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Food Intolerances

Do you suspect that food is causing or worsening your gastrointestinal symptoms? The Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (JRC) can help. In addition to working closely with our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to identify food triggers, healthcare professionals at JRC can perform breath testing to determine if you are experiencing intolerance or malabsorption of certain types of carbohydrates. The following are examples of food intolerances the JRC can diagnose and treat utilizing breath testing approaches:

Lactose Intolerance

If you experience gas, bloating, abdominal pain or diarrhea shortly after eating milk products, particularly milk or ice cream, you might be lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance happens when your body cannot digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk. This is different than a milk allergy. Lactose intolerance occurs when there is not enough lactase, an enzyme produced by the small intestine that is required to break down lactose. If lactose is not digested and absorbed in the small intestine, it moves into the large intestine where it is fermented by bacteria, which can result in uncomfortable abdominal symptoms.  

Fructose Malabsorption

Fructose is a simple sugar found in fruit, some vegetables, high fructose corn syrup, honey, granulated sugar and agave syrup. There is no shortage of fructose in our present-day food supply. Our bodies have a limited ability to absorb fructose, and even healthy individuals can experience abdominal pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea as a result of overindulgence in fruit, fruit juice, sugary sweets, and honey-sweetened snack bars. However, people who experience fructose malabsorption can feel sick in response to much smaller portions of fructose.  

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, are sometimes the result of a condition known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO occurs when excessive amounts of bacteria migrate into the small intestine, typically from the colon. Too much bacteria in the small intestine can contribute to an array of gastrointestinal symptoms, including excess gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. People with SIBO often feel better when they eliminate certain types of highly fermentable, poorly absorbed carbohydrates from their diet.

Sucrose Intolerance or CSID

Congenital Sucrase-Isomaltase Deficiency (CSID) is a condition that can cause a range of symptoms from mild to severe, including diarrhea, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. Individuals have impaired ability to produce the enzyme complex sucrase-isomaltase, which is crucial in the digestion of many carbohydrates. The malabsorption of sucrose-containing foods can subsequently cause uncomfortable GI symptoms and, in some cases, malnutrition. The JRC offers both hydrogen breath testing and take-home carbon-13 breath testing to aid in the diagnosis of CSID or other types of sucrose intolerances.

Patients with any of the above conditions may be treated with a variety of personalized medical, supplemental, and nutritional approaches to aid in symptom management and/or resolution.

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Jill Roberts Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Weill Cornell Medical Center
1283 York Avenue
9th Floor
New York, NY 10065