Sorbitol intolerance diet

Have you felt gastrointestinal discomfort, gas or diarrhea after eating some fruits, products Light or chewing gum? You might have sorbitol intolerance. Read on to know how to eat a low sorbitol diet.

What is sorbitol?

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that It is found naturally in red algae and in the leaves and fruits of family plants rosaceae as:

  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Quinces
  • Peaches or apricots

It is also widely used in the food industry as a sweetener, thickener and moisturizer, being able to sweeten by providing few calories.

Discover: Food intolerances: everything you need to know

What is sorbitol intolerance?

People with sorbitol intolerance may have digestive discomfort such as pain, swelling and gas.

Sorbitol intolerance It is caused by a deficit of a specific intestinal transporter. However, even in people without this deficit, a healthy person can only absorb a limited amount of this sugar, approximately 20-25 grams, so if it exceeds this margin it can also produce symptoms.

There are two types of intolerance to sorbitol:

  • Primary intolerance: It is caused by a deficit of the sorbitol transporter, GLUT5. It is believed that there is a genetic factor and that therefore it develops throughout life.
  • Secondary intolerance: There is no genetic influence but it occurs as a result of an intestinal disease (gastroenteritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, etc.) that damages the edge of the intestinal mucosa brush temporarily or permanently.


Patients affected by this condition they can present different symptoms that go from mild to severe. The most frequent include:

  • Abdominal or colic pain
  • Swelling
  • Bloating or bulging
  • Gas
  • Borborigmos
  • Diarrhea with abundant gas.

What foods have sorbitol?

If you are intolerant to sorbitol you will have to eat a diet low in foods that contain sorbitol. Foods with higher sorbitol content are:

Naturally (from highest to lowest amount)

  • Fresh fruits: pear, plum, peach, apricot, apple, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries.
  • Preserved fruits: apple juice, canned strawberries, red currant nectar, elderberry juice, blackcurrant nectar and canned raspberries.
  • Nuts: prunes, peach dried apricots, apricot dried apricots, dried apples, dried dates and raisins.


Chewing gum, as well as products Light and industrial pastries contain sorbitol.

We can find it both in food products as in cosmetic or pharmaceutical products as an additive. Sorbitol as an additive may appear as "Sorbitol" (E420i) or "Sorbitol syrup" (E420ii).

In food products it is present in jellies, jams, baked goods, frozen, chewing gum, products Light or "sugar free" products. You have to be careful with the products Light since abuse could trigger this type of intolerance.

In cosmetic products it is present in toothpastes, since it gives greater plasticity, sweet taste and better solubility. And of pharmaceutical application we can find them in topical creams and syrups.

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How can sorbitol intolerance be diagnosed?

Currently the Test of exhaled hydrogen can be considered as the best test for diagnosis. The inability of the body to absorb sorbitol makes it fermented by colon bacteria, producing a large amount of free hydrogen. This hydrogen is what is measured through exhaled air.

The patient must be fasting for a minimum of 8 hours. In the last 24 hours you must follow a diet without waste (not fruit, vegetables or legumes), since they slow down the intestinal transit. It is also important to avoid taking laxatives or antibiotics the previous days.

If the result of test It is positive, the degree that exists and the symptoms that appear to determine the diet are evaluated.

Nutritional recommendations for sorbitol intolerance

  • If you suspect that you have an intolerance, first is to get tested and do not modify the diet on your own.
  • Always check the nutritional labeling of a food to make sure it doesn't carry sorbitol
  • If you suffer from severe intolerance to sorbitol, before using cosmetic products or taking any medication ask the specialist about its composition.
  • Limit those fruits that contain the highest sorbitol content
  • Be careful if you consume regularly products Light and chewing gum containing sorbitol.

Are you worried about having this intolerance? If you have experienced its symptoms, consult your doctor to receive an accurate diagnosis. If so, make sure you have these recommendations for the diet.

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