Have you ever wondered if the honey in your pantry kills the beneficial bacteria in your gut? The short answer is no, but there’s more to this fact.
As someone who has struggled with gut health issues, I know firsthand how important it is to maintain a healthy balance of probiotics in the gut.
I’ve tried various methods to improve my gut health, from taking probiotic supplements to changing my diet. But one thing I never considered was the role of honey in gut health. Does honey kill probiotics? It’s a question I asked myself, and after researching and experimenting, I’ve found some surprising answers.
- Honey does not kill probiotics in the gut, but it can work in harmony with them to provide various benefits.
- Honey kills bad bacteria in the gut while serving as a prebiotic to nourish good bacteria. It could also be a good source of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, which support gut health.
- Honey can soothe upper respiratory tract infections, but it may cause infant botulism, allergies, and diarrhea in some cases.
- Raw honey has more advantages for gut health compared to pasteurized honey.
This blog post will dive deeper into the relationship between honey and probiotics and explore combining the two’s potential benefits and drawbacks. By the end, you’ll better understand how to incorporate honey into a probiotic-rich diet.
Does Honey Affect Probiotics in the Stomach?
Honey does not kill probiotics in your stomach. It does kill some bacteria in your gut, but those are the bad guys, like Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and E. coli, which cause you to fall sick.
Honey’s bacteria-killing properties are best seen when it is concentrated and on the skin’s surface, not inside the gut. That’s why honey is used for healing wounds.
It kills microbes by osmotically pulling the water out of the cells. And, since bacteria can’t live without water, they die off in the cells. Therefore, honey might speed up healing if you have a skin wound.
However, once eaten, practically all of those qualities are quickly neutralized by stomach acids and digestive enzymes.
How Does Honey Work In The Gut?
Honey serves as a prebiotic in the gut – a food source for probiotics.
Probiotics are the trillions of good microorganisms living in the gut that keep us healthy. But here’s the cool part – These microorganisms are specific about what they need to eat to stay healthy while they keep us in good shape.
Moreover, they require foods that make it to the large intestine intact without being digested by stomach enzymes. We call these foods PREBIOTICS. They act as nutrient sources for probiotics such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.
And honey is a rich source of prebiotics! So, eating honey is an extra benefit if you want to nourish your microbiome with probiotics.
How Does Honey Aid Gut Health?
Honey contains prebiotic sugars, which encourage good bacteria in the gut to grow and multiply. This assists digestion as well as boosts immunity.
Below I’ve discussed some of the benefits and side effects of honey.
6 Benefits of Honey for Gut Health
We all can use a healthy gut. As you may know, the state of your digestive system affects your overall health. Gut microbiota influences cognition, metabolism, weight control, and mental health.
Here’s how honey can benefit your gut health:
1. Balances the Gut Microbiome
Raw honey is a potent prebiotic. It nourishes good bacteria in the intestines, which facilitates healthy digestion.
Honey includes non-digestive oligosaccharides. And since our digestive system cannot absorb them, they travel to the colon, where they can ferment. As a result, short-chain fatty acids are produced, which support the growth of probiotics.
The short-chain fatty acids are called prebiotics. They help with the following in the gut:
- Digesting dietary fiber
- Preventing gut infections, and
- Producing vital vitamins for digestion
2. Kills Bad Bacteria
According to research, some types of honey reduce the number of bacteria that cause infections in the stomach.
Bacteria like Salmonella and Escherichia coli are common causes of stomach ulcers. Honey help reduces their activity by counterbalancing with the increase in the activity of good gut bacteria. Helicobacter pylori are also successfully treated with link honey.
Another study shows that honey kills the bacteria that cause acute gastroenteritis. Honey has elements that destroy harmful microorganisms. This characteristic and its ability to feed beneficial bacteria make taking honey a great addition to your gut nutrition.
