Do Sugar Allergies Exist?


Sugar can be found in more foods than you think and is very hard to avoid in day-to-day life. While it does play an important role in daily diets, too much sugar can be very unhealthy. In fact, some people may have an allergy or an intolerance to sugar.

What is Sugar?

Sugar plays an important role in any diet. Having too much sugar can lead to weight gain and other complications, but sugar is a fuel for our bodies. There are seven types of sugars found in food:

  • Glucose is the body’s main fuel source.

  • Fructose can be naturally found in fruit, but is also marketed as a natural cane sugar-free replacement.

  • Sucrose is table sugar and is a combination of glucose and fructose.

  • Dextrose is added to processed foods as a sweetener and is chemically the same as glucose.

  • Maltose, or malt sugar, is found in foods that have malt and barley.

  • Lactose, or milk sugar, is found in mainly dairy foods and added to breads, processed snacks, and baked goods. This sugar is made up of galactose and glucose.

  • Galactose is found in legumes and dairy products.

Sugar Intolerance vs Allergies

To learn more about the differences between intolerance and allergies, check out our blog post.

Sugar Intolerance

Sugar Intolerance is still rare but more common than sugar allergies. When it comes to intolerance, your body has issues digesting sugar and breaking it down. Typically, symptoms can show up three days after sugar is consumed. Symptoms for sugar intolerance are:

  • Itchy Skin

  • Bloating

  • Headaches

  • Depression

  • Tiredness

  • Mental Fogginess

  • Lethargy

An example of sugar intolerance is lactose intolerance. Up to sixty five percent of people around the world experience some form of lactose intolerance. Those with glucose intolerance may have type 2 diabetes or have prediabetes.

Sugar Allergies

True sugar allergies are very rare, says Cynthia Sass, RD, a nutrition editor. It is more likely that you have sugar intolerance than allergies. Like other allergies, sugar allergies are caused by your immune system viewing sugar as an intruder instead of food. Sugar allergies develop within two hours of eating sugar. The common symptoms for sugar allergies are:

  • Hives

  • Stomach Cramps

  • Vomiting

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat

  • Wheezing

  • Shortness of Breath

While there is sugar in milk, having a milk allergy does not mean you have a sugar allergy. Milk allergies are tied to proteins, not lactose.

What if I Have a Sugar Intolerance or Allergy?

Always contact your doctor if you notice signs of allergies or food intolerances. The symptoms you are experiencing may be tied to another food.

If you do have an intolerance or allergy of sugar, learn which type of sugar you have problems with and begin to read labels of everything. Intolerances and allergies can be for processed and natural forms of sugar. Some common places you can find sugar are:

  • Fruits and juices

  • Milk

  • Condiments like ketchup, jelly, syrup

  • Nut butter and milk

  • Soft drinks and sweetened coffee or tea

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Desserts, Baked Goods and candy

Reading labels and looking for sugars will take time and diligence. Many foods have hidden sugars in forms of sweeteners. Sugar substitutes can be a good way to avoid intolerances and allergies. Research says that artificial sweeteners can play a role in developing glucose intolerance.


What are your thoughts on sugar allergies? Do you know of someone who has either sugar allergies or intolerance? Share your opinions and stories with us in the comments below!

Stef PenrodComment