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In the last 30-40 years, the number of people with diabetes has more than quadrupled worldwide.
Diabetes is caused either by a lack of insulin produced by the pancreas (type 1), or by its inability to process insulin correctly (type 2). As insulin is a hormone which regulates our blood sugar, these conditions can lead to hyperglycemia (raised blood sugar), and can cause serious damage.
A chronic disease, diabetes requires ongoing medical attention and can limit someone’s ability to live a normal, active lifestyle.
It has been suggested that some cases of diabetes can be partly managed by consuming foods that generate a low blood sugar response - potentially like honey.
In this article, we will explore the studies that have been conducted on it thus far, and shed some light on why a diabetic person might or might not include Manuka Honey in their diet. We’ll cover:
- Treating diabetes with sugar and where honey fits in.
- Manuka Honey and diabetes: the scientific story.
- Manuka Honey options for diabetic people.
Diabetes and Sugar
Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent, and for some people, it can be managed through diet and exercise. For others or those with type 1 diabetes, lifestyle habits are just the first step - but a crucial one.
Diet is a key factor in the management of diabetes:
“A healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your diet will help keep your blood glucose on target. How much of each will depend on many factors, including your weight and your personal preferences. Watching your carbohydrates -- knowing how much you need and how many you are eating -- is key to blood sugar control.” - Web MD.
Sugar is an energy source for our bodies, so it plays an important role in our health. As a result, alternatives for those who cannot process it properly have been explored:
“Honey may be a healthful substitute for refined sugars, such as white sugar, turbinado, cane sugar, and powdered sugar… Unlike refined white sugar, honey also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.” - Medical News Today.
With the potential for honey to replace sugar as a safer alternative for diabetics, scientists have put it to the test:
“Considerable evidence from experimental studies shows that the honey may provide benefits in the management of diabetes mellitus. The benefits could be a better control of the hyperglycemic state, limiting other metabolic disorders and diminishing the deleterious effects on different organs that may produce diabetic complications…
It is true that honey may be used as a potential antidiabetic agent that has the potential to reduce the complications of diabetes...” - Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity study, 2018.
It is noted in these studies that honey is still a sugar, which should be carefully monitored by anyone with diabetes (and their doctor.) Where honey differs is that it offers more than just a sweetening effect:
“A tablespoon of honey, weighing about 21 g, has about 64 calories, while 21 g of granulated white sugar contains 80 calories. This amount of honey also contains:
It also contains some B vitamins. Sugar contains almost no other nutrients.” - Medical News Today.
Honey may even play a role in future treatment of the pancreas directly:
“Because of its possible stimulatory effect on diseased beta cells [those responsible for producing insulin], honey might be considered in future therapeutic trials targeting beta cells of pancreas.” - 2012 study of participants with type 1 diabetes.
This same study found that the honey not only had a lower glycemic effect on all participants, but it also helped to raise their C-peptide levels which indicates insulin production.
Manuka Honey and Diabetes-related uses
What about any benefits of Manuka Honey for diabetes, specifically?
One of the ways that Manuka Honey stands out from regular honey is its superior antibacterial properties. Is there any evidence to suggest that this can be helpful to diabetic people as well?
“Studies revealed that the medicinal effect of honey may be due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, apoptotic, and antioxidant properties... Sufficient evidence exists recommending the use of honey in the management of disease conditions.” - 2017 review of clinical research.
Greek researchers noted similar findings in their 2014 study, saying that due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, more potent honeys may help reduce the severity of inflammation that occurs as a result of various illnesses, including diabetes.
One common complication that diabetic patients experience is the development of foot ulcers. Whilst studies are still ongoing, and each case needs to be treated individually, there is evidence that Manuka Honey may aid in healing some types of foot ulcers topically:
“MHID [manuka honey-impregnated dressings] represent an effective treatment for NDFU [neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers] leading to a significant reduction in the time of healing and rapid disinfection of ulcers.” - 2014 study.
Manuka Honey Options for Diabetes
For those with diabetes seeking Manuka Honey options it may be an option to explore mid-range grades. These would offer good levels of antibacterial activity with moderate MG content.
All New Zealand Honey Co. honeys are independently tested. Check out the full range here.
From sweet treats to healthy snacks and breakfast foods, check out below for Manuka Honey recipe ideas.
- Manuka Honey Brulee
- Eat the Rainbow for Natural Wellness
- Top 4 Superfoods and a decadent healthy dessert
- Salted Caramel Bliss Balls Manuka Honey