Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The ironies of life

About two and a half years ago, my husband and I started to make a very concerted effort to really keep "better for us" food in the house and remove junk. Eat more fruits and vegetables, all that good for you stuff.

Well, I've recently been struck by the sheer irony of the fact that because I have been eating more healthy I seem to have exacerbated a problem which now means I need to not eat fruits and vegetables as much because they're making me sick! Any one else struck by the irony of this fact?

Over the last year and a half to two years I've started having some weird digestive problems. Nothing that I will really go into a lot of detail on (not exactly my idea of a choice topic!). I had my suspicions, but as it really wasn't bothering me that much and if what I suspected truly was the culprit, I almost didn't want to know about it. Besides, every time you wind up being nauseated or complaining of an upset stomach and you're married and my age, everybody has to ask if you're pregnant! So, I tended to keep my mouth shut a lot about it.

Well, the last six months in particular these issues have been getting worse and worse to the point where I've really needed to face the facts. With some careful observation and realistic examination of what was going on, I think I am fructose intolerant. I narrowed it down to sugar about a month or so ago and with some help from others and research on my own, I think fructose is the specific culprit. I believe the technical term is to have fructose malabsorption. In other words, my body doesn't know what to do with fructose. Fructose stresses out my innards and winds up with me being a rather miserable and grumpy in pain crab.

Now, I have not yet gone to the doctor to get a hydrogen breath test to confirm this; however, I'm working on cutting out as much fructose in my diet as I can for awhile to see how I feel.

Sounds easy, right? Just cut out anything with high fructose corn syrup in the label and any fruit and I should be good to go. WRONG!!!!!! Fructose is in everything, apparently.

All the good fruits and vegetables (including, ironically, those I have been so careful to include in my lunches on a very regular basis for so long now!) have more fructose in them than glucose (which apparently glucose helps balance out fructose? still figuring that part out). Apples - well, all fruit - carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, all sorts of lovely things which I adore to eat.

The worse one I've discovered though is actually wheat. Apparently the natural sugars in wheat are fructen - i.e. formed of fructose. Now, living without wheat is not my idea of a good time. Everything has wheat in it, and even if they don't spell it out in the ingredients, they instead put in different fancy words that when you look them up on the Internet are...tada...forms of wheat. Much of the research I have read has said that a lot of people really aren't affected as much by the whole wheat side of the food, but given my past history in all this and in tracking what I've been eating and what seems to really have been upsetting my stomach, I'm pretty positive that it is affecting me.

The good side of all this is that

(a) fructose malabsorption is a relatively common thing and once you've figured out your own tolerance levels for fructose and are careful, eating some doesn't seem to be a problem as long as you're careful.

(b) this explains a lot in terms of mood swings and depression that I have been fighting on and off the last few years. Yes, yes, I know there's been other factors to all that (believe me, I'm well aware of that), but there has been a number of times, particularly in the last year, where I've swung from one mood to another without any logical explanation at all, and it's been driving me CRAZY!

(c) the whole fructose thing might also have something to do with why I've really struggled with being able to lose any weight. It's extremely frustrating to be completely careful of what you eat, how much you eat, exercising every day, etc, and still not be able to drop more than a pound or two in a month.

So now it's to the drawing board in terms of figuring out what I can eat, what I shouldn't eat, and even if this is actually what the problem is.

Ah the irony of life. The lesson here is: Don't eat your fruits and vegetables!


Amber said...

Please don't tell my husband that lesson, I have enough trouble trying to get a vegetable into him!

I'm sorry, though, because life without fruit...unimaginable. Good luck with finding out what works for you.

Diego said...

Too late! I now have incontrovertible proof that humans are meant to be carnivores! Sorry about the loss of wheat though. That means no bread and no noodles. That's, like, half your diet.

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