Fructose Malabsorption and Depression?

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If you have fructose malabsorption you can eat strawberries in moderation!

Yes, a question because I don't know much about it. But on this blog I have talked before about being depressed after eating too many carbohydrates for too many days in a row and how much better I felt after going on the Leptin Reset. Now after reading the article I'm about to share with you, I'm wondering if it's actually fructose, not carbohydrates.

Before I get started though, let's see what Dr. Natasha says about fructose malabsorption.

37. Does the GAPS diet heal fructose malabsorption, or would the GAPS diet need to be modified?

This condition is part of GAP Syndrome as well as lactose intolerance and most-sugars-intolerance. Why? Because in people with abnormal gut flora enterocytes (the cells which line the gut) are damaged and unable to fulfil their main function: digestion of sugars. The fructose malabsorption became prominent since high-fructose corn syrup came on the market: this is a processed sweetener which is extremely harmful to health. But as it is cheap to produce and very profitable for the manufacturers many processed foods and drinks are sweetened with it nowadays. GAPS diet removes double sugars and there is no need to modify it. If you have been specifically diagnosed with fructose malabsorption, you may want to avoid fruit and honey [affiliate link] initially. As you go through the GAPS Introduction Diet, your enterocytes will start recovering and you will be able to re-introduce honey and fruit.

So this is encouraging. Maybe I will try another round of introduction at some point in time and avoid fruit and honey for a few months, and re-introduce.

A few years before I started GAPS I avoided eating fruit because it affected me negatively. I could feel my blood sugar drop and I would feel nervous, shaky and short tempered. Noise of any kind bothered me and living in a household with three loud males – that was a problem. I found it was best to avoid fruit. Besides it's expensive and more calories that I don't need, I thought.

After being on GAPS for awhile, I don't remember how long, my blood sugar regulated nicely and I found that I could eat fruit without any side effects. Whoohoo! How awesome to be able to eat a handful of grapes, a large piece of watermelon, a banana, apple, pineapple even on an empty stomach and no side effects.

So I thought. Because then time and again I noticed if I had fruit for several days in a row, there was a cumulative effect. I wouldn't really notice what was happening until I was sliding into a pit of depression. I would think “Why is GAPS not working for me, I'm depressed again?!” I wrote about it several times, and I always think I will learn my lesson THIS TIME.

But then I conveniently forget, because fruit is legal on GAPS, after all. I guess I forget. I just slide back into having fruit again.

I have adapted pretty well to sticking to the full GAPS list of foods. So when I have to give up one more thing, I find myself rebelling. I have already given up a lot to stay on full GAPS. Most of the time it's no big deal. I totally love not having to eat every 2-3 hours. I love that so much, it is definitely worth it. I spent several years having to be concerned about food almost every waking moment, it seemed, and then during the night as well. I never have liked eating fast food and I succumbed at times, but for the most part I brought a food bag with me so that I would never be without food. Now I can eat my big protein breakfast and I can easily go without lunch and not eat for 12 or 16 hours and I'm perfectly okay. I might have some hunger pangs about midway through that stretch of time, but they quickly fade away. Trying to do that five years ago I would have been a total mess.

About a week ago one of my Facebook friends messaged me with a comment and link to this post by Paleo blogger Peggy from Primal Parent: IBS, Depression, and Skin Problems in Fructose Malabsorption. My friend said, “I understand what you mean about Fructose issues now” and she went on to tie in with the genetic mutation MTHFR, “[The] Article says fructose either causes IBS or contributes after damage to gut. I always figured fruit was healthy and never understood WHY is was bad. Since fructose has to be converted to glucose in the body (by the LIVER) this makes it tough on people with liver challenges like MTHFR who are already deficient in glutathionine. I read the human body can only handle / convert so much and some people can't convert very much.”

With my two copies of C677T, the most challenging version of the mutation, this fructose malabsorption could well be another piece of my health puzzle.

Here are the symptoms for fructose malabsorption:

  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Itching and rashes
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Depression and low serum tryptophan concentrations
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Colic in babies

As I read one part of the Peggy's post, I thought to myself I could have written it – just insert GAPS for the word Paleo: “I’ve mentioned countless times on this blog that, while going Paleo initially helped with many of my symptoms, it wasn’t the cure all that I had hoped for.” Peggy goes on to mention her issues which were bloating, skin issues and depression.

I have no IBS issues, and while I don't really feel like I'm bloated, although my stomach does appear to protrude when I look down at my body (my reflection straight on in the mirror does not seem to reflect the same degree of protrusion), and I do not have skin problems, I do battle with occasional depression and it sucks.


This journey is so confusing at times. I have so many areas that I need to address, but money is an issue. I cannot afford all organic everything, and grass fed only meats. I can't afford soy-free feed for my chickens but at least I have “free range” eggs [affiliate link]. We live in the desert and haul our own water so I can't put them out on pasture. I need to have 11 amalgams removed. Maybe I need hormone replacement therapy. I have the reverse T3 problem (thyroid). I won't go back to the naturopathic doctor which I saw in January but have found one I would like to try, but it costs over $300 for the first visit. I should order the tests myself but there again, the funds are not available. I could go further into debt but before too long I will not be able to afford to make the minimums so that is not an attractive option for me at this point.


