Sugar Intolerance: Too Much of a Delicious Thing.

Some people get sick when they eat certain kinds of sugar. Some people get sick when they eat too much of ANY kind of sugar.



So… Is a sugar intolerance causing some of YOUR misery?

 

What is sugar intolerance?

Pretty woman eating big cubes of sugar.

Is too much sugar ruining YOUR health???

Sugar intolerance can take many forms, from type 2 diabetes to hypoglycemia to bowel problems.

Note that I’m not writing about genetic diseases here. Those are uncommon, and you’d probably know about them before you’d be reading this page.

I’m talking about abuse to our bodies that turn into problems… Abuse that can be prevented to a large degree by changes in your diet.

For people with IBS symptoms, a sugar intolerance can show up as diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and gas.

How can sugar intolerance cause IBS symptoms?

Word cloud showing blood sugar related words

The way sugar works in the body is complicated. Eating too much sugar can cause harm to your health in many ways.
© Can Stock Photo

Most people can digest some sugar. But the human body is NOT capable of handling the amount of sugar in the modern diet (see below).

Digestion is pretty complicated. There are enzymes and chemical reactions that happen during digestion that allow your body to absorb the nutrients and sugars in food.

Anything that your body can’t break down and absorb stays in the digestive tract, and exits out the “back door” when you have a bowel movement.

If you eat more sugar than your body can break down and absorb, some of the sugar will stay in your bowels. As this sugar moves through the large intestine, bacteria and yeast feed on it and create a gas buildup. This gas can cause cramping, spasms and pain.

Sugar can draw water into the large intestine or at least prevent it from being absorbed properly (absorbing this water is the large intestine’s main job).

So, excess gas, watery stool (diarrhea), abdominal pain and cramping… I’m betting that sounds familiar to anyone with the diarrhea version of IBS.

Why sugar intolerance is no surprise:

Our ancestors evolved eating a diet of plants, nuts, seeds and meat. They got a small amount of sugar from fruit when it was available. It’s estimated that our ancestors ate less than a pound of sugar a year (some say it was MUCH less). NOW the average person in the “developed world” eats 150 pounds of sugar in a year! So that’s 150 times as much sugar in your average day!

Bag of sugar with a big scoop.

Human beings were never meant to eat SUGAR BY THE BAG. Sugar is in almost everything!
© Can Stock Photo

So our bodies are designed by nature to eat at least 150 times less sugar than we’re eating! Sorry for all the exclamation points, but that’s just too incredible.

Let’s compare that to other foods as an example. What if our ancestors ate 2 pounds of meat a day, but instead we eat 300 pounds of meat a day. Or let’s say our ancestors only at 1/4 pound of meat a day, and now we ate 37 1/2 pounds of meat a day.

Or let’s consider water. If our bodies are designed to take in 1 gallon a day, and instead we drank 150 gallons a day…

A person who did that would be dead in a couple of days or less!

So sugar intolerance MAY just mean our bodies can’t keep up with the ridiculous amount of sugar (and high fructose corn syrup, etc.) we’re eating. It’s more of a surprise that our bodies don’t just fall over!

Sugar is a drug…

Did you know that they used to lock sugar up? Did you know that sugar is highly addictive? Have you ever heard of a “junk food junky?” Well that’s an accurate description of many people (me especially ;).

I sometimes wonder why sugar isn’t a “controlled substance.” Sounds silly right? But people used to use cocaine in soft drinks, and probably would have thought it ridiculous to cut back on cocaine. After all cocaine just makes you feel good and gives you a boost of energy! Hmm… That sounds familiar. Maybe cutting back on sugar isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

When you try to cut back on sugar, the first few days can be horrible. Sugar is highly addictive, and acts like a drug in your system. Once you go through the drug withdrawal symptoms, you’ll probably start feeling a lot better, but for many people it’s a rough time.

It’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor or a dietitian, to make sure you’re getting enough “complex” carbohydrates.

[inads]

How to tell if you have a sensitivity to sugar:

One of the best ways to find out about ANY food intolerance is with a food elimination diet. That works very well for fructose intolerance (fruit sugar) and lactose intolerance (milk sugar).

It is more difficult to tell if you have a general sugar intolerance. Sugar is addictive, and when you first stop eating it your body goes into withdrawal!

You’re so busy feeling lousy because of the sugar withdrawal that it’s hard to figure out if sugar is making you sick. You’ll have to wait until sugar withdrawal is completely over before testing with the food elimination diet. When you go to add the sugar back to see if it’s the trouble maker, you’re likely to binge on sugary foods (I’m speaking from experience here.)

Putting together a low sugar, low carb or sugar intolerance diet:

When I first figured out I had some sugar intolerance, I tried the Atkins diet, and felt much better. There have been many other low sugar or low carb diets over the years. Whole books are written about them, and it’s more than I can cover here. But here are some of the famous ones:

The South Beach Diet
The Atkins Diet
The Paleolithic Diet

More recently the FODMAPS diet.

