Being paranoid about what to eat and what not is common among to-be mothers. Pregnant mothers remain aware of every food they take and are concerned if it harms them and the baby.
What about the sweet, sticky stuff you’ve always loved and eaten? Can pregnant women eat honey?
Well, honey has been considered a natural sweetener even before time sugar existed and became popular. Loved by humans and even animals like beads and badgers, honeybee hives have been raided despite the risking stings to obtain the reward we call honey.
Honey, as a natural ingredient, is remarkable stuff. With the blend of several nutrients, including sugar, vitamins, amino acids, trace enzymes, and minerals, honey is a superfood.
Rich in fructose, there are more than 300 kinds of honey, each with a different but unique color and taste. But, is honey good to eat during pregnancy, or does honey affect to-be-born babies in any way? Let’s get the details.
Is honey safe to eat during pregnancy?
Women often ask many doctors if honey is good to eat during pregnancy. There is absolutely nothing in the medical research literature that says anything bad about honey. Eating honey does no harm to pregnant women.
However, you need to be concerned that honey contains botulinum toxin. A research journal published in the Canadian Family Physician reports that the adult gastrointestinal system has bacteria that protect against botulism. There’s no way the toxin can penetrate the placenta and affect the body.
These bacteria spores do not reach the fetus, and there’s no way they’ll enter the bloodstream and affect your unborn child.
Even pregnant women who succumb to gestational diabetes, a condition that occurs because of the rise in blood sugar levels during pregnancy, can eat honey, maintaining their calorie intake.
It’s perfectly safe.
Health benefits of honey
Sweet, tasty, and safe to eat, honey has several health benefits. Rich in fructose and glucose together with several other nutrients, some of the health and nutritional benefits of honey are:
It boosts the immune system. It can be used to heal wounds, minor burns, and cuts. It also neutralizes acids in the stomach to help pregnant women get rid of heartburn. The antioxidant and antibacterial properties that are present because of several enzymes and amino acids in honey is what helps to boost the immune system.
It provides relief from insomnia. Eating a tablespoon of honey before bed helps pregnant women to sleep well. It has also been linked with cures for sleeplessness and insomnia.
It prevents colds and coughs. As honey boosts the immune system, pregnant women develop more power to avoid colds and coughs.
It soothes the sore throat. Honey, when used in tea with ginger, can help soothe the throat and kill bacteria causing infection in the neck.
It cures cancer. Several medical researchers have found that eating honey regularly reduces the growth of H. Pyroli, a bacterium that is linked to causing ulcers.
It improves scalp. Most pregnant women suffer from dandruff and itching during pregnancy more than ever. When diluted in warm water, honey has been found to improve seborrheic dermatitis, a scalp condition that deteriorates hair conditions.
It reduces linea nigra mark. Pregnant women who used honey on their belly skin reported they got rid of linea nigra quickly. The dark black line gradually faded as their skin became brighter and looked young.
It reduces allergies. The pollen spores picked up by honey during honey production introduce you to allergen when you eat it. This activates your immune system and develops the power to become resistant to allergies.
Side effects of honey
Though honey has been used for medicinal reasons and is considered safe for adults and pregnant women, there are some side effects of consuming honey at large. With 53 percent of fructose present, each tablespoon has about four grams of fructose.
Here are a few side effects associated with eating honey in excess:
It can exacerbate insulin sensitivity. Excess consumption of honey increases the blood sugar level and exacerbates the pre-existing insulin resistance. Pregnant women are advised to take less than 25 grams of fructose daily.
It can cause cramping. Consuming too much honey also leads to stomach cramping and several other problems like diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.
It affects the gastrointestinal tract. With the increased blood sugar level, eating honey in excess makes your body slightly acidic. This affects the gastrointestinal tract and hampers digestion.
It decreases teeth health. Eating honey in access has also been reported to cause dental cavities. It is sugary, and high consumption can affect the health of teeth, causing tooth enamel to erode.
It causes weight gain. As honey is rich in calories, consuming too much can also increase weight.
Despite the health benefits of honey being considered to outrank its side effects, it can worsen health conditions at different times when used with other edibles.
Adding honey to hot water or beverages destroys the enzymes and reduces the quality it holds in its raw form. Similarly, when put together with foods rich in vitamins C and D, the minerals present in honey don’t show as much effect as they should while also negating the power of vitamins. Also, when used with bean curd, it can cause indigestion problems.
Can infants or babies eat honey?
Honey is considered safe for pregnant women if taken in moderation. It does not affect the fetus in any way and does not affect the unborn baby.
However, the problem associated with eating honey in infants and babies under the age of 1 or 2 is botulism. Eating raw or unpasteurized honey can cause spores of bacteria, and the digestive tract in infants is not developed enough to get rid of spores.
The intestine in babies is not mature enough to destroy bacteria. If eaten, it might hamper the digestive system and can lead to problems like diarrhea and indigestion.
It is always advised that you purchase honey from trusted brands only that commercially undergo extensive processing, including pasteurization, before being bottled up and marketed. This ensures you get the vital nutrients and not just add the amount of fructose in your body.
If you have any thoughts or experiences about eating honey and its effects or health benefits during pregnancy, write us in the comments below!
Dr. Mashiach has completed his MD at the Sackler School of Medicine, TAU; specialization in gynecology at the Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; fellowship in Endoscopy at the Polyclinique de I’Hotel-Dieu, Universite d’Auvergne, Clermont, France.
He is a Senior Physician, Director of the Department of Gynecology, which provides routine and preventative care services to its patients and a full range of gynecological surgical procedures for adequately managing its patients with benign gynecologic disorders.
He offers advanced care in all gynecological subspecialties such as Urogynecology, Colposcopy, Fetal Loss Clinic, and Post Menopausal Clinic.