In sorbitol intolerance, the absorption of sorbitol in the small intestine is completely or partially disturbed. Sorbitol then enters the large intestine, where it is metabolised by bacteria, with the result of increased development of gases that can lead to considerable flatulence.
Typical symptoms of sorbitol intolerance are flatulence, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue and a feeling of fullness.
In order to diagnose a sorbitol intolerance with certainty, a so-called sorbitol-H2 breath test can be carried out, as with other intolerances. This test measures the amount of hydrogen that is produced during the bacterial metabolism of sorbitol in the large intestine.
If a sorbitol intolerance is present, foods containing sorbitol should be avoided as far as possible. If you are hypersensitive to sorbitol (E 420), you should also avoid other sugar alcohols, including mannitol (E 421), isomalt (E 953), maltitol (E 965), lactitol (E 966) and xylitol (E 967).
Since sorbitol is used in many ready-made or semi-finished products, but also in chewing gums, you must avoid these products if possible. Sorbitol is often used as a sugar substitute in foods specially made for diabetics. But fruits also often have a high sorbitol content.
Fruits rich in sorbitol include peaches, pears, cherries, plums, apples, apricots and grapes.