I tried the Paleolithic (or caveman) diet for a while, and it worked very well for me. The idea is that you shouldn’t eat anything you couldn’t get with a spear or from a plant. Basically it means don’t eat what a caveman (or cavewoman ;) didn’t eat. No milk, no corn, no wheat or white flour products, no oats and no beans. All of those items require a mill or cooking before you can eat them.

On the other hand you can eat all the meat fruit and vegetables you want (if you’re trying prevent sugar intolerance symptoms you should be careful of too much fruit).

Over the course of a year, I lost 50 pounds and I felt MUCH BETTER!

But I don’t like to eat vegetables (I’m a vegetable wimp), and so I had trouble getting enough calories. I eventually added corn (i.e. corn chips ;), and rice. Sometimes I “fall off the wagon” and end up eating way too much candy and cookies. I usually feel lousy afterward for a couple of days though.

Other good reasons to kick the sugar habit:

Pudgy woman trying to button jeans that are too small.

Insulin resistance can lead to extra body fat. One more reason to get excess sugar out your diet.
© Bigstockphoto.com

Eating too much sugar makes your body produce a lot of insulin. Insulin moves the sugar into your cells for energy. After a while the cells in your body start to resist the insulin because they’re getting way to much sugar. This is known as “insulin resistance.”

Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain, and can make it VERY difficult to lose weight. Too much body fat can cause hormone problems, heart disease, and a host of other problems.

Being overweight and being insulin resistant often leads to type 2 diabetes (a serious illness). Some doctors are predicting type 2 diabetes will become an epidemic in “developed nations” because of the high level of sugar and simple carbohydrates we eat. People with diabetes usually have to reduce the amount of sugar they eat SO WHY NOT REDUCE IT NOW, BEFORE YOU GET SICK!

Here are specific kinds of sugar intolerance:

Lactose intolerance – when milk products give you problems. The most common sugar intolerance.
Fructose malabsorption – a bad reaction to fruit sugar (aka, how raisins kicked my butt!).

See the Food Intolerance page for other other foods that can cause you trouble.

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87 Comments

  1. Reply

    Hi Shawn,

    Your blog is so informative – thankyou! I’ve been struggling with ibs-d for about two years now. Not officially diagnosed as the doctors are very unhelpful. But so far I seem to be sensitive to caffeine, spicy food, dairy/lactose. And then most recently sugar mainly from processed food. I eat a very healthy vegan diet with only whole foods/vegetables etc. But every now and then I have a ‘treat’, normally a vegan cake or something from the store which is vegan (full of crap I know) but I can’t tolerate it now and I’m getting really bad ibs- d with it. I’m worried this will lead to sugars in fruit upsetting me. Is there anything I can do?!? I already take a high quality probiotic and exercise etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou.

  2. Reply

    I got h.pylori in April of 2017 while on a camping trip. I didn’t get my treatments started until July (around the 10th) of 2017. After my treatments, I have had gastrointestinal pain and discomfort when I eat even ye smallest amount of sugar. Is happens after I eat one m&m. Do you think I might be allergic to sugar?

    • Reply

      Sounds like you have Candida overgrowth. It’s very common for people to experience this after a round of antibiotics, which wipe out your beneficial bacteria and cause Candida to grow out of control. Candida feeds off of sugar. I got Candida overgrowth too and am able to keep it under control by eliminating all sugar for awhile, drinking Apple Cider Vinegar in my water, and taking digestive enzymes. The digestive enzyme product I take is “Candex.” It not only helps my digestion but it eats Candida.

    • Reply

      Sounds like you have Candida overgrowth which many people get after taking antibiotics. I got it too. I keep it under control by staying off of all forms of sugar and starchy carbs for awhile, drinking Braggs apple cider vinegar in my water, and taking Candex (digestive enzymes that digest your food for you and eat Candida).

  3. Reply

    I’m disgusted at how even a tiny amount of sugar hurts me. It’s so unfair. :) it’s hard to avoid. Thai food, ketchup, spaghetti sauce… you really have to read labels. I have proctitis/colitis and try to eat a meat veg diet low in carbs. Sugar, wheat, soy, lactose are all triggers. I used the SCD for a year but now eat rice and corn. I do find even a tiny bit of cheating is addictive. And both sudden introduction of sugar and withdrawal from it brings me terrible headaches. It SHOULD be a controlled substance. People hand it out to kids without permission.

  4. Reply

    I have been having a problem with sugar for a number of years now. Any time I take any kind of sugar I get stomach aches that only go away if I take water or something bitter. Am yet to understand what the main problem is​ since my weight is normal and I eat healthy foods.

    • Reply

      I have a similar problem where I get really bad stomach aches from even just mini size candy bars. I have to eat bitter chocolate or suffer the aches to eat candy but I don’t eat that healthy though. I know why I have really bad sugar intolerance because of my sensitive stomach. You may have the same problem if you get motion sickness while in the passenger/backseat of vehicles.

