Despite intense medical research, Diabetes mellitus has yet to find a permanent cure.
The diet of diabetics is strictly controlled, especially with regard to sugar and mineral compounds intake.
The unmet goals of many diabetics that are linked to the use of anti-diabetic drugs has caused many people with the condition to turn to complementary medicine or alternative medicine (CAM) including herbs and natural products such as honey.
The issue of honey and diabetes is hotly debated, since honey contains high amounts of sugars that a diabetic is supposed to avoid.
So, should a diabetic consume honey or include it in their diet?
The good news, however, is that several notable studies have proven that honey is not only permissible in the diets of diabetics, but actually has several important benefits, key among them the ability to lower hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels).
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is primarily a metabolic disorder. There are 2 types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In type 1, the body does not produce insulin at all.
In type 2 diabetes, the body either fails to produce adequate amounts of insulin, or the cells of the body resist the insulin thus rendering it ineffective. Most people suffer from type 2 diabetes, many of whom are adults above 40 years of age.
The common symptoms of diabetes are obesity, poor blood circulation in the lower extremities and eye diseases. Type 1 diabetes is treated by administering insulin injections to the patient to help maintain normal blood glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is treated by giving the patient glucose-lowering drugs.
Proven Health Benefits of Honey in a Diabetic’s Diet
A study done in 2013 by the University of Malaysia and recorded in the Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders to establish the effects of honey, if any, on a diabetic has confounded medical experts. The study was done using diabetic lab rats and local tualang and ilam honey varieties, both of which yielded similar results, suggesting that the effects were not limited to just one honey variety but rather honey in general.
Honey was shown to be effective ameliorating oxidative stress, scavenging reactive oxygen species and reducing hyperglycemia. Honey supplementation in diabetic rats was proven to ameliorate renal oxidative stress depending on the dosage administered. This is quite startling given that honey is rich in sugars, which tend to worsen hyperglycemia. Medical experts have hypothesized that the hypoglycemic effects of honey could be linked to the fructose and oligosaccharides present in the substance.
The positive effects of honey in lowering oxidative stress have been shown to be due to the reduction in triglycerides, hepatic transaminases and glycosylated hemoglobin accompanied by an increase in HDL cholesterol.
The study also reported the beneficial effects of combining honey with anti-diabetic drugs in diabetics. Honey administration was found to reduce serum concentration of both glucose and fructosamine, while increasing the serum levels of insulin in diabetic rats.
The combination of hyperglycemic drugs such as metformin and glibenclamide with honey was shown to be much more effective at reducing hyperglycemia in diabetic rats than when the drugs were used alone. The use of these drugs without honey was also shown to have no effects in the reduction of fructosamine levels in the body.
The study concluded that the results, though not conclusive, seemed to suggest that honey could be used as an adjunct to other types of diabetes therapies to achieve better glycemic control, mitigate oxidative stress and improve metabolic derangements that are all linked to diabetes.
Honey and Diabetes
The early results from the study are very encouraging because they are quite contrary to what many medical experts have all along assumed.
Most doctors tend to discourage intake of honey for diabetics supposing that the high fructose content of honey would worsen hyperglycemia in diabetics, yet the study proves just the opposite.
Honey actually helps to control hyperglycemia in diabetics, along with other key benefits such as lowering fructosamine levels in the body, something that commonly used hyperglycemic drugs are unable to do by themselves.
In separate studies, honey has also been found to improve the blood lipid profile and reduce weight in diabetics, not to mention its well-known anti-inflammatory effects. There are no known studies that have linked honey to any negative effects in diabetics.
Here are some useful tips for using honey when you are a diabetic:
1. Limit Your Honey Intake:
Since the studies are not 100% conclusive, diabetics are encouraged to limit their intake of honey just like they do with other sugars. Honey is a carb food and 1 tablespoon of honey has the same energy content as 17 grams of carbohydrates.
Fructose is the main sweetener in honey. Consuming more than 50 grams of fructose has been shown to increase blood sugar levels. 1 tablespoon of honey weighs approximately 21.25 grams. It would therefore be advisable to limit your daily intake of honey to no more than 2 tablespoons.
2. Avoid Taking Artificial Sweeteners:
One big positive effect of honey when compared to common sweeteners such as table sugar, saccharin, splenda and aspartame is that honey has a lower Glycemic Index, or GI than these sugars.
A lower GI means that it does not raise the blood sugar level as quickly as these sugars. In fact, Dr. Ron Fessenden in his book ‘The Honey Revolution’ says that the more glucose intolerant a person is, the less aggressively their bodies respond to sugar intake when they first consume honey, which is quite the opposite of the effects observed with sugars such as sucrose and glucose which worsen the body’s response to sugar intake. Avoid taking artificial sweeteners.
3. Substitute Table Sugar with Honey:
Instead of using artificial sweeteners or table sugar in your cakes and confectionaries, use honey instead.
Honey has a distinctive taste that tends to go down well with most people’s palates.
And, once you start replacing sugar intake with limited honey portions, you’ll see that it takes less honey to get as much sweetness as you would with a normal serving of sugar.
How to Actually REVERSE Your Diabetes
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