Those with diabetes may feel like they are doomed to never again taste chocolate, or spoil themselves with a sweet dessert after a meal. The good news is, with a controlled diet, diabetics can still enjoy sweet things… as long as they are careful.
Why does sugar affect diabetics?
First of all, let's dispel the common myth that eating a lot of sugar can give you diabetes. This is well ‘known’ by most people. In fact, eating sugar has nothing to do with developing Type 1 diabetes. Genetics and other factors trigger the onset of the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is slightly more complicated, with being overweight the biggest contributing factor. Of course a high intake of sugar adds to obesity, which can lead to diabetes, but the sugar itself is not directly responsible.
Diabetes occurs when glucose levels in the blood are too high. This is a problem because most of the food we eat is turned into glucose for our body to burn as energy. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin to help this transition from glucose to energy. In diabetics, the body either doesn’t produce insulin at all (Type 1), or can’t regulate the amount it produces (Type 2).
Difference between honey and sugar
When it comes to carbohydrates, there’s really not much difference between honey and sugar.
However, this doesn’t tell the full story.
Sugar is basically 100% sucrose, and has no nutritional value whatsoever.
Honey on the other hand, contains many different vitamins and minerals, including zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. Because of this, honey is sweeter than sugar, and so less is needed when cooking.
Sugar is made up of fructose and glucose, two molecules which are bonded together to form sucrose.
Our body needs to break this sucrose down before turning it into energy, but when it comes to honey, this sucrose is already broken down into its basic forms. Without this extra step in the process, our body can absorb these simple sugars directly.
This gives honey a lower glycaemic index rating, meaning that sugars are absorbed into the blood stream at a more gradual and healthier pace.
Research into honey
There have been many tests to establish the difference between honey and sugar in relation to diabetes. One study found that honey spikes blood sugar levels the same as table sugar, but drops a lot faster, returning to normal levels within a couple of hours.
Several studies have also looked into the addition of honey into a diet, rather than simply replacing sugar. One 3 month study found that adding honey actually improved short-term blood sugar levels, as well as body fat mass.
So can diabetics eat honey?
Nutritional advice should always be taken with a pinch of salt. What works for one person may not work for another. Overall, the research would suggest that honey is much better for diabetics than sugar.
Honey is healthier because it requires lower levels of insulin compared to sugar.
Both will spike your blood sugar, but honey is the lesser of two evils, because not only is less insulin needed, but the levels will return to normal faster. Put simply, your body can deal with it easier. And because honey is also naturally sweeter than sugar, you don’t need as much of it.
If you are overweight and have poorly managed diabetes, then you should avoid both sugar and honey. Glucose is not your friend, no matter what form it takes. A good diet and regular exercise is essential for everyone, especially if you are diabetic.
If you would like to replace sugar in your diet with honey, then Bee Plus Manuka Honey is the perfect choice.