  5. Reply

    My doctor told me that I’m pre-diabetic. It’s a concern obviously and I’m way overweight. So I’ve started eating properly. Cutting down on the sweets. I find cutting out only causes cravings. I have list 30 pound in 6 months. Taking things slow. Love your article.

    • Reply

      Congratulations on your improving health. 🌻

  6. Reply

    Hello shawn thank you so much for all that information I have read every one of your e mails I am 74 the only thing I can’t eat is cucumber as it gives me heart burn I can truthfully say its the only thing I can’t eat you should have your show on TV thank you again and have a happy new year p.s keep writing Chris K

  7. Reply

    When I eat a lot of sugar, like I did over christmas/new years, at some point within the week I’ll need to poop several times within an hour period. I always figured it’s due to not processing all the sugar.

    I googled the issue and landed here. :)

  8. Reply

    Grateful to find this blog. Helpful!

  9. Reply

    Interesting comments, I can relate to them all. Have had very bad ibs for about 9 years now, going to the loo many times a day, and watery. Ended up with diabetes, as almost every time I eat or drink sweet stuff I get sickish, dizzy, and sometimes must sleep it off. Only things seem to help is eat once a day, and the more vegetable it is I eat the better, not that Im saying I dont eat meat, love meat, just saying. If I eat only one meal a day then seems I can have some sweet tea or cola now and them, most likely because since food is turned to sugar,,and the sweet drinks,,the body cant handle it from both directions, so cut out one and the other can deal with it better, if you get that. I should stop all surgery drinks of course because I still get loose bowel, just not as bad as before this way. So overall sugar is the main thing causing most problems, have had candida for years,,and the tongue coatings that no matter how much you clean the tongue they come back in a day or two,,signs you have candida,,to much sugar in the system,,bowels,,foods or liquids you drink,,,so been there,,through it all,,still am,,but the above method helps greatly…

    • Reply

      Eating only once a day will only slow the metabolism and worsen your blood sugar issues over times. My doctor said not eating breakfast affects metabolism and increases chances for diabetes. Coffee in the morning before eating is also for metabolism and increases chances for diabetes. Regular meals is a must for any blood sugar issues. It might be helpful for you to see a nutritionist or dietitian. Eating balanced meals with enough protein is crucial for blood sugar issues. If one doesn’t eat meat, careful planning is needed to ensure balanced meals and stable blood sugar levels. Cheers!

  10. Reply

    I have been following a paleo diet for 6 weeks now. Some weekends I do allow myself a small sugary treat. However, I have noticed horrible stomach rumblings and a need to rush to the bathroom. Can sugar cause this?

  11. Reply

    Hi Shawn,

    I am a recovering junk-food-junkie. About 3 weeks ago, I gave up all junk-food. About 2 weeks ago, I started getting terrible stomach aches – it feels like trapped gas. I was super regular with my bowel movements (once a day in the morning), but now, its only every other day and super tough to pass. I see that you suggested fiber to someone, I have been doing that, eating All Bran buds (yuck) and drinking prune juice (which has always cured constipation for me before).

    I feel like I have the bad symptoms you described, but AFTER I cut the sugar. Any thoughts?

    • Reply

      Dude — that trapped gas and associated pain and discomfort is a bitch. Based on my experience, you are going in the wrong direction. Stop with all the prune juice and fiber…for me, that stuff would substantially create more gas, bloating, pain, etc.

      I have been dealing with really bad gas and painful bloating for awhile. When I started to research and understand about foods that contribute to these problems, I made a some really good progress. (I have IBS-D). I don’t get the really bad gas and painful bloating too much anymore. In case this can be of any benefit to you, here is what I now do to help prevent the problems:

      -Do not eat high fiber foods…causes a lot of bloating
      -Do not eat broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions or bean sprouts
      -Never eat fast food — it is not good, at all
      -No dairy….milk, ice cream, yogurt — I gave it all up without too much problem at all
      -I use unsweetened almond milk now…it took a minute but I am good with it
      -I eat a bowl of oatmeal in the morning and sausage (Applegate Farms chicken sausage)
      -No fruit or fruit juice — that fructose sugar is a bad trigger (strawberries and pineapple are good, though)
      -Eat lots of vegetables except those listed above
      -Eat all meats …beef, chicken, turkey, fish…it’s all good
      -I eat bread….just not too much
      -Peppermint tea is amazing for the gut…it really helps a lot’
      -Tums or Rolaids help with gas and bloating, too
      -I was never a coffee drinker but sometimes I had decaf…I gave that up..and ice tea…huge help
      -Walking, running or jogging is a big help, too
      -I was never a big soda drinker….but I know it’s not at all good
      -Vodka and tequilla good — whiskey ok sometimes….run bad
      -Beer — Mexican beers are always good (Modelo, Corona) but all the others are not so good
      -Wine is okay

      I also take a probiotic every morning…awesome little pill.

      Good luck.

