Carbohydrate Malabsorption and Diet - Clinical Management

What do my breath test results mean?

Diagnosis of fructose, lactose and/or sorbitol malabsorption

Breath tests assessing absorption of these dietary sugars are undertaken in order to determine their role in the induction of gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, pain, wind and altered bowel habits.

Positive breath tests indicating malabsorption suggest that you will benefit from a diet restricted in these dietary sugars.

Negative breath tests indicate you absorb the test sugar(s) completely, but this does not mean there is not a diet able to improve your symptoms.

There are other forms of dietary carbohydrates/sugars that can trigger symptoms for which breath testing is unsuitable. All of these carbohydrates/sugars come under the term FODMAP, which stands for the Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols, describing their potential to increase gas production in the bowel, leading to symptoms of bloating, wind and pain.

The dietary strategy of reducing such sugars (low FODMAP diet) has only been formally researched since 2005. The research continues to evolve and as such, information available over the internet and in books is mostly out of date. We therefore encourage you to see a dietitian specialising in the area of fructose malabsorption and gastrointestinal conditions.

Breath tests suggestive of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or rapid transit

A positive glucose breath test, and an early rise in breath hydrogen during the lactulose breath test are indicative of SIBO. SIBO refers to an overpopulation of bacteria in the small intestine. The narrow lumen of the small intestine suggests that when bacterial fermentation and associated gas production occurs in the small intestine, this may increase the severity of symptoms of bloating and abdominal pain. It is not possible to diagnose SIBO conclusively, however. These breath tests are used to indicate a sign of SIBO, when antibiotics may be trialed. It may well be that diet can assist SIBO, by reducing ingestion of poorly absorbed sugars and consequently gas production in the small bowel, so again consultation with a specialist dietitian is recommended.

For further information about Carbohydrate Malabsorption please read the article:

Where do I seek advice regarding my diet?

Gastrolab recommends the following Accredited Practising Dietitians:

Dr Jaci Barrett and Associates at Diet Solutions

Dr Jaci Barrett is one of the leading researchers involved in the development of the diet for fructose malabsorption and the low FODMAP diet. Jaci and some of her team members continue to be directly involved in the research and can therefore provide you with the latest information. Diet Solutions also specialise in the management of other gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, Coeliac disease, Gastroparesis, irritable bowel syndrome and other functional gut disorders, as well as being able to provide advice on weight management, heart health and diabetes management if required.

Based in Melbourne, Diet Solutions strive to provide their clients with the latest evidence-based dietary strategies. Their commitment to remain involved in research and to publish literature on dietary management of gastrointestinal disorders continues to ensure they are recognised as experts in their field.

Diet Solutions

Telephone: 1300 422 498
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Skype consultations available.

Charlene Grosse and Associates at Specialised Nutrition Care

As Perth’s leading dietitians in the management of IBS, the low-FODMAP diet, and fructose/ sorbitol/lactose malabsorption, Specialised Nutrition Care will guide you to manage your gastrointestinal disease and/or food intolerance using food as Medical Nutrition Therapy. Through understanding your condition and the relationship with food you will be able to improve your digestive health in the longer term.

Specialised Nutrition Care

Telephone: (08) 9382 9426
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Skype consultations available.

Patient Information:

For Patient Information, including, information about what happens during the test and test preparation, please read the article:

Contact Us

Phone: 1300 624 771
Fax: (03) 9331 4198

Head Office: Level 1 456 Lower Heidelberg Road Heidelberg VIC 3084

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