Facts About Fructose Malabsorption and Alcohol

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Fructose malabsorption is a condition wherein the body cannot absorb all types of short-chain fermentable carbohydrates such as fructose, lactose, galactans and polyols. If the body cannot absorb these sugars properly, they are left to ferment by the bacteria in your intestines. This will generate water and gas, resulting to bloating, flatulence, constipation, diarrhea and other digestive problems.

Because fructose malabsorption is an incurable condition, treatments are geared towards minimizing the symptoms. This is done through fructose-restricted diet as well as to eliminate fermentable sugar including beer. Alcoholic beverages contain fermentable sugar so those suffering from fructose malabsorption usually avoid them. However, certain types of alcoholic beverages – beers including – can be consumed safely in moderation.

The general rule of thumb is to choose alcoholic beverages that are less refined. The less refined the drink, the lower the fructose content. While beers are made with malt, the brewing process eliminates most of fructose in these drinks. Unrefined beers have a cloudy appearance. Beers with very low fructose includes:

Pale Lager

Pale lagers – also known as golden ales – have a dry crisp taste. These beers are made with Pilsner malt and noble hops. This gives the drink its distinct golden color. Cheaper American beer is made with corn that’s why it’s lighter in color. Both types of pale lagers are great options for those who suffer from fructose malabsorption.

Pilsner Beer

Pilsner beer originated in Czech Republic though it’s brewed in European and German styles. It has a pale, golden color. Brands that offer pilsner beer include Heineken and Stella Artois and Fosters. However, popular beer brands may contain wheat so always check the label.


Helles is a brewed German style. It has a robust, hops flavor and pale color. Helles are not widely distributed so check with your local beverage depot if they carry this kind of beer.

American Pale Lager

This all-malt beer does not use adjuncts or un-malted grains during the brewing processes. It doesn’t contain wheat, corn or any other grains.

Low Carbohydrates Beer

Also known as light beers, low carbohydrates beers are low in sugar so they have less fructose than other types of beer. That’s why light beers are ideal for people who are afflicted with fructose malabsorption.

When it comes to choosing low fructose beer, keep in mind that each product has to be tested in order detect the fructose level. That’s because the level of malt – which contain different levels of fructose – are not listed on the label.

Alcoholic Beverages to Avoid

Those who suffer from fructose malabsorption should avoid sherry, port, and sweet wine. These drinks contain high fructose. Dry wines contain moderate amounts of fructose. They are safe to drink in moderation. All types of hard liquor are free from fructose. But if the drink is mixed or sweetened in any way, check the ingredients. If the sweetener is made from high fructose corn syrup, agave or honey, then avoid these drinks. In addition, do not mix hard liquor with fizzy drinks or certain fruit juices if you suffer from fructose malabsorption.

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