Commonly referred to as Diabetes, Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a group of metabolic ailments where the blood sugar levels are high and extend over a longer period of time. While the symptoms include frequent urination, weight-gain, unusual weight loss, fatigue, increased hunger, and thirst, the long-term complications include cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and damage to the eyes. Caused either due to pancreas not producing enough insulin or cells of the body not responding to the insulin produced properly, Diabetes mellitus is of three types:
- Type 1 DM caused due to pancreas not producing enough insulin.
- Type 2 DM occurs with insulin resistance where cells do not respond to the insulin properly
- Gestational Diabetes which occurs in females who do not have any history of diabetes begin to experience high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
Is Honey Safe for Diabetics?
Although honey is a better substitute for sugar intake than granulated sugar, diabetic people should ideally refrain from consuming honey as in certain cases it can increase the blood sugar level, but comparatively less than sugar. Yet a better substitute, considering sugar intake, natural honey can be added in the diet of diabetic people in very small quantities depending upon the type of diabetes that they suffer from. A study conducted at the Dubai Specialized Medical Center and Medical Research Laboratories claimed that ‘natural honey lowers plasma glucose, homocysteine, C-reactive protein and blood lipids in healthy, diabetic, and hyperlipidemic (relates to the elevated levels of any or all lipids or lipoproteins in the blood) subjects.’
What is Natural Honey?
Unfiltered and unpasteurized honey where there is no processing or heating involved to decrease the contents of its natural vitamins and minerals or doesn’t include any added colours, artificial flavours, or synthetic substances, the honey is known to be Natural.
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Benefits of Natural Honey
1. Has low effect on blood sugar level
Containing a bare minimum amount of simple sugar but comparatively lesser than artificial or white sugar that is generally used as a sweetener, the combination of fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose (simple sugar that circulates in the bodies of animals as blood sugar) helps the body to regulate the blood sugar levels. There are many kinds of honey sweeteners available in the market, choose one which does not shoot up the blood sugar level.
2. Helps heal wounds and burns
Honey can also be applied externally to any kind of wounds and burns on your skin. Having anti-bacterial and soothing properties it can prove to be an effective home remedy that works best for any kind of skin conditions. A study named ‘Evidence for Clinical Use of Honey in Wound Healing as an Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory Anti-oxidant and Anti-viral Agent: A Review’ gives some evidences of honey to be a natural wound and burns healer.
3. Relieves Cold and Cough Symptoms
Honey is said to be a natural remedy for a cough and cold. According to a report, ‘World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies honey as a potential demulcent treatment for a cough.’ Having an antimicrobial effect on cough and cold, honey is said to reduce nocturnal coughing and provides relief to the respiratory system.
4. Strengthens the immune system
Consuming honey on a regular basis is said to produce immunity cells. While a study shows that it contains probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus Kunkeei which is often found during a winemaking fermenting process, it also informs us that when exposed to heat, the conditions for these bacteria become unfavourable and as a result they are killed, resulting in initiation of IgA response i.e. they could stimulate the cells’ immunity process.
5. Other Medicinal Uses
Honey can be mixed with other ingredients like ginger and turmeric to help relieve cough and cold, bad breath and vomiting. While other times it is also used as a solution for cracked, dry and skin full of acne.
How to consume Honey?
Natural Honey can be added to the diet of Diabetic people in very low quantities. Each person’s body reacts differently to honey intake and one should always consult their doctor before beginning to include honey in your diet if you’re a diabetic.
- Honey and Yoghurt: Mix both the ingredients (in small quantities) well and have this mixture the first thing in the morning. This mixture is suitable for people suffering from high blood sugar levels.
- Honey & Cinnamon: Add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon to one glass of boiling water. Stir, cover and keep aside for about an hour. Add 1 tsp of honey to it after it has cooled down. Drink this every morning on an empty stomach and notice the results after two weeks.
- Honey, Ginger & Lemon Tea: Boil a glass of water and add ginger and tea leaves to it. Heat it up for 5 – 10 mins on low flame. Remove it from heat and add lemon juice and honey to it.
- Honey with Green Tea: Prepare green tea as usual and add 1 tsp of honey into it in the end.
Dr. Asqual Getaneh is an assistant clinical professor of Medicine at Columbia University in New York who says that natural unprocessed honey can be consumed by those suffering from diabetes but caution should be practiced while adding it to your daily intake.
Other things that need to be taken care of include:
- Never skip your regular meals as it can cause causing a drastic dip or rise in your blood sugar counts. If possible eat after every 4 – 5 hours to maintain the perfect balance of blood sugar level.
- Allow yourself occasional treats but take care of the portion size and carbs loaded in it.
- Stay active. Regular exercise is important to control your body weight and thus your blood sugar level. Dedicate 30 minutes of your day to exercise and see the effects.
- Listen to your body. Your body gives you signals from time to time about certain things like hunger. Monitor your diet and understand when you need food and when are you likely to have it.
Always consult your doctor before consuming or adding honey to your daily diet plan.