhoea they occasionally suffer when the sugar leaves their bodies will likely disappear. Sugar intolerance sufferers could also display agitation or inattentiveness.

Lactose intolerance is an instance of a common sugar intolerance. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate that up to 65% of individuals worldwide have some degree of lactose intolerance.

Lactose, the sugar included in milk, will be difficult for someone who is lactose intolerant to digest. One or more of the noted digestive problems are brought on by this sensitivity.

According to GI for Kids, a private, all-inclusive paediatric gastroenterology and nutrition centre, the following terms on a product label could signify the presence of sucrose in a food.

It can be challenging to totally avoid sucrose, sometimes known as table sugar, because it is an extremely prevalent food element.

It is advised to stay away from the following foods if any of the terms below are listed in the first five ingredients on the label: beet sugar, bar sugar, berry sugar, castor sugar, icing sugar, refined sugar, cane juice crystals, and invert sugar are all examples of organic sugar.

Sugar also includes cane sugar, confectioner’s sugar, granulated sugar, superfine sugar, naturally milled organic sugar, sugar syrup, cane syrup, evaporated milled cane juice, organic cane syrup and organic sugar.

Children with sugar intolerance exhibit a wide range of symptoms.

The Glycemic Index Foundation of South Africa, lists some of the typical symptoms as stomach cramps, diarrhoea, uncomfortable abdominal bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, headaches, migraines, stuffy nose, wheezing, hives, skin swelling or an itchy rash resembling eczema.

A tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth, fatigue, abnormal swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, face, or other parts of the body, difficulty breathing, feeling light-headed or dizzy, and fainting episodes are additional symptoms that have been connected to sugar intolerances, according to the foundation.

Sugar intolerances definitely exist, states Healthline, but there is no such thing as a true allergy to sugar. Anyone exhibiting fresh symptoms in response to a food should consult a physician or allergist to rule out allergies and intolerances.

Numerous sugar intolerances can be detected by doctors using blood tests and breathalysers. Various tests are also available to determine food allergies.

A food diary or an elimination diet may be suggested by the doctor to assist in the process. For the majority of cases of sugar intolerance or other food allergies, consulting a doctor directly is the recommended course of action.

Consult your doctor if you think your child may be allergic to or intolerant to sugar.

They can make a diagnosis after they: enquire about your child’s diet and symptoms; check your child for rashes, hives and other symptoms; and, if necessary, request sugar allergy tests.