Let me just get this straight. Sugar is not “safe” for the human body. In Paleolithic times humans didn’t have access to sugar as we know it. Other than unrefined honey and whole fruit, they didn’t eat sugar. But even the natural sugar, fructose, can be toxic to the liver and disruptive to hormone balance when eaten frequently and in large quantities. And for many of us, around 20-50%, fructose is just plain poison.
But with no other Paleo options, our tongues shall never taste sweetness again? Considered over the course of one’s lifetime, this is sad, unfair, and not very realistic.
So what are you to do when you or your kids want a sweet treat? You can’t have fruit, you can’t have honey, and even table sugar contains 50% fructose (the other 50% is glucose) and can’t be tolerated in any significant quantity. So what then?
If you said, forget about it and move on, you are my new best friend. If you said tough it out and pay the consequences, at least you’re aware. If you said, nothing, I like my sweets and I’ll eat them no matter what, what are you even doing on this page anyway? And if you said, find a tolerable alternative, I’m about to make your day.
There is a sugar which is safer for the fructose malabsorber.
Glucose (also known as dextrose) is a monosaccharide or simple sugar that is about 20% less sweet compared to cane sugar. It is derived entirely from corn, is low-cost, and contains no fructose or lactose.
Glucose (AKA dextrose) is a person’s chief source of energy. It does not need to be processed by the liver and isn’t broken down by our gut’s microbes. For most of us, it is our primary source of fuel (some others burn fat for fuel) obtained by the break down of starches.
It is available as a powder which can be used like sugar in fresh lemonade or pumpkin pie.
What About Corn Syrup (not high fructose)?
Corn syrup is derived by first adding the enzyme α-amylase to a mixture of corn starch and water and then adding γ-amylase to the resulting product. This is the process which transforms corn starch into glucose. To further derive fructose or HFCS manufacturers will add the enzyme D-xylose isomerase.
Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are not the same thing.
However, corn syrup probably isn’t a good alternative for fructose malabsorbers. Aside from the fact that α-amylase is generally GMO and the corn used in the production of corn syrup is also typically GMO these days, the finished product of corn syrup can have fructose or maltose added to it in varying amounts in the final stages of processing. (I emailed Karo to find out how much fructose they add to their corn syrup and never heard a reply.)
Now, none of this is even remotely Paleo as it is derived from corn, which is a grain. But if you or your kids have fructose malabsorption, glucose is a digestible carbohydrate and will not cause the pain associated with FM.