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Complex Carbohydrate Intolerance

Complex Carbohydrate Intolerance

Complex carbohydrate intolerance is a condition wherein the body is unable to digest foods rich in complex carbohydrates, thereby causing discomfort and intolerance. This article will help you understand the causes, symptoms and treatment for this condition.
Shalu Bhatti
Speaking of complex carbohydrates, they form a major part of our daily food intake and is necessary when it comes to eating a healthy and a balanced diet. However, you would be surprised to know that there are some people who suffer from a rare condition known as 'Complex Carbohydrate Intolerance' (CCI), wherein they cannot tolerate consumption of complex carbohydrates because of their inability to digest them efficiently. Statistics reveal that almost 3% of the people in the United States of America suffer from this condition. This happens due to the absence or lack of the intestinal enzyme known as the alpha-galactosidase which plays an essential role in the digestion of the complex carbohydrates that we consume. This enzyme helps in breaking down these carbohydrates in the small intestine so that they can be transferred to the large intestine for further digestion. However, because this condition doesn't allow that to happen, the carbohydrates are transferred to the large intestine without breaking them down, which results in the discomfort and symptoms of CCI. All these will be explained as this article proceeds further.

Symptoms of Complex Carbohydrate Intolerance

Complex carbohydrates are more difficult to break down as compared to simple carbohydrates because of their molecular structure. While simple carbohydrates contain just one or two sugar molecules, complex carbohydrates consists of more than three sugar molecules, therefore taking more time to break down and digest. However, due to lack of the intestinal enzyme alpha-galactosidase, the unabsorbed and unbroken carbohydrates enter the large intestine leading to fermentation and bothering symptoms which are discussed as follows.

Formation of Gas
Though this symptom may be a little embarrassing in public, it sure is one of the most common symptom of complex carbohydrate intolerance. Because the small intestine is unable to process them, they move on to the bowel resulting in the formation of gas due to fermentation. Though this symptom ain't all that painful, it sure can put you in an awkward position in public.

Cramping Pain in the Abdomen
Abdominal pain is one of the most common and expected signs of CCI. The pain usually arises due to the gas formation in the bowel and the pressure it creates in the abdomen. The movement of the gas in the entire gastrointestinal system can lead to extreme pain and discomfort in the abdominal section.

Another most common symptom of CCI is bloating of the abdomen. When your abdomen bloats up, you would experience an uncomfortable feeling of fullness and heaviness in your lower abdomen. This again occurs due to the gas formation and movement in the abdomen.

Although this symptom may not be as prevalent as compared to the other ones, one can still associate this symptom with this condition. Again, the cause behind this symptom is the formation of gas in the body which needs way to release itself resulting to burping.

In severe conditions, the person may also suffer from diarrhea, in which case immediate medical attention should be provided to the patient. Cramping, diarrhea, and nausea can be expected at the same time in severe cases of CCI.

How to Treat Complex Carbohydrate Intolerance

If you can associate yourself with the aforementioned symptoms then you must get in touch with your healthcare specialist as soon as possible. These symptoms may be deceiving at times and therefore may be confused with other health conditions. However, you must get yourself checked just to be on the safer side. The best way to treat CCI is to simply avoid excessive intake of complex carbohydrates in the diet. You can go for simple carbohydrates which are easily digested by the stomach as compared to complex carbohydrates. Your doctor may check you individual symptoms and may ask you to refrain from foods rich in complex carbohydrates like wheat, rye, and barley. He or she may also suggest a diet for you if needed. Also there are many over the counter medications that can be used to get relief from flatulence and abdominal pain. These include various pain killers, gas remedies and muscle relaxants.

Though this condition is not all that common, it sure can bring a lot of discomfort to the ones going through its symptoms. I believe that our body gives us clues whenever it needs helps. So, never take them lightly and take all the necessary steps to keep your body healthy and happy... start by getting yourself checked by the doctor.