      R

      • Reply

        Hmm, well, I had the gastric bypass on 08, almost died from it, but then in 09, I had hernia surgery. Whatever Dr Wright did, it has screwed me. I had to get disability, have these horrible masses in my stomach that surgeons refuse to go in cuz of how bad of infections I get with them. They are leaving me hanging, in pain constantly, pain management drs monthly, n causing probs with my heart that I shld NEVER had gotten. I have drank wine every single day for all almost 6 years, but for some reason, the last month or so, thinking it was totally something else, I’m more nauseated, throwing up way worse, but now thinking, is it the wine ? N if it is?, why all of a sudden??? Any suggestions, thoughts, cures ?? Cuz this is totally ridiculous!! After eliminating everything else, wine is the only thing left.

        • Reply

          Wine is all sugar. Stop drinking it. And stop eating all the crap that made you think getting bypass was your answer. Take care of your body. Can’t believe you get disability for a surgery. If you and others would realize that sugar is a drug and our bodies are not made for it, everyone would be better. Eat small healthy meals and go walking an hour a day. Thirty minutes one way and then back. You’ll feel better, the gas and bloating will dissipate, and you’ll lose the weight.

          • Not true! A dry wine contains no sugar. When grapes ferment, the yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Only sweetened wines contain sugar – and that is added after the wine is fermented.

      • Reply

        You speak the truth brother Rick. I have found the same trend with my IBS-C situation. I try to incorporate a few things from time to time like a piece of fruit. But even that, builds on itself over a few days and it becomes clear that things are slipping. In those cases, I go back cold-turkey no sugar for at least 24 hrs. I usually clear right back up.

      • Reply

        Thanks, this was really helpful and very informative.

  12. Reply

    Great article. Just one observation: Cocaine was never used in soft drinks. The name Coca Cola isn’t related to the substance. The creator of the syrup used was a pharmacist, so the assumption and subsequent rumour about cocaine in Coke has spread throughout the years.

  13. Reply

    For the past 5 weeks, ive suffered chronic loose bowel movements. At first i thought it was stress or nerves with graduation, but now that ive cut Coca Cola out of my diet along with ice vream and candy, it has gotten much better. It still flares up cause i get anxious about it everytime i eat, but i honestly think this is what i have. The doctors couldnt even figure it out. Thank you so much!!!!!

    • Reply

      I’ve had IBS forever; was even put on steroids for it. But a health trainer told me to start taking a probiotic (acidophillis) ever day and eat smaller meals. Except when I eat cake, my stomach issues have stopped. But I have to take the probiotic. Give it a try.

      • Reply

        This really helps me too!! When i get stomach pain and bad gas/burps (sulfur gas), and if i take probiotics as soon as i feel a flare up, it subsides way quicker and never gets to the awful stomach pain stage, which I’ve experienced several times and even passed out because of the pain!! Probiotics are a life saver!

        • Reply

          Refrigerated probiotic wprks best

  14. Reply

    I have been on a Palio. diet for 4 weeks. I am glucose intolerant and a type 1 diabetic. I am very insulting sensitive. Why do I have a loose bowel and go all day? I drink a lot of water but I do use a little stevia. Maybe 2 packets a day. I do have a berry and almond milk or coconut water smoothie at night. Help I want to be healthier. Thanks and God Bless you! Lori

    • Reply

      Stevia unfortunately- or it may be a sweetener often combined with it – gives me diarrhea.

  15. Reply

    Hi there..

    I am a poster child for your article. I have battled IBS diarrhea for 9 years. Incredibly painful, life controlling symptoms. It have been through all the testing and had no answers, until I fasted for a week. I ate only white rice, then introduced one food at a time, 2 days apart. I noticed sugar was the culprit and cut it off immediately. It totally healed me. I am so thankful. I did notice that I was more constipated, but ate more dark green veggies like kale to help with that.

    I’m off to the doc to get tested for diabetes.

    My question is, I used to drink almond milk but I heard it turns into sugar in your body. Do you believe almond milk is a good choice? And coconut milk seems sugary to me too, is it OK?

    • Reply

      Hi Amber, I’m okay drinking Almond milk. Soy milk makes me sick. I think it’s really up to how it makes you feel. Wish I had a more concrete answer for you.

    • Reply

      Can I just mention that I’ve always been an IBS sufferer and recently I’ve started taking digestive enzymes and they definitely make a huge difference. Also I do to some degree, follow the FODMAP diet. You will need to continue with plenty of greens/fibre as constipation is a bit of a side effect. All the best.

    • Reply

      I use unsweetened cashew milk since I’m allergic to almonds and soy. It’s not great to make pancakes or waffles (GF or non-GF version). I make fruit smoothies with it and some plain Greek yogurt and fresh or frozen berries and add just a packet of stevia. This is a new eating plan for me but I like the cashew milk.

    • Reply

      None of the milks are good for you. Are bodies weren’t made to digest it. It’s still sugar. If you have to have a little milk you amy as well make it regular milk. Almond and coconut are pure sugar and seriously bad if you’re a diabetic. Stay away from fruit juices too.

