Honey is not a new word to anybody. I doubt if there is anybody who has never eaten honey. For decades, has been recognized for its medicinal properties and ability to act as a natural sweeter. It is no rare thing hearing people referring to honey as Nature’s Sweetener.
Basically, if you get to the bottom of it, hone is typically just sugar. And, as diabetics, the last thing that anyone would want is having an increase in their blood sugar levels as a result of something they ate.
This brings us to our big question: is it safe to eat honey when diabetic?
Comparison between honey and sugar
Unlike sugar, honey is made by the bees in the beehives with nectar from flowers the essential ingredient. Basically, the bees consume, digest and regurgitate the nectar to form honey. How nutritious honey will depend on the type of nectar that the bees collect.
In a comparison, scale honey contains 82% sugar weight whereas sugar contains 99.9%. The basic explanation to this being the fact that other than sugar, honey has water, vitamins and some minerals, the same isn’t true when it comes to sugar.
When honey and sugar are compared the winner is quite evident. Honey has over 200 different substances that are needed by the body including antioxidants that are said to protect the body against diseases.
On a glycemic index, different kinds of honey have a different reading on the scale making it hard to give a specific rating.
Honey consumption may affect blood glucose and insulin
As much as many people may argue otherwise, studies have found honey to have a positive effect on the amount of insulin produced by the body and reducing blood sugar levels.
In a study done in the United Arab Emirates, it was found that 75g of honey had a significant rise in the blood sugar levels and insulin in the body after 30 minutes. When the same procedure was repeated with glucose there figures were slightly higher.
Since the group that took honey experienced a significant drop in the blood sugar levels after 2 hours. The conclusion of this study was, in comparison to sugar, honey has a substantially low effect on the blood sugar levels. Most importantly, honey helps the body produce more insulin and this explains why the after some time there was a significant drop in the blood sugar levels.
In another study from King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, it was found that taking honey when diabetic reduces the fasting serum glucose in the body and increases fasting C-peptide.
Further analysis on honey and diabetes
Quite a handful of studies have recommended adding honey to meals other than having it as a sugar replacement. On a study focusing on type 1 diabetic people for 12 weeks; it was found that adding honey to the diet improves the short-term blood glucose levels and the total fat mass. It is so unfortunate that the study never measured the long-term blood sugar levels, meaning there is no evidence showing whether it reduced or not.
A similar study was conducted on people with type 2 diabetes for 8 weeks. In the short term, there was a reduction in the lipids and body weight. However, in the long run, with the continuous adding of honey to the diet there was a rise in the blood sugar levels. To some extent, this is understandable since honey is just sugar after all.
When honey is supplemented with anti-diabetic drugs, honey has not been found to have severe side effects. In fact, most studies have shown honey to have more positive effects than the negatives when consumed by the diabetic. As much as we would like to say that we should eat honey, and it is safe for the diabetic, on a larger picture we should also invest more in research on this.
Additional possible health benefits of honey
Diabetes is considered as a condition that affects the body metabolism. It is for this reason that taking anything that can improve these metabolic processes with have a positive effect t in influencing how you regulate your blood sugar levels.
Benefits of honey
- Antioxidants– studies have indicated that dark honey has antioxidants which help keep the body safe by reducing the risk of contracting lifestyle diseases.
- Improve cholesterol levels in the body– most nutritionist will recommend honey as a measure to reduce bad cholesterol in the body and low the inflammatory markers of chronic diseases.
- Healing-honey possesses the medicinal properties of healing repair damages skin when applied on the affected area
Is it safe to eat honey when diabetic?
Well, if your blood sugar levels are poorly managed and you have packed in extra fat, then you should consider trying out honey. Though there is significant evidence linking diabetes to improvement in diabetes management, it is advisable to stick to a low-carb diet.
On the other hand, if you are of standard weight and have your blood sugar levels managed, then you can actually replace sugar with honey. Too much honey isn’t good for the diabetics in the simple sense that honey is sugar.
Finally, if you are active, healthy and would like to shed some weight, then you should consider taking honey due to its added nutrition values. In comparison to sugar, you are better off taking honey though having none is the best.