3. A Good Source of Fiber
Honey is a good source of fiber, which is important for maintaining a healthy gut. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the intestines. They help to slow down digestion and keep you feeling full for longer. This fiber also lowers cholesterol levels and regulates blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to the stool.
They promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation.
Additionally, fiber feeds good bacteria in the gut and prevents bad bacteria from taking hold. By providing a good source of fiber, honey can help to support gut health and overall wellness.
4. Rich In Vitamins
Honey and honeycomb are fantastic sources of vitamins. These vitamins are essential for the growth of healthy gut flora. They have trace levels of fiber and vitamin A, which help digestion.
Vitamin A is essential for controlling the immune response when the body detects harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. The only place you can find pollen and royal jelly, rich in B vitamins, is in honey sandwiched between honeycombs.
5. Great Source of Antioxidants
Numerous plant compounds found in raw honey function as antioxidants. In some cases, honey contains the same amount of antioxidants as veggies and fruits. Antioxidants protect your body from cell damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals play a role in the aging process and the emergence of chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Studies show that antioxidant components in raw honey, known as polyphenols, have anti-inflammatory properties and oxidative stress-related conditions.
According to a review, raw honey may have potential health benefits for the digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, and urinary systems.
6. Soothes Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
An age-old cure for sore throats, honey eases the pain and can aid with coughing. It also helps kick a cold virus to the curb.
A study suggests that honey might be preferable to conventional treatments for upper respiratory tract infections. Honey’s efficacy in curing such diseases can also be traced to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Although honey has many incredible health benefits, it’s vital to remember that not all kinds work similarly. Honey sold in supermarkets is often pasteurized. When honey is pasteurized, its color and texture are enhanced while its shelf life is also extended. But the product loses a massive amount of nutrients throughout this process. Compared to pasteurized honey, raw honey has more advantages for gut health
Side Effects of Honey on Gut Health
Honey is a healthy food that goes well with probiotics. Although it has many advantages, honey might have some not-so-great side effects.
Here are four side effects of honey for the gut:
1. May Cause Infant Botulism
A baby consuming Clostridium botulinum creates a toxin inside the body. This results in infant botulism. Clostridium botulinum spores are present in honey.
To avoid botulism through honey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that honey should never be given to a baby younger than a year old. The infant’s motor and autonomic systems may be affected by infant botulism.
Possible signs of botulism include:
- droopy eyes
- loss of facial expression and head control
- feeble cry
- respiratory failure
Raw honey is much safer for adults. The stomach acid is sufficient to neutralize C. botulinum.
If you are allergic to bee pollen, you should also avoid honey. Even though allergies to honey are uncommon, an increased intake of meals with honey as a primary ingredient may raise the risk.
Allergies to honey can result in anaphylaxis, a condition that may be fatal. Feelings of nausea or vomiting, facial swelling, and shock are allergy symptoms you might want to look out for.
3. May Cause Diarrhea
Sounds contradictory. However, some research shows that honey contains more fructose than glucose. This results in partial fructose absorption accompanied by stomach discomfort and/or diarrhea.
While it doesn’t disprove the antibacterial properties in honey that initially deter diarrhea. It simply means that honey should be taken in moderation.
4. High in Sugar
Speaking of moderation, honey still includes sugar even though it can be a healthier choice than table sugar. Scientists recommend that patients with diabetes should use honey sparingly.
Hemoglobin A1C (hemoglobin linked to glucose) levels in the blood can rise with prolonged honey consumption. High hemoglobin A1C levels increase your chance of diabetes.
Moreover, consuming a lot of honey over a long period can cause weight gain. It will also raise your chance of developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
Honey might benefit people treating diabetes. It might positively contribute to overall health and may be included in meals moderately. However, it is best to see your doctor before incorporating it into your diet if you are struggling with diabetes.
Does Honey Kill Probiotics in Kefir?
Kefir is a fermented drink that’s usually made from animal milk. It is rich in probiotic strains and is suitable for digestive health. If