Today, diabetes is a very common health condition around the world. This is the main reason why the question, “can diabetics eat honey?” is often asked on almost every diet related websites. In general, medical experts do strictly advise patients to maintain “low-sugar diet”.
The simplest explanation is to consume less sugar because it is the only possible way to make your blood sugar level remain at a good and stable condition. You have to know that majority of sweeteners available around can actually cause harm to a diabetic person.
So is honey one among these sweeteners?
The answer whether honey is good or bad for a diabetic person is somewhat complicated. There are so many factors that needs to be considered before a medical expert can tell if the patient is allowed to take honey or not. Although, majority of the doctors will say “no” just to make sure that their patients will stay safe on the safe side.
In order to understand the effects of honey to a diabetic patient, let’s make a comparison to the sugar. Both honey and sugar are commonly used as sweeteners but there is actually a difference between them. A pure natural honey is actually not 100% sugar.
So let’s say for example that you are regularly consuming 100 grams of honey. Out from this amount, you are just taking in about 82% of sugar in terms of weight. On the other hand, if you are regularly consuming an amount of 100 grams sugar that equates to 99.9% of sugar.
Aside from the sugar contents, we also have the so called “glycemic index”. This is a relative ranking of various foods particularly on how they affect the blood glucose levels. Foods that are classified with a value of 55 or less are quite slow to be digested, absorbed and metabolized. As a result, it causes lower and slower rise in blood glucose.
To make comparison with the glycemic index, pure honey have 58 while sugar have 60.
But above all, pure honey have way surpassed sugar due to its rich vitamins and mineral contents. You may even be surprised to know that honey contains almost 200 different substances that are highly beneficial for human health.
Sugar and Honey Comparison According to Researches
It is important for every individuals especially those who are suffering from diabetes that the honey and sugar affects the blood sugar levels a lot differently. This has been proven by recent studies and researches which are worth knowing about.
One of the interesting study was the one conducted by “Specialized Medical Center and Medical Research Laboratories” in Dubai. On their experiment, they observed that an amount of 75g of honey introduced into the human system can “increase the blood sugar and insulin levels” particularly in the first two hours. A pure glucose does the same but in a much significant manner.
Further observation by the researchers, they found out that the honey caused an “initial blood sugar a spike” within the 30 minute period. Worse, the measurement of the spike was greater than the glucose.
After the spike, a good result was finally discovered by the researchers. They noticed that the blood sugars of the patients who belonged to the honey group had dropped and remained at this level in the next two hour period.
So how did this happen?
The researchers explained that it was because of the “insulin”. They discovered that a pure raw honey can increase insulin more than that of the sugar. You have to know that one function of insulin is that it filters out sugar from the blood. Thus, it is the possible explanation why the test subjects under the honey group had their blood sugar levels dropped.
There was another interesting study relating to honey consumption for diabetic patients. It was done at the “Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Center, Medical Sciences/University of Tehran”. The research and study took 8 weeks which was a “randomized clinical trial”.
The results showed benefits to the diabetic patients particularly on the improvement of their “body weight” and “blood lipids”. Although, this does not ensure that anyone who is suffering from diabetes can safely consume honey. This is because of the “HbA1C levels”. As observed by the researchers, they noticed an increase which is not a good sign.
What type of Honey Can Diabetic Patient Eat?
There are only two general types of honey which is either “processed” or “unprocessed”. So which one is best for individuals with diabetes to consume?
The answer is “natural unprocessed or unfiltered” type of honey. But again, this does not mean that any diabetic patient are allowed to consume it. Medical assessment is best required for you to know if you can eat honey on your diet or not.
Through the help of a medical doctor, a diabetic will have his or her total caloric requirement observed. If consuming the natural substance does not cause enough increase on the blood sugar levels then, taking honey may be permitted.
In fact, some medical experts may even recommend adding pure and natural honey into their diabetic patients’ diet provided that they performed all the necessary checkup. This is because honey do actually have highly recognized “anti-inflammatory and antioxidant” effects that are quite beneficial for diabetics.
If it happens that you have diabetes and fortunately, your doctor have allowed you to take natural honey then it is important for you to be aware about the substance’s “fructose”. It is highly suggested that you have to maintain at least under 50gm of daily fructose intake. This is the standard amount that should maintain your blood sugar levels and lipid stable.
If you have no idea on how you can keep track of your 50mg fructose daily intake, you can use a tablespoon as a measuring tool. It’s because a one tablespoon of honey contains 8.1 grams of fructose. Other ingredients includes 64 calories and 17gm of carbohydrates.
When are Diabetics Allowed to take Honey?
The main basis that medical doctors use in monitoring their diabetic patient if they are allowed to take sweets is by observing their blood sugar and HbA1C levels. If these two levels are not under control, it means that the patient needs help from their doctors and nutritionists.
Through some effort of being health conscious, a diabetic patient can actually control his or her blood sugar and HbA1C levels. By the time that this is achieved, he or she can eat sweets again. However, experts suggest that it is best to stick with the pure and organic honey over any other artificial sweets around. The reason has already been stated above.
Anyway, are you familiar about “Ayurveda”?
This is an ancient form of natural medicine known to have existed for 5,000 years. In relation to honey, this natural bee substance is commonly used as a medium in carrying and distributing the medicines into the human system. While “cinnamon” is used for stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Why Diabetics Should Choose Manuka Honey?
If available and allowed, a diabetic patient should choose “manuka honey” due to its compound called “Methylglyoxal”. This term refers to the substance’s beneficial components which are “antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties”.
There were already many researches and studies conducted about how efficient is the manuka honey in treating diabetic wounds and ulcers. Their results were all quite interestingly “effective”. Although, other results still remains under study because they were only tested on lab rats.
If you have diabetes and your doctor allowed you to take manuka honey, it is important for you to know that unlike other honey around, the manuka honey is a medicinal substance. Due to this reason, it is highly advisable not to mix it with other type of foods or beverages with high temperature. It’s because this can destroy all precious nutrients of the honey.
Anyway, you can still add manuka honey on cold beverages and deserts.
So far, there is no solid conclusion yet among the medical experts if taking honey would be safe and beneficial for diabetic individuals. In short, it is an on-going debate. This is the reason why researches and studies are still continuously being conducted by various medical facilities around the world.
But for now, if you have diabetes and you seem to love eating honey as a part of your regular diet then make sure that your doctor will allow it. In most cases, if you are overweight and you have poorly managed diabetes then surely, your doctor won’t allow you to consume honey.
Moreover, if you want to stay on the safe side rather than testing honey if your system will reap the benefits, then it is always a good choice to give it a pass.