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More Bloated in the Fall? Here's Why.

U.S. News & World Report - Health logo U.S. News & World Report - Health 10/11/2017 Tamara Duker Freuman

Feel more bloated in the fall? This could be why © Shutterstock Feel more bloated in the fall? This could be why If you've lived with digestive issues for any amount of time, you've probably learned through trial and error how to keep symptoms at bay by carefully curating your daily dietary choices. Start off the day with a bowl of oatmeal berries and maple syrup? Check. Choose bananas over apples for your mid-morning snack? Check. Steer clear of late-night ice cream? Check. Use almond milk instead of regular milk in your latte? Check.

But once October arrives, many of my patients find that their once well-controlled digestive symptoms start flaring anew. Quite often, here's why:

'Tis a Season Laden With Lactose

My lactose intolerant patients know to avoid milk in their year-round cereal and coffee, and recognize that they'll pay a steep price for overdoing it on ice cream. But often, they don't know where lactose lurks in some seasonal treats. If you're prone to gas, bloating or diarrhea when you exceed your daily threshold of lactose, beware of the following:

  • Fun-sized Halloween candy bars and caramels: Candy bars are probably not part of your daily diet, and those tiny fun-sized versions that appear in your house around Halloween don't contain ingredient listings on their itty-bitty wrappers. So you can be forgiven for not realizing that skim milk and pure lactose are among the first few ingredients in many leading chocolate bars. Caramels are also made with milk, so pay attention to portions of those, as well.
  • PSLs: It's hard to resist the ubiquitous pumpkin spice lattes offered by leading cafe chains nationwide, but don't forget that the liquid base of a lattes is milk. If you've had the foresight to request your latte be made with soy milk instead of regular milk, don't be shocked if you still find yourself gassy and bloated several hours later: Soy milk is essentially bean juice, and can be gassy in its own right.
  • Thanksgiving potatoes and pumpkin pie: We typically don't think of mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie as being dairy-based, but both can potentially harbor a substantial lactose load. The yummier the mashed potatoes, the more likely that they contain a heavy-handed pour of milk or cream. Similarly, it's quite common for pumpkin pies to contain sweetened condensed milk – a highly-concentrated source of lactose. Do your due diligence before digging in, or prepare to suffer the digestive consequences.

Sea salt caramel truffles: If you're lactose intolerant, eat fun-sized candies and caramels at your own risk. © (Getty Images) If you're lactose intolerant, eat fun-sized candies and caramels at your own risk. Fending Off Fructose

While many people are familiar with lactose intolerance, fewer people are familiar with fructose intolerance. But it's a thing – and a surprisingly common one at that. People who are fructose intolerant aren't able to absorb significant amounts of fructose, a naturally-occurring sugar found in honey, agave nectar, certain fruits, jams and juices. It's often added to soft drinks and low-calorie snacks as well. Just as people who are lactose intolerant experience gas, bloating and diarrhea when they consume too much dairy, people who are fructose intolerant often have the same symptoms when they unknowingly load up on fructose-containing foods. If any of these aforementioned foods have given you trouble in the past, read on to see where else fructose hides this season.

  • Caramel apples: This seasonal staple of fall festivals will do a number on your gut if you're fructose intolerant. Apples are among the higher fructose fruits to begin with, and that's before they're coated with a thick layer of commercial caramel that may be made with high-fructose corn syrup. Even if you make your own caramel sauce from pure sugar, the caramelization process will change its chemical structure and liberate the fructose, freeing it up to incite your intestines into bloating rebellion.
  • Gummy and gooey Halloween candy: I've noticed that many candy manufacturers have removed high-fructose corn syrup from their product formulations, probably due to the additive's unpopularity among consumers. But other ingredients common to candy can give a fructose-intolerant gut some trouble. In addition to pure fructose, be on the lookout for ingredients like "invert sugar" and any kind of fruit juice concentrate. These are often found in gummy-type candies (I'm looking at a certain fish-shaped treat of Scandinavian origin, ja?) and chocolate treats with ooey-gooey fillings.
  • Canned or jellied cranberry sauce: Cranberries are a naturally low-fructose fruit, and if you make Thanksgiving cranberry sauce from scratch using real sugar, the end product should remain low in fructose. But the canned, jellied version typically contains high-fructose corn syrup, which may spell trouble for some.

If you just can't handle the holiday season without these treats – digestive consequences be damned – it may be worth trying to pop a properly-selected digestive enzyme supplement right before digging in. Lactase supplements are widely available to help lactose-intolerant people digest dairy foods, and I recommend seeking out brands that don't contain fillers like mannitol or sorbitol that can be gassy of their own accord. You're more likely to find such brands at a specialty supplement store than your typical pharmacy or supermarket. Similarly, a newer enzyme called xylose isomerase – marketed under the brand name FructosAid 88 – may help fructose-intolerant folks absorb this sugar more completely so it wreaks less digestive havoc.

Slideshow: 11 Diet Supplements: Are They Worth the Money? (Courtesy: Cheapism) 

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY: <p>Unless you eat a perfectly <a href="http://www.cheapism.com/blog/cheap-healthy-meal-plans/">balanced diet</a> and soak up plenty of sunshine, you might need a diet supplement. But before dropping dough on a bottle of pills, it's best to determine if you really need them by checking with your doctor. Here's what science has to say about some of the most common supplements.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong><a href="http://www.cheapism.com/blog/costco-health-savings-14434/">17 Health Products and Services That Cost Less at Costco</a></p> 11 Diet Supplements: Are They Worth the Money?

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