    • Reply

      Everything turns to sugar in the body! Shawn mentions soy- I find many others have the sugar-wheat-lactose- soy combo of intolerances. I’ve wondered if it’s RoundUp related, or processing related.

      • Reply

        I have the same issues! I’ve been lactose intolerant since I was a baby, but I discovered ago a year ago gluten and soy made me very ill (through elimination diet, dr said that all my stomach issues were in my head…idiot) within the past few months I seem to have developed a sugar intolerance as well but sugar substitute like sweet n low causes no issues. Time for another round of elimination to clear this all up. I’m basically left with meat and veggies to eat at this point, very unsatisfying.

  16. Reply

    Hi. I got off dairy several months ago and experienced a lot of improvement with my digestion. I am finding now that sugary foods are also messing me up. Fruit is a big problem, but so are things like brownies, candy and pastries. So, I am getting ready to get off of sugar now, too. It looks like it is going to be difficult… I crave sugary foods and sweets after eating…why is that? Any ideas here? I quit smoking years ago but sometimes I relate the nicotine addiction to sugar cravings. The up side, though, is that I beat cigarettes, which means I can beat sugar, too. In any case, I do experience painful bloating, stomach upset, cramps and irregular bowels with sugar. (I have IBS-D….making great strides in handling it now that I am off diary….hoping breaking the sugar habit brings in even more progress).

    On the irregular bowels thing (so to be gross)…I definitely see a direct cause/effect relationship with eating fruit/sugarly foods and bad bowels. It’s sticky and greasy — like somewhere between normal and diarrhea. I’ve not been to understand what is happening here…do you know?

    I really like this blog…thank you for keeping it active.

    Rick

    • Reply

      Hi again. Just wanted to say that in addition to giving up sugar (must say I do take Splenda which doesn’t have aspartame) I recently started taking digestive enzymes. I can’t believe the difference. I’m actually almost feeling ‘normal’. I recommend trying them. Just an over the counter item from the local health food shop or pharmacist.

      All the best!😄😄

      • Reply

        Digestive enzymes are probiotics. You can get basic acidophillis at any store. It does wonders for you guy buy resupplying it with healthy bacteria. Been on them for 20 years. Kept me out of the hospital and off steroids.

        • Reply

          enzymes are NOT probiotics. Enzymes are enzymes that help break down foods, and our body naturally produces them. Probiotics are strains of bacteria that live in the gut that comprise of most of your immune system and keep your body in check. Don’t confuse the two.

      • Reply

        Agree!

  17. Reply

    Wow what a great find your blog is Shawn. I am so over this IBS thing I suffer. It completely rules my life! I’ve done all the diets and at present trying the FODMAP one which is predominantly gluten and dairy free. Though nothing ever really seems to make a difference. NOW I’m about to give the sugar free a go! The only added sugar I take is in my tea and occasional coffee. I enjoy peppermint tea but have a couple of decent spoonful of sugar. Anyhow today is the day….no more added sugar for a start. I have to beat this horrible thing. As my son is coeliac I have been tested for that, but I’m fortunate not to have it. But if this awful, persistent turmoil of gas, bloating, irregular and unusual bowel movements, doesn’t soon give me some peace, I just don’t know what I will do. Thanks for this informative blog and I’d like to add as others have that’s it’s so nice to not be bombarded with suggestions of products for sale etc. regards to you for what you achieve here.

    • Reply

      Hi, I hope you get to read this! I went to a gastro and IBS clinch in London and had loads of tests. It turns out I had really bad bacteria in my stomach, which fed on sugar. Causing my awful IBS. After following the paleo fobmap diet and taking tablets to get rid of the bad bacteria, a year later my life has changed!

      • Reply

        You should also take probiotics; they replete the good bacteria destroyed in your system. They’ve saved me life. Changing diet is important too.

      • Reply

        Hi Holly, which clinic did you go to. I have similar problem.

        Regards,

        Jay

  18. Reply

    HI this message is for Shayna – chocolate contains mold and also acts as a probiotic…it is a known trigger to cause diherrea and is a powerful laxative as well. In addition, most chocolate is laden with soy or soy lecithin – both are terrible culprits for the gastrointestinal system. Dark chocolate should also be eaten in moderation even though it does not contain milk or soy…but be careful there too because if the label reads 90% cacao it could very likely contain soy in the other 10% (deceptive marketing) especially if you have fructose malabsorption, you should avoid chocolate because it is a fructan… or eat no more than 2 grams a day. .l I am a nutritionist – please feel free to ask if you any further questions. -your blog is wonderful Shawn, you keep it “real” for people and that’s a great thing.

    • Reply

      Thanks Katrina. That’s kind of you to say.