Giving up so many more foods seems too difficult. And yet, if I have fructose malabsorption I could be damaging my gut. Here are the foods containing fructose which Peggy lists:

  • Fruit juice
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit concentrates
  • Melons
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Guava
  • Mango
  • Pomegranate
  • Whole corn
  • Honey
  • Agave
  • Tomato paste
  • Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup
  • Wine – dry wines might be ok in moderation

Peggy also says to avoid fructans:

This past week I have had the following of the foods listed above:

Remember the good news about GAPS though. We can heal and seal our gut lining and maybe I will only have to avoid these foods for a few months.

Peggy also referenced this article at Psychology Today by Dr. Emily Deans: Could Soda and Sugar Be Causing Your Depression? and this article discusses low levels of zinc. A friend of mine has urged me to test for zinc and even sent me the name of the test that I should have done (but I cannot find it in my inbox).

So many things to try to figure out when my m.o. is stick my head in the sand. But eliminating fruits that contain fructose is not too difficult.

So that's where I'm at today.


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10 thoughts on “Fructose Malabsorption and Depression?

  1. Very interesting info. I have experienced similar things when eating fruit although it has gotten better after being on the GAPS diet for 2 years! I still dont go overboard and only eat fruit maybe once or twice a week in small quantities. But its nice to be able to eat a little fruit here and there!

  2. whoa, starlene…my jaw nearly dropped when i saw your post today. we both started gaps approximately the same time. while gaps helped, i still was having serious fatigue issues after eating most meals and lots of bloating. i never thought fodmaps was my issue because i don’t have any pain. but something my sister said made me think of trying it, and, oh my god…i am SO much better. i’m still doing a lot of experimenting, as it’s very individual. for some reason, broth has also been a huge culprit. my god, i was having it everyday, often twice a day for two years! i need to experiment to see if it is the apple cider vinegar, onions, or amines which were bothering me.

    anyway…we seem to be on the same path, yet again! look forward to seeing your updates!

  3. Hi Starlene, I too have some of these symptoms. After being on Gaps for almost 2.5 years, I am still suffering from depression and anxiety. I think I will let go of the fruit for a while too. It is hard to believe that I should also give up coconut products and onions! These are consumed daily! What is a girl to do? I just want to feel better. I also suffer from extreme fatigue too. Oh well, I guess I will have to continue to give things up until I figure out what is going on with me. Thanks for the article.


  4. Hi Linnae, I am glad to hear you are able to eat fruit occasionally – I am really having a hard time with this new possibility. I have so many recipes I have in my head that I want to make that use *honey* and *fruit* but I cannot create recipes and then not try them myself to see how they taste! I keep telling myself, and was telling my husband just this morning that it might be only for a few weeks/couple months to heal my gut. But who knows? There are some fruits that are allowed, and bananas are one, whew. But in moderation. Probably once or twice a week would be moderate… like 1/2 banana each time. But I am not sure. It is frustrating because the fruit/honey may be causing my depression, but I feel depressed at the thought of having to restrict my diet even further. I am working my towards the restrictions though… I especially can’t hardly stand the thought of restricting onions and garlic! I wish I could get the test done – but I just did a bit of googling and find that one source states it is somewhat unreliable and almost always returns a positive result, even though only about 33% of “all people” are affected. So I guess the best thing to do is just remove it and see if it can be reintroduced. *sigh*

  5. Hi Churyl, I was wondering how you are doing. I have heard of FODMAPS – is that the same thing as fructose malabsorption? I know what you mean about the experimenting. We all have to find out what works best for each of us. I forget, have you had thyroid and adrenal testing done? I hope onions and garlic aren’t a problem for me… because I use them almost every single day. It just seems so difficult. I have still not wrapped my brain around restricting more foods although I haven’t had any fruit or honey in days. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

  6. Kathy, that’s exactly where I’m at. Dairy and me don’t get along (respiratory issues) so coconut milk has been a life saver in that area. I guess nut milks are next, but then there is the aspect of nuts being heavy in Omega 6s (or is it Omega 3s?!). I eat onions and garlic almost every single day, too. Thanks for letting me know where you are at, it helps that I’m not the only one having a hard time with the possibility of giving up these foods. I feel like it will be forever. 🙁 But I guess I need to just accept it and move on. The one thing that does get me thinking is the part where she says the gut is being damaged. I don’t like the sound of that, and I don’t want to cause harm to my body. Really, what’s more important? Energy and happy moods? Or honey and fruit? The former, of course, but but but… 🙂

  7. Hi girls, I have been experiencing the same issues and discovered I was fructmal after taking a garlic supplement that caused lots of pain. I was on Gaps for a year and started out introducing a little fruit, fine then more and before i knew it was severely depressed, increased fatigue, irritability, anger, anxiety. I had also stopped taking the probiotic supplement and only ate saurkrout. i have decided i will do anything to feel better. going to do gaps intro again, maybe without onion and carrot in broth, more herbs for flavour? and hopefully get better. Have read about bifidis being important for fructose digestion. also a product Jarrow N Acetyl Glucosamine 750g and Jarrow Glucosamine HCI Mega 1000 mg. Apparently this heals biofilm (IS this Gut LIning?) and heals fructose malabsorbtion. I think you need to take it continuously if bad bacteria still present. Another product my doctor prescribed is Intestamine, to heal gut lining. good luck to us all.

  8. Erma, thanks for letting me know about this. I will look into the Glucosamine, I do have some… only I see the second one you mention also contains HCI. Hmmm… thanks for sharing and good luck in your health journey!

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