What Symptoms does Sorbitol Intolerance cause?

For those with sorbitol intolerance, the absorption capacity for sorbitol is even lower than it is in the average person. The sorbitol migrates completely into the large intestine, where bacteria break down the molecule. The resulting gases lead to severe flatulence and abdominal cramps. Moreover, sorbitol has water-binding properties, which often manifests as diarrhea.

Individuals with sorbitol intolerance experience symptoms that are also typical for other carbohydrate malabsorptions (such as fructose intolerance or lactose intolerance), even in the smallest amounts, including:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms usually occur 30-120 minutes after the consumption of sorbitol-containing foods.

Even in otherwise healthy individuals, larger quantities of sorbitol have a laxative effect due to the limited digestibility and the water-binding property of the sugar. 

Further reading:

What is sorbitol intolerance?

Diagnosing sorbitol intolerance

Treatment for sorbitol intolerance