Honey has gotten used for generations as a natural sweetener that provides sugars that don’t come out of a bag from the store. Unlike bleached, processed sugar, honey is more beneficial for your body, when consumed appropriately.
As is the case with food and consuming beverages, moderation is crucial to enjoying nature’s candy. If you have diabetes or a similar body sugar disorder, you’ll want to be especially careful in consuming large quantities.
While a teaspoon or two in a cup of hot tea likely isn’t going to cause problems, most people remain unaware that any side effects exist at all. You probably won’t need to make any severe adjustments to your diet or lifestyle, but it is better to remain aware of what could happen when you ingest too much.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Honey?
Below are some of the most frequently encountered side effects of ingesting too much honey. Keep these warning signs in mind if you find yourself eating through a few jars each month.
It Can Pack on the Pounds
Everyone is familiar with the children’s book classic Winnie the Pooh. And while it’s funny when he gets too plump to fit into entrances, it isn’t too far-fetched that his honey addiction is to blame.
Medical studies have shown that the human mind reacts to sugar similarly as it does to narcotics like cocaine. The reason why is your more addictive brain centers latch on to the temporary euphoria, as well as the sugar rush that comes soon after eating.
As a result, if you always seem to have your hands in the honey jar, you, too, will experience some increased stuffing around your waist as well. Anyone who has read the books has seen how difficult it is for Pooh’s friends to get him unstuck.
Moderation is the key to honey consumption, and even bears in the wild tend to favor heart-healthy raw salmon over too many sweets. Make sure that you eat honey sparingly to keep your mind from craving more, leading to unwanted weight gain.
It Can Cause Abdominal Pain
Many people claim that after eating honey, they experience severe abdominal pain and discomfort for hours afterward. While it is certainly possible that eating honey can cause aches and pains, the reason behind why can differ between people.
If the pain is mild or it tends to only last a few moments to an hour, it likely is not a digestive issue. The problem could stem from some mild reaction or intolerance to the allergens and pollen within the food.
For others, however, it might be that something is preventing their body from digesting it properly. As a result, their intestines struggle to break it down and pass it through, causing severe discomfort.
Every day, the medical community becomes more aware of dietary intolerances and allergies, and it may be that you just can’t enjoy honey. Speaking with a specialist or dietician may help you narrow down what your body’s reason why remains, or if you need to cut it from your diet altogether.
Keep Away from Infants
Feeding young children continues keeping parents in a panic. It seems as if every day, there is a new item that must stay away from your child or else you could cause lasting problems.
Young infants, which are those that are one year old or younger, must not receive honey. Although you might believe that you are doing them a favor by not feeding them processed sugar, you are putting them at risk of severe illness or even death.
In these younger users, honey can lead to botulism, which is a form of poisoning that occurs from bacterial toxins. Unfortunately, the raw honey is too natural for baby’s developing digestive systems to consume safely.
Although the mortality rate of this illness is only about 7.5%, it can quickly grow fatal in young infants. Make sure to keep the honey bottle away until they get a little older.
Beware Honey Intoxication
While it’s true that honey has gotten used in making fermented mead for thousands of years, it’s the raw honey you must stay aware of consuming. Although the condition gets referred to as honey intoxication, it is not the same as too much alcohol.
Honey intoxication is also known as mad honey, and the condition occurs from having too much of the naturally-occurring grayanotoxins present in the sugars. Although it has gotten used as a recreational drug in some cultures, it is best to avoid ingesting it for health reasons.
The grayanotoxins produce a poising effect, which starts mild and becomes increasingly severe. If the person continues ingesting it, it could cause paralysis, nerve damage, and other related symptoms.
Not all honey has toxicity levels high enough to produce the effect, and most jarred honey have the poison removed during the manufacturing process. However, if you purchase yours from an individual seller or farmer, be wary of consuming too much at one time.
You Might Be Allergic
Most medical experts agree that a more neutral approach to fighting back against environmental allergens is regularly consuming locally sourced raw honey. The reason why is that the pollens collected by your friendly neighborhood honey bees will act as a flu shot, where it introduces small amounts of allergens to your body where you can develop antibodies.
However, you might find the hard way that you are far more allergic to the pollens used in production, and that the raw honey has the opposite effect. When you experience food allergies, however, it leads to more than just a runny nose.
Chances are you’ll experience inflammation throughout many areas of your body, from your sinus passages down to your digestive systems. It’s part of what causes the cases of post-consumption abdominal pain discussed above.
If you notice symptoms whenever you eat honey, you may want to stop consuming it altogether or find a different brand. By locating a blend from outside of your community, you might react differently.
is a registered dietitian with over 10 years of experience in the field of nutrition. She has a Master’s degree in Nutritional Science from Dhaka University and has worked with various clients to help them achieve their health goals through personalized diet plans. Mounota is passionate about educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle and has written extensively on the subject for various publications.