  19. Reply

    Hi Shayne
    I have recently been diagnosed with liver disease. My consultant told me to stop drinking alcohol and lose weight. I the six weeks that I have abstained I have had 4 episodes of gas, bloating and violent watery diahorrea the following day after large meals/ overeating treats.
    Could this be my sugar levels , because I am no longer drinking sugar filled beer? Or am I diabetic
    Thanks
    Andrew

    • Reply

      Andrew, GREAT JOB at quitting alcohol. I know that can be tough. I’m not a doctor, but I’m thinking this is more about your system getting used to the changes. Your bowel bacteria is probably upset with you :(. Meanwhile, check back with the doctor to see if there is anything like a probiotic he or she can recommend.

  20. Reply

    if i take sugar i become dizzy and my stomach is in pain.If i take sour milk , I experience the same discomfort.Surprising the if i take coke i do not feel any pain.

  21. Reply

    Hi there, I was diagnosed with ibs 6 years ago. For me I noticed if I ate anything greasy (eg any kind of take out or spicy sauces etc) that was the trigger. I eliminated any of those kinds of foods.
    Lately I can’t seem to get enough sweets! Chocolate is my biggest weakness. I even get up through the night up to 4 times for something sweet and get really irritated if my stash runs out.
    M son used to wake between 9-16 times a night and that’s when my night time sugar binges started but then I would stay away from everything sweet during the day. Now it’s like I have no control.
    About three months ago (roughly when my binges got out of control) I started having very strong abdominal pain, a doc said he thinks it’s my bowels hurting. I’ve had so many blood tests done and they can’t find anything wrong. My gynae told me that eating too much sugar and not enough fibre will cause this pain. Is this the case?
    I’m so frustrated of not really knowing and the pain is becoming such a nuisance not to mention sore :/

  22. Reply

    Hi, I seem to have developed a ‘bad gut/IBS’ over the last two years, needless to say the Drs have not been very helpful. I stopped eating Gluten & dairy but still seem to be getting a lot of gas and uncomfortable gut now and again. I’m now thinking it’s because of sugar as I seem to improve if I cut down on choc biscuits (gluten/diary free) I seem to have such a craving for them with my now boring cups of tea without milk. Anyway what’s confusing me is if I was gluten intolerant how can I drink lager and it doesn’t seem to affect me (not that I’m complaining) but doesn’t lager contain gluten? Also isn’t it full of sugar?

    Thanks, I hope this forum is more helpful than the docs have been.
    Also good luck to everyone.

    • Reply

      Hi Zombie,

      Sometimes the best way to find any food triggers is to keep a food diary. It’s a pain in the butt, but worth it. Some people have problems with soy and other foods. Eliminating the unnecessary foods just makes life harder with no reason. Not all beer contains gluten, and I’m not sure how much it has, but it’s got to be less than, say, a biscuit.
      It isn’t full of sugar per se, though alcohol can act like a sugar in ways, as can the other simple carbohydrates in a lager.
      Here are some links. I hope you find some help! – Shawn

      https://solvingtheibspuzzle.com/category/foods-to-avoid-with-ibs/
      https://solvingtheibspuzzle.com/food-elimination-diet

      The other thing I’ll mention is that for boring tea, etc. there are milk substitutes that are very good. I like almond milk and coconut milk for substitutes for regular milk.

      • Reply

        HI Shawn,

        Thank you very much for you reply, I really appreciate it, I’ll have a look at the links. Also my wife bought me Coconut milk which was fine, but the only thing stopping me buying it again is it comes in a minimum 2 pints packs! Which seems very silly to me considering it’s not a product the whole family would use, if the supermarkets stocked it in pints it would be worth buying otherwise it ends up down the sink! Or does it last longer than it says on the box?

        Thanks,
        Zombie

        • Reply

          I don’t really pay attention to the date, but that’s just me. Besides, it doesn’t last long enough to spoil even though I’m the only one that drinks it. I use it with “instant breakfast” or on it’s own, because I got tired of eating eggs for breakfast. I also drink it when I need some quick calories (usually because I’ve been busy and skipped a meal). ALL that being said, when I (rarely) don’t drink it and don’t trust it, I dump it. It’s a waste, but it’s better than no milk to me. – Shawn

      • Reply

        Hi again Shawn, I’ve been having GF cereal with coconut milk, it’s v tasty :). One thing I can’t work out is if I get my symptoms which are numerous visits to the loo, and in-between I seem to have uncomfortable feelings of gas in my intestines, but I can’t pass it! This seems to be my biggest irritation, if I go to bed (at bed time) & manage to fall asleep I seem to be able to pass the gas no problem in the morning, it’s just when I’m having my symptoms that I really want to pass wind but it just seems trapped! Thus having to visit the loo just in case!
        One last important question I think would really help me is how long do you think it should (roughly) take after eating something offending that I should have some sort of symptoms? This would REALLY help me pin point the true culprits.
        Finally I have been keeping a food diary, but for example last Saturday 4 days ago I had some cheese & shared a chocolate cake with my daughter & I was fine until yesterday/today, so would you say it’s something else as the cheese & cake were consumed too long ago, or is it possible that 4 days later they would strike?

        This last question I feel is the most important to me as it would really help me work out what the hell is causing this! Sorry for the language.

