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Honey & Insulin Spike

author image Maura Shenker
Maura Shenker is a certified holistic nutritionist and health counselor who started her writing career in 2010. She leads group workshops, counsels individual clients and blogs about diet and lifestyle choices. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, a Master of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University and is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Honey & Insulin Spike
a jar of honey next to honeycomb. Photo Credit: AndreeaIonascu/iStock/Getty Images

Eating any type of simple carbohydrate, including sugars such as cane syrup and honey, will cause a spike in glucose and insulin. The more sugars you eat, the faster and higher your blood sugar and insulin will go. There is no advantage to substituting honey for sugar in a diabetes eating plan since both honey and sugar affect your blood sugar and insulin levels.

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There are many kinds of sugar; they may taste and look differently, but they affect your body the same way. It doesn't matter if it's a "natural" sugar such as fructose, lactose or galactose, or a manufactured sugar like high fructose corn syrup and ethyl maltol. Sugars are simple carbohydrates, which usually provide calories without nutrients and are quickly digested and converted into glucose. Other names for sugar include organic cane juice or cane crystals, barley malt, beet sugar, date sugar and grape sugar, honey, molasses, brown rice syrup, maple syrup and corn syrup. Ingredients ending in "-ose" are often sugars -- dextrose, maltose, sucrose.

Honey, Glucose and Insulin

When you eat honey, your body can quickly convert it to glucose. Quick production of glucose results in a spike in blood sugar. Your pancreas responds to this spike by flooding your bloodstream with insulin to move glucose into your cells for use as energy. The faster your pancreas releases insulin, the more likely it is to release too much insulin, which could lead to excess insulin and hypoglycemia. Of course, glucose not used right away as energy is stored as fat for later energy use. That's why eating too much of any type of sugar can lead to weight gain.

Preventing an Insulin Spike

You can prevent an insulin spike by regulating glucose production. Insulin is released only in response to rising glucose levels. If glucose levels are stable, insulin levels will be too. Use sugars such as honey very sparingly, and try to eat them with foods that slow digestion, such as fiber, fat and protein. Slowing the digestive process will slow the conversion of honey into glucose.

Honey and Diabetes

Per teaspoon, honey has more carbohydrates and more calories than white sugar. If you have diabetes, you want to choose carbohydrates that have a minimal impact on blood sugar. Diabetics should limit honey as they do as other simple carbohydrate. If you are eating a low-glycemic diet, one tablespoon of honey scores a 55 on the GI, the same score as an entire Snickers Bar or a full cup of brown rice.

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