Sucrose and starch intolerance

In addition to various FODMAP groups that some people cannot break down properly, it is also possible that your body has difficulties breaking down sucrose and starch. And that this causes complaints.

If that is the case you might have a sucrose and starch intolerance. In this blog, I will explain more about what this is and how you can recognize it.

What is starch?

Starch and sucrose are both carbohydrates. Carbohydrates can consist of one molecule (monosaccharide), two molecules (disaccharides), or multiple molecules (oligo- and polysaccharides).

If you follow the low FODMAP diet, this may sound familiar. For example, fructose is a monosaccharide, lactose is a disaccharide, and fructans and galactans are oligosaccharides.

Starch is a polysaccharide. Polysaccharides consist of at least 10 molecules. Starch consists of amylose and amylopectin, which are two chains of glucose molecules.

In your intestines, these are broken down by enzymes until single-molecule sugars (glucose) remain, which can be easily absorbed in the small intestine. There they are converted into energy.

Four different enzymes do the splitting of the glucose chains. This starts in the mouth with the enzyme amylase. The enzymes maltase, isomaltase, and glucoamylase are present in the intestines. Together, these ensure that the starch is broken down into glucose.

What is sucrose?

Sucrose is a disaccharide. This means that sucrose consists of two molecules of loose sugars: one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose.

These molecules must also be split into separate molecules before the body can easily absorb them. This is done with the digestive enzyme sucrase or invertase.

Which products contain starch and sucrose?


Starch is mainly found in grain products. Think of wheat, barley, corn, buckwheat, oats and soy. And in products made with this.

Think of all bread products, for example, bread, rolls, croissants, crackers, etc., and all types of pasta.

Starch can also be found in rice, quinoa, and potatoes.

In addition, it is often found in processed products, such as ready-made cookies, cake, candy, breakfast cereals, ready-made meals, breaded meat, and fish. Some sauces also have starch added.

In addition, there are a few fruits and vegetables that contain starch. For example parsnip, cassava, and banana.


Sucrose is mainly found in processed products. It is often added to ready-made sweet bread products, cakes, and cookies. And it is in all types of sugar.

You will also find it in drinks that contain sugar, dairy products with sugar, and fish, meat, or meat substitutes to which sugar has been added. It is sometimes also found in sauces and spice mixes.

In addition, sucrose occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables. Such as pineapple, apple, peach, plum, banana, honeydew melon, tangerine, mango, and orange (this is not a complete list). And for example in parsnips, beetroot, celery, sweet corn, and carrot.

What is starch and sucrose intolerance?

If there is insufficient or no sucrase in the intestine to split sucrose into loose molecules, then there is a sucrase deficiency. If you have a sucrase deficiency, you cannot break down sucrose properly in the small intestine. That is called sucrose intolerance.

There may also be a sucrase-isomaltase deficiency (SID). Then there is a deficiency in the intestines of the enzymes sucrase and isomaltase.

Sucrase breaks down sucrose and isomaltase breaks down maltose and isomaltose, which are components of starch. In this case, there is starch and sucrose intolerance.

In addition, some people have CSID (congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency). This is a congenital condition in which sucrase and isomaltase are also insufficiently present in the intestines to break down sucrose and starch.

What are the symptoms if you cannot digest starch and sucrose properly?

If you cannot digest starch and sucrose properly, these sugars are not broken down properly in the small intestine. They then proceed to the large intestine, where they ferment. This often causes gas formation and the attraction of water, which can cause complaints.

Common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Stomach ache
  • Stomach cramps
  • Excessive flatulence

How common is starch and sucrose intolerance?

Starch and sucrose intolerance is not very common in Europe. About 1 in 5,000 people have a sucrase-isomaltase deficiency.

In native populations of Canada, Alaska, and Greenland up to 1 in 10 individuals might have sucrase-isomaltase deficiency. 

1 in 1000 adults with chronic diarrhea are likely to have some degree of CSID (Source).

How do you find out if you have starch and sucrose intolerance?

As you can see, the symptoms of starch and sucrose intolerance are similar to other intolerances. For example, similar complaints may occur if you react to one of the groups of the FODMAP diet, lactose, fructose, galactans, fructans, or polyols.

What can you do if you suspect that you are suffering from starch and sucrose? It is possible to have an intolerance test carried out. Tests that exist for this are a hydrogen breath test and enzyme activity tests.

In addition, it is possible to use an elimination diet to determine whether your complaints decrease when you significantly reduce the intake of starch and sucrose. You then exclude starch and sucrose from your diet as much as possible for a short period.

This is similar to what you do in the elimination phase of the FODMAP diet. But in this situation, you temporarily eliminate sucrose and starches. 

This means that almost all processed foods should be avoided and that you eat mainly pure and unprocessed foods.

It is also possible to try supplements that contain the enzymes sucrase (or invertase) and glucoamylase to see whether this reduces the complaints. 

If you suspect that you are reacting to starch or sucrose, it is always advisable to contact your doctor. They can investigate this further with you.

Invertase and glucoamylase supplement

If you suffer from sugar (sucrose) and starch intolerance, the supplement Starchway by Intoleran might be worth trying. 

This product contains the digestive enzymes invertase (sucrase or saccharase) and glucoamylase (or amyloglucosidase). These are the enzymes that people with sucrose and starch intolerance don’t produce enough of. 

These supplements help to digest both sugar and starch. And reduce symptoms like gas, bloating, and indigestion associated with sucrose and starch intolerance.

How to use Starchway? 

You take the Starchway supplement right before or with the first bite of a meal containing sucrose or starches. 

One capsule contains 7500 u of the enzyme Invertase and 2500 u of the enzyme glucoamylase. You can take 1 to 3 capsules per meal up to a maximum of 15 per day. 

On the website of Intoleran, you can read more about these digestive enzymes and the other digestive enzymes that they offer that can help with other digestive issues, such as FODMAP intolerances. 

I hope that this article has given you some useful information on starch and sucrose intolerance!

Supplements for sucrose and starch intolerance
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