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Can You Be Allergic to Sugar?

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<article> <section> <p>Ah sugar, our sweet friend. Sugar makes us happy and picks us up. But as we know, what goes up must come down. Many people have a love-hate relationship with sugar. This is because after our blood sugar spikes, it crashes, often leaving us tired and hungover.</p> <p>This is a common response to eating sugar for most people. But for some, eating sugar can make us feel more than hungover―it can make us feel downright sick.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll look at some of the reasons why eating sugar may be causing undesirable symptoms and what to look out for to determine if you’re allergic to it.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Sugar Allergy vs. Sugar Intolerance</header> <p>A few common questions people ask about eating sugar are: <i>can I be allergic to it?</i> and <i>what is sugar intolerance?</i> Let’s get to the bottom of these questions...</p> <p>The quick answers are yes, it is possible to be allergic to sugar. But, it’s not as common to have a sugar allergy as it is to have a <i>sugar intolerance</i>.</p> <div class="sub-head">Symptoms and Causes of a Sugar Allergy</div> <p>Simply put, a food allergy is when the immune system reacts quickly to get rid of what it perceives to be a threat. You or someone you know may have a food allergy to one of the most common allergens in the US: milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, or shellfish<sup>1</sup>. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) explains that food allergies may trigger common symptoms as:</p> <ul> <li>Cramping</li> <li>Diarrhea</li> <li>Congestion</li> <li>Wheezing</li> <li>Hives/Feeling itchy</li> <li>Tightness in throat, lips, and mouth</li> <li>Fast heart rate</li> </ul> <p>In more severe cases, a food allergy can cause <i>anaphylaxis</i>, which may include difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips or tongue, dizziness, and vomiting<sup>2</sup>. In this case, immediately see a doctor to find out if you need to be treated for an allergic reaction.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/hurt-stomach-image-0095.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/hurt-stomach-image-0095.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/hurt-stomach-image-0095.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/hurt-stomach-image-LR-0095.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="hurt-stomach-image-0095"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">Symptoms and Causes of Sugar Intolerance</div> <p>Rest assured, though it is possible to be allergic to sugar, it is rare. Having a sugar intolerance is more common. But, it can be tricky to decide which is which because a lot of the symptoms look the same!</p> <p>The main difference is that the immune system isn’t triggered with an intolerance. When you eat a culprit food that you are intolerant to, you may have similar symptoms to an allergy like:</p> <ul> <li>Cramping</li> <li>Diarrhea</li> <li>Congestion</li> <li>Wheezing</li> <li>Hives/Feeling itchy</li> <li>Gas</li> <li>Bloating</li> </ul> <p>But, unlike the immune response of an allergy, the Mayo Clinic explains that food intolerance is caused by your body <i>having a hard time digesting</i> a questionable food. If you are intolerant to a food, it may be caused by digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, a lack of certain enzymes, or prolonged stress<sup>3</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Types of Sugar</header> <p>Now, you may be asking, what kind of sugar are we talking about? It turns out there are lots! It's possible for someone to have an allergy or an intolerance to <i>specific types</i> of sugar as opposed to <i>all</i> sugar. Here are some common sugars that may trigger allergies or food intolerances:</p> <p> <table style="width:100%; border: 1px solid black;"> <tr> <td style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 10px;">Fructose</td> <td style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 10px;">A type of sugar found mainly in honey and fruit</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 10px;">Lactose</td> <td style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 10px;">A type of sugar found in milk and dairy products</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 10px;">Sucrose</td> <td style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 10px;">A type of sugar found in cane and beet sugar</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 10px;">Sugar Alcohols</td> <td style="border: 1px solid black; padding: 10px;">Types of sugars found in parts of plants like fruits and berries</td> </tr> </table> </p> <p>These types of sugar and others aren’t just found in sweet treats. They are also found in many types of fruits and veggies. The reason these types of sugars may cause an intolerance is because they are <i>short-chain carbohydrates</i>, which are harder to digest. This is especially the case for people with IBS or other digestive issues. As a matter of fact, <i>carbohydrates</i> (which make up all types of food, even the ones we think of as healthy) break down into glucose, a form of sugar, when you digest them. So, it’s good to be aware of what types of sugar and carbs you are eating if you are curious about a sugar allergy or intolerance.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/heart-bowl-of-food-and-doctor-equipment-0095.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/heart-bowl-of-food-and-doctor-equipment-0095.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/heart-bowl-of-food-and-doctor-equipment-0095.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/heart-bowl-of-food-and-doctor-equipment-LR-0095.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="heart-bowl-of-food-and-doctor-equipment-0095"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Not a Sugar Allergy or a Sugar Intolerance?