The magnitude of prevalence and burden of diabetes is well known and needs no special introduction. Whether a developed or developing Nations, all countries seem to have been affected with this nutritional disorder. The country of Kenya, which witnessed overall improvements of health outcomes since the year 2006, also exhibited rise in incidence of diabetic cases. As it is a chronic degenerative disease, early detection and management, rather than treatment itself, gains more importance and dietary management is perhaps the best approach for regulating blood sugar levels.
Honey is a good alternative to sugar and is in fact three times as much sweeter than sugar. It is a complex mixture of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The carbohydrates are composed of fructose and glucose, wherein the fructose helps in uptake of glucose by liver, thus reducing its content in blood. The rate of fructose absorption into the blood stream is also slower than glucose and is independent of insulin. Vitamins and minerals present in honey aid in glucose metabolism including insulin secretion.
Recently, Chege and his group of researchers from Kenya studied the association between the intake of honey and diabetic factors based on consecutive blood sugar reading. The fact that two times the participants in the study with diabetes consumed honey than normal subjects indicates that there is craving for consuming sweet foods by diabetic people. So even while taking regular anti-diabetic medication, diabetic people can very well opt for natural Honey as it is beneficial for health and at the same time it is not highly glycemic (GI of Honey is between 45 and 64 vs. GI of sugar, either brown or white is approximately 65).
Earlier studies furnished mixed results with respect to honey consumption. A previous report says that long term consumption of honey improves blood lipid levels and body weight but not the glucose level. Another report says while it improves lipid level, it also decreased blood glucose level. Probably the regulation of blood glucose level by honey consumption has something to do with the rate of increase and rate of decrease in blood glucose level rather than the static blood sugar level at given point of time and such glucose regulation rate was found much desirable with honey as source compared to normal sugar sources.
It is important to consume honey in moderation as it is mostly constituted by digestible carbohydrates which after all, always tend to raise blood glucose level. Nevertheless, the common observations based on previous studies reveal that honey improves lipid profile, controls body weight, reduces weight circumference (clinically proved) and prevents complications arising out of diabetes, decreases the rate of blood sugar level rise after consumption and increases the rate of metabolic fall down of blood sugar level.
Therefore, it may be concluded that for prevention of diabetes incidence and initial management of diabetic condition prior to complications, natural honey is highly beneficial and preferable and can be used in moderation as source of sweet food substitute for pure sugar.