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Honey And Diabetes

Despite some promising research for using honey by diabetics
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Table of Contents

How This Helps

Honey has
been used since early times as both a sweetener and medication. It’s a viscous
liquid made by honeybees and ranges in color from straw yellow to dark brown.
The bees gather nectar from flowers and combine it with enzymes to form honey
prior to keeping it in honeycomb cells to keep it fresh. Diabetics get
a great deal of information about what you should and shouldn’t eat. Perhaps
you’ve been told to have honey rather than sugar. What does the science and
research say?

How is honey different from sugar?

Honey
contains less sugar and fructose when compared to sugar, but contains more
calories. The proportions of glucose and fructose in honey and sugar are somewhat different. Whereas sugar is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose, honey includes 40 percent fructose and 30 percent glucose – the remainder includes water, pollen, minerals, such as magnesium and potassium. These additional components could very well be keys to the health benefits of honey.

Honey and sugar are both carbohydrates, comprising both types of
sugar: sugar and fructose. Refined fructose, which can be found in sweeteners,
is metabolized by the liver and has been associated with obesity, fatty liver
disease, & diabetes. Both fructose
and glucose are broken down quickly by the body and can cause spikes in glucose
levels.

Most commercial honeys have a moderate Glycemic Index or GI of 45 to 64 which is lower than sugar at 65. The GI depends on the amount of fructose – the greater the fructose, the lower the GI. Table sugar, or granulated sugar, is what most people think of sugar. Chemically, table sugar is sucrose, a disaccharide that is a 50-50 mixture of the monosaccharides glucose and fructose. It has a GI of 65. (Other variations of sugars have GI from 19 in Fructose to 105 in Maltose).

Sugar being higher on the glycemic index (GI) than honey means it increases blood glucose levels more quickly. This implies that honey may cause a shorter spike in blood glucose levels when compared with sugar.

 

Does honey raise blood glucose levels?

What do the research studies say?

Some studies
have found that eating honey may boost insulin levels and reduce levels of
blood glucose. Yet, there is not enough data yet to support extensive use of
honey. 

A research on
people with type 2 diabetes found that when compared to sugar, honey doesn’t
raise glucose levels just as much but does result in a greater increase in
insulin levels. This indicates that honey can trigger the secretion of insulin
which helps in keeping the blood sugar levels in check.

See: Functional medicine for Type 2 diabetes

A review of
research in which honey has been given in conjunction with anti-diabetic
medicines indicates that honey aids in better control of blood glucose and
reduces harmful effects on the body’s cells. This sort of damage, known as
oxidative stress, is thought of as the most probable cause of type 2 diabetes
and its complications, according to current research.

It follows
that any foods such as honey, which have an antioxidant effect, may be helpful
for individuals with diabetes. This is a significant area where honey scores
over table sugar in the diet for individuals with diabetes.

 However, most
experiments with honey with individuals with type 2 diabetes are flawed, which
makes their results unreliable.

1. In one such
experiment of 48 diabetics, honey has been given for 2 weeks to a group but not
to another. The results demonstrated that while the body fat and total
cholesterol dropped in the honey group, there was a substantial increase in
their HbA1c levels. The authors of the
study, therefore, recommended that honey should be used with caution.

 See: Ayurveda for Diabetes Type 2

If you’re a
type 2 diabetic with blood glucose levels in the normal selection, honey might
be a healthy substitute for sugar in your diet. Although honey is significantly
sweeter than table sugar, it does have a low glycemic index; hence a carefully
monitored ingestion of honey will probably be more beneficial than glucose
ingestion. But if your blood glucose is over the standard selection, tends to
fluctuate, or if you have diabetic complications, honey may do more harm than
good. If that’s the event, it would be best to refrain from taking honey
altogether.

 See: Sweet Potato & Diabetes

 

2. A study from 2004 researched honey and sugar’s effects on blood sugar levels. The
researcher found a solution containing 75 g of honey raised blood glucose and
insulin levels in people with and without type 2 diabetes within thirty
minutes. An equivalent solution containing dextrose increased blood glucose
levels slightly higher. Within 2
hours, the levels dropped, and they dropped lower and remained lower in the
honey group, compared with the dextrose group.

The
researcher suggested that honey may boost insulin levels. This would explain
why, though blood glucose levels rose in both groups, they dropped further in
the honey group.

 See: Is green tea good for you?

3. A review
printed in 2017 also researched the connection between honey and blood sugar in
people with diabetes. The authors discovered that honey
decreased fasting serum glucose reading taken after a person has
fasted for at least 8 hours. It increased
levels of fasting C-peptide, which enables the pancreas to know how much insulin
to secrete and plays an essential role in maintaining blood sugar levels stable
in a healthy variety. It climbed
2-hour postprandial C-peptide levels, which indicate the quantity of peptide
after someone eats.

4. An 8-week
research between 48 people in Iran discovered that consuming honey did not seem
to raise fasting glucose levels. Participants who ate honey also lost weight
and had lower blood glucose levels. The
researchers also analyzed the participants’ hemoglobin. The researchers noted that participants at the
honey group had An increase in hemoglobin A1c, suggesting a long-term increase
in blood sugar levels. Because of this, the group recommended caution for
diabetics to have honey in their diet.

 

5. Other studies
have indicated that honey may have added benefits because it comprises
antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. A review
printed in 2017 looked in the potential functions of honey in recovery. The
authors noted that, in people with type 2 diabetes, physicians may one day use
honey to reduce glucose levels, decrease the risk of complications associated
with metabolic and cardiovascular disease, and help heal wounds.

Another
research in 2014 noted that honey may help to fight the inflammatory processes
that occur with diabetes, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease, all of
which are features of metabolic syndrome.

Is honey good for diabetics?

According to Mayo Clinic, there is no real benefit to substituting honey for sugar in a
diabetes eating strategy. Both sugar and honey will affect your blood glucose
level. Honey is sweeter than granulated sugar, so you may use a smaller
quantity of honey for sugar in some recipes. But honey really has slightly more
carbs and calories per teaspoon than does granulated sugar so any calories and
carbs you save will be minimal. 
If
you prefer the flavor of honey, go on and use it but only in moderation. Be sure
to count the carbohydrates in honey as part of your diabetes eating plan.

The National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Recommend that
carbohydrates constitute 45-65 percent of a person’s recommended daily caloric
intake. Diabetics must work with their health care team to figure out the ideal
amount for them. Once a person
knows just how many carbs they should be eating each day, they could adjust
food choices and portion sizes so.

It’s also
important to note that the type, along with the amount, of carbohydrates
influences blood glucose levels. Healthcare professionals will help determine
each person’s carbohydrate requirements.

Fiber intake
is crucial in handling post-meal blood glucose spikes. Each meal should contain
loads of fiber. Most of an individual’s carbohydrate intake should include
healthful, unprocessed, high-fiber carbohydrates. All these are in whole
grains, such as barley, as well as in whole meal bread, legumes, peas, whole
oats, and whole fruits and vegetables.

 

 

Summary

Honey may
have many health benefits, be it folklore, or based on advanced scientific research. Despite the fact that there’s promising research
using honey vs sugar, results are conflicting. It is safer to reduce additional honey and sugar in your diet, eat low sugar fruits and go low-carb. Stick with diets that
include whole, unprocessed, high-fiber carbohydrates in fruits & veggies.