</header> <p>What if your symptoms aren’t caused by a sugar allergy or a sugar intolerance? Let’s add one more option to the table. Eating sugar may be what triggers <i>other</i> pre-existing health conditions. So, you may not have a direct intolerance or allergy to sugar itself, but it’s relationship with other substances in your body may cause undesired reactions.</p> <div class="sub-head">Yeast</div> <p>One example would be if you have a yeast infection. <i>Yeast</i> feeds on glucose. This means that eating sugar or high-carb foods will cause the yeast to multiply<sup>4</sup>, causing unfriendly symptoms. As a matter of fact, foods that turn into sugar during the digestion process can cause inflammation and create disease, which may be reason to cut sugar out of your diet all together.</p> <div class="sub-head">Histamines</div> <p>If you have a histamine intolerance, sugar will also give you problems. <i>Histamine</i> is a naturally occurring substance created by the body to help fight allergic reactions. But, if your body produces too much histamine, or if it doesn’t produce enough <i>diamine oxidase</i> (DAO), the enzyme used to break down histamine, your body may exhibit many of the same allergy and intolerance symptoms we mention above. While sugar doesn’t trigger a histamine response directly, the dip in blood sugar after eating it alerts the body to produce more histamine<sup>5</sup>. Like diabetes, it’s important to watch how much sugar (and carbs) you eat in order to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Can a Food Allergy or Intolerance Be Cured?</header> <p>Unfortunately, if you do have a sugar allergy (to any of the types of sugars we’ve addressed), it cannot be cured or reversed. If eating the smallest amount of sugar quickly creates an allergic reaction, see a doctor immediately. Once you know exactly what you are allergic to, you will likely be able to find the right medications to help regulate your symptoms.</p> <p>With food intolerances, you can experiment to see how much of a certain food you can tolerate and which ones trigger you. Keep a food diary where you write down everything you eat in the day and track your symptoms. Overtime, you will be able to see patterns that point to your food intolerances. Once you know what foods are causing your symptoms, you may want to stop them.</p> <p>Often sugary culprits include: starchy veggies, alcohol, dairy products, fruit juices, soda, gluten, candy, and condiments. Not sure if these foods are in what you’re eating? Be sure to read nutrition labels to see if there are any hidden sugars. Sometimes they hide in sauces and dressings or other places we’d least expect. If it’s not possible to read a label, it doesn’t hurt to ask if you’re at a restaurant or grocery store.</p> <p>There may also be help in the form of supplementation! You can add <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/best-supplements-for-overall-health/" rel="noreferrer">supplements</a> to your diet that aid your <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/digestion-support/shop/" rel="noreferrer">digestion</a>, so that you can better break down and absorb certain foods. But, before you do this, or any of the options we’ve outlined, be sure to work with a healthcare practitioner who can help you get to the bottom of what foods you may have an intolerance to and which supplements are best to try. If you are someone with many food allergies or intolerances, you may need to be careful about how you go about addressing the issue.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/warrior-made-probiotic-0095.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/warrior-made-probiotic-0095.jpf" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/warrior-made-probiotic-0095.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/warrior-made-probiotic-LR-0095.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="warrior-made-probiotic-0095"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>The Not-So-Sweet Truth</header> <p>Even if you don’t have an allergy or intolerance, sugar has the power to worsen health issues like yeast infections, histamine intolerance, and diabetes. Overall, eating it can also cause inflammation and disease. So, while it may have been a favorite in the past, it really is best to avoid it.</p> <p>The good news is that there are ways to add a little sweetness to your life if you eliminate sugar. Check out the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-sweeteners-which-ones-to-use-which-to-avoid/" rel="noreferrer">plant-based and natural sweeteners</a> we recommend on our 14-Day keto-style diet. Also, even though most people think of sugar and carbohydrates as the best source of energy production, diets like the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">ketogenic diet</a> allow our body to produce energy from fats instead. So, if sugar is making you sick, know that there are ways around it!</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.foodallergy.org/life-with-food-allergies/food-allergy-101/what-is-a-food-allergy" rel="noreferrer"> What is a Food Allergy?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/sugar-allergy#symptoms" rel="noreferrer"> Do I Have a Sugar Allergy?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/expert-answers/food-allergy/faq-20058538" rel="noreferrer"> Food allergy vs. food intolerance: What's the difference?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1595344/" rel="noreferrer"> A Glucose Sensor in Candida albicans</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://alisonvickery.com.au/histamine-and-blood-sugar/" rel="noreferrer"> The Histamine, Mast-cell Activation, and Blood Sugar Connection</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317802.php" rel="noreferrer"> Can you be allergic to sugar?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.aafa.org/allergy-facts/" rel="noreferrer"> Allergy Facts and Figures</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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