Is Manuka Honey Safe For Diabetics?

There have been some reports of people using manuka honey as a sugar substitute as a way to manage diabetes.

In this article, we’ll explore the merits of this and how manuka can fit into a diabetic lifestyle.

There are two types of diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes is caused by the pancreas unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin (insulin is the regulator of blood sugar in the body).

Adding Manuka Honey into the Diabetic Diet

Type 2 Diabetes is caused the body’s inability to process insulin correctly.

Type 1 Diabetes is an inherent disease, while Type 2 Diabetes is usually brought on by lifestyle.

This means people with Type 2 Diabetes can generally improve their condition through positive lifestyle changes, with diet being one of the most effective, especially when it comes to carbohydrate intake.

A key to many diabetes management plans is learning how to count carbohydrates. Carbohydrates often have the biggest impact on your blood sugar levels. For people taking mealtime insulin, it’s important to know the amount of carbohydrates in your food, so you get the proper insulin dose.Mayo Clinic

This important to know because honey itself is a carbohydrate. The question many diabetics have is, if they have issues processing sugar, is honey a viable substitute?

One of the most promising insights into this question was in this 2018 study, which stated:

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. 

One of the reasons that honey has this potential is because of all the extra properties it has other than just a carbohydrate. Whereas refined sugar is practically deplete of any vitamins, minerals or medicinal properties, honey is packed with them! Manuk honey particularly is a known anti-inflammatory, antibiotics and antifungal agent, along with its excellent nutritional profile.

This makes honey a interesting option as a substitute to sugar in diets with people with diabetes.

It is important to note that honey, and even Manuka honey, is still a carbohydrate and a sugar, meaning consumption must be monitored for its effect on blood sugar levels, just as a diabetic would with any other carbohydrate.

Ways that Manuka Honey can benefit diabetics

There are a couple of ways Manuka Honey can benefit diabetics in more indirect ways.

One is in the treatment of ulcers.

We have written on this site previously about how Manuka Honey is a fantastic agent for faster and safer wound healing, and ulcers in the lower body can be common in those with diabetes.

This 2014 study showed the Manuka Honey was an effective treatment for NDFU leading to a significant reduction in the time of healing and rapid disinfection of ulcers.

Another way Manuka Honey can be beneficial is in a more holistic way. Manuka honey is a known anti inflammatory and this can be beneficial for people with all forms of disease, including diabetes. This 2021 study showed honey consumption can be an effective moderator of inflammation in chronic diseases.

Thus, targeted tissues benefit from the honey’s pharmacological and preventive actions which modulate the inflammatory cytokines functions and ultimately reduce the severity of chronic inflammatory diseases.

There is also evidence to show honey has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. This means that it is processed slower by the body and has a lower chance of raising blood sugar outside the target range for diabetics.

is manuka honey safe for diabetics?

While there is no evidence to show Manuka Honey can directly influence diabetes, there is evidence to show Manuka Honey can be used safely as a sugar substitute, providing more nutritional and therapeutic benefits than simple refined sugars, without any extra spike in blood sugar.

It also shows the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of Manuka Honey can be beneficial to diabetics in other ways, such as treatment of foot ulcers and reducing inflammation in the body.

While consuming any kind of honey as a diabetic must be monitored closely (as you would with any other carbohydrate), Manuka Honey can be a safe and healthy addition to your diet.

Wishing you the best!

Who are we?

I'm Erin, and my husband and I have been raising bees in Northern New Zealand for over 30 years. We no longer raise bees on Manuka flowers, but it remains one of our favorites, and we eat it daily, among other honeys like Kamahi and Rata. Since Manuka has grown in popularity overseas in recent years, we thought we should educate people on the true benefits of Manuka and how to find quality Manuka honey. Above is our guide, written by us and designed by our brilliant computer whiz of a son, Byron. We hope you find it helpful! Learn more about us here.