        Cheers,
        Zombie

        • Reply

          NP on the language, LOL. How long it takes for a food to cause a problem can vary from person to person. It depends on how fast food is moving through your system. For some people it can probably take 4 days or even more (even if they are having bowel movements frequently). It also depends on where the problem becomes active (small intestine, or large or whatever).

          This will seem gross, but one way to find out how long food is taking to move through your system is to eat a bunch of corn. When you see it come out the back end, you’ll know how long that particular journey took. But the amount of time can vary for some people. I wish I could give you a more definite answer.

          Hmmm. I’m thinking that the gas that gets trapped during the day, but comes out at night, might be do to some cramping in the colon. If it pinched off the tube, the gas could get trapped.

          Then maybe as you relax or sleep, your colon relaxes, and lets the gas go.

          • Thanks again Shawn!
            Out of the tons of sites etc I’ve been on you’re one of the only ones who actually answers sensibly & without daft stories/attempts to make me buy buy stuff. Anyway thank you soo much if you think 4 days is poss then it makes sense

            Thank you,

            Zombie

  23. Reply

    I’m about 9 weeks pregnant, and having horrible diarrhea as well as nausea, and I just attributed it to normal pregnancy sickness, but I’m realizing it’s worse the day after I’ve had a lot of sugar. Unfortunately I’m craving chocolate and fruit, and everything else just doesn’t sound appetizing. I’m thinking I may just have to flush my system of sugar and see if that helps.

    • Reply

      April, I’m sorry to hear that it’s miserable for you right now. It’s SUPPOSED to be a happy time. Please make sure to check with the doc before doing anything drastic though! Just in case.

      Shawn

  24. Reply

    Whenever I drink orange squash it comes straight back out and its the same for anything sweet like chocolate, fizzy drinks etc. Any ideas on what this could be?

  25. Reply

    You mentioned something at the beginning about genetic diseases, we are still trying to understand how this impacts my family. I have been diagnosed coeliac and a couple of nights ago we had roast duck and thai rice GF, and my daughter made a apple crumble GF and went a bit overboard with the sugar. My two girls and I were extremely sick to put it lightly but only just realised two days later how sick we all were. I assumed cross contamination from the Thai rice, but that doesn’t explain my girls. Food poisoning is out because the grand babies ate everything except the apple crumble but my son in law ate the crumble and he was fine so that leaves us with the sugar. I was told that I was fructose intolerant when I was diagnosed coeliac but told it will improve over time that was twelve months ago. I’m having another endoscope today so I should find out if still fructose intolerant in the next few weeks. Any hint or tip that we should be looking at would be greatly appreciated. Kelli

  26. Reply

    Hi there im new to this forum..but i was wondering if you could possibly shed a light on my situation. I had some blood work done that showed i had insulin resistence. so i slowly cut back my sugar for a week – no refined sugar at all and very little fruit sugar. I then started to notice that i was constipated more so than i usually am. I only usually go once a day. but now i am goin maybe once every two to three days. I started to eat more fruit cause i know sugar draws water into the colon. but i am defeating the purpose of staying away from sugar. now when i eat fruit i notice my stomach bloats and gets very hard. any suggestions would be great thank you so much

    • Reply

      Hi Cori, Fruit sugar doesn’t agree with a lot of people. See . A lot of times cutting down on carbs (not just sugars) means cutting down on breads, and grains etc. That’s where a lot of people get their fiber. I’d consider talking to your doc about this (a phone call perhaps), cut back on the sugar again, and try some gentle fiber like Metamucil for a few days. Just my humble opinion.

      • Reply

        Cori, it has been my experience that the constipation will level off eventually. Give it more time and eat a salad every day. Works for me.

      • Reply

        I think this is a great article and has made me feel as though I am not being neurotic. I was diagnosed with IBS 5 years ago and I have since followed a wheat free diet, gluten is fine for me, but wheat is not. I also have a lactose intolerance. The last six weeks have been awful, I felt as though I have been kicked in the tummy and back, the pain has been so dreadful. I have now cut out flour and sugar. However, I had some marshmallows given to me and because my pains had stopped then decided to eat some. What a mistake. Very upset tummy this morning, feel as though I have been kicked in tummy and back again and therefore have decided that sugar is just not for me. Thank you for convincing me that I am not losing it.

  27. Reply

    Thanks for your info and candor. My mom has been inflicted with IBS since I can remember. I vowed that if I ever found myself in her position, I would demand answers that she never pushed her doctors for.

    Here I am. IBS has slowly become a daily struggle for me and I am working to fix the problem. I just keep cutting things out- artificial sugar, caffeine, sweets, anything spicy or from the pepper family- not necessarily spicy, most dairy (cheese is my weakness). It’s helping, but I think I need to do the Real Deal Elimination diet (ironic because I feel like my everyday diet already is an “Elimination Diet” haha) to get rid of a couple more culprits. I am so desperate to be normal again. Even cheese won’t stop me now!

    Thanks again!

    • Reply

      You’re welcome Sara, BEST of luck to you. – Shawn

    • Reply

      See if cheddar and Swiss (no lactose) work for you!

  28. Reply

    Just adding my 2 cents, sugar seems to be my cuase of IBS have had since I was 5 1-2 bouts a week most of my life but when I cut out the sugar specifilly soft drinks really chagnged things for me, its been 6 weeks without a instance of the ” oh my wears the neaerest bathroom ” dont know how long it will last figure if I go 4 months I’m calling it a cure but I was a sugar aholic 3-5 cans a day plus candy bars and other sugars figured at least 200 grams a day now I’m doing about 30 grams a day tops and just really hoping it fixes the problem

    • Reply

      THANKS so much for such a helpful comment Ron. I truly hope this is your answer as well. Good luck! – Shawn

  29. Reply

    my lower intestines come alive at night,
    when I’m lying down asleep, about 1-3am the intestines light up and I’m awake, its been years, years.
    When I eat nothing at night of course no reaction half a peaceful night.
    Yep the usual suspects I suppose,
    but i dont drink alcohol much, no coffee at night, keep in minimal.
    I can feel the food hit my bowel.
    I think this has formed a habit in my system, Im thinking of hypnotherapy.

    • Reply

      Having nights of bad sleep is like a curse. I’m glad I don’t have much problem with that. I wonder what would happen if you had larger lunches and very light evening meals. I have heard some very good things about hypnosis and have a page about it here :. I’ve never tried it myself.

      Tim, if you do try it, I hope you’ll stop back here and let us know how you made out. GOOD LUCK!

  30. Reply

    Can I just ask – do you have any dark patches anywhere on your body? Neck/Underarms/Groin areas? I hear this is sometimes linked to Insulin Resistance/pre-diabetes. I also suffer with IBS and am worried I may have this.

    Thanks,
    Ellen

    • Reply

      I don’t have any such dark patches myself, but I’ve seen them.

      It sounds like what you’re talking about is something called acanthosis nigricans. I’ve read that this discoloration can be an indication of insulin resistance, or at least the beginnings of it.

      I’ve also read discussions about this being a symptom of other things like PCOS. Dark patches are a GREAT thing to have checked out by your DOC! I know I say that a lot around here, but the Internet is a great way to worry needlessly. A hormone and sugar test may be all you need to ease your fears. You may even find out something that helps your IBS!

  31. Reply

    Yes!
    When I binge on cookies, I pay for it the next day, just like a hangover.
    The diarrhea gets so painful that i sometimes throw up.
    Yet, like a fool, i always have a stash of sugar-something nearby.

    • Reply

      I’m also very guilty of having a sweet tooth, Shuree. Sugar is very addictive. The junk food junkie thing really ISN’T a joke.

  32. Reply

    Over the last 6 years (im 20) I am had major problems with fatigue and dizzyness. I got diagnosed with hypoglycemia about 4 years ago and this year with hypothyroidism. I am starting to realize that it is due to a sugar intolerance. I feel sick to my stomach, much more dizzy and fatigued when I eat anything sugary may it be pizza or chocolate, and feel that way for the rest of the day. My whole life its been hard for me to drink sugary drinks and eat things like cookies/ icecream without feeling sick after, but the cravings almost feel worse! IT is a never ending cycle. I love seeing stories like yours and seeing how much better it made you feel to cut sugar out. It gives me some hope! I just wanted to thank you for making this website :) I will use it.

    • Reply

      Thank you SOOO MUCH for the positive feedback, Katlin. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you improved health and happiness. – Shawn

      • Reply

        Ibs is not caused by sugar.
        There is a disease in the intestines.

        • Reply

          There are many things that can cause bowel troubles. IBS is a seemingly a blanket term for an unidentifiable bowel problem these days. Too much undigested sugar making its way into the bowel could conceivably cause yeast or bacteria overgrowth. That could lead to or worsen the symptoms that some people are calling IBS in my opinion.

    • Reply

      I have been dealing with its for about 10 years and I have even trying to figure out what has been making me go through this awful painful thing that has put a stop to ensure joking my life and have noticed that when I eat sweets I get sick!! The stomach gets sick feeling and gas pains and I’m in the bathroom for the next two days. I started feeling tired alot and gained weight ,I just got over the stomach bug and things came out both ends for two days but I definitely feel better!! I am now staying away from dairy and will cut way down on the sugary foods and then cut them completely out and see how I feel. Thanks for the info

      • Reply

        I have been wondering about this whole sugar thing. I had 2 surgeries 6 months apart and since that time I have been kind of gaggy so I suck on candy, I was chewing lots of gum, but gave that up because it was hurting my teeth and my stomach. I have found that my IBS has gotten way worse, not even thinking that too much sugar could be the problem. But it makes sense. Not sure what else to try for the gagginess can’t do anything mint. Any suggestions?

        • Reply

          It’s likely hospital bacteria.
          Straptocaucus difficile possibly. Its dangerous and tough to get rid of.tell your doctor.you need serious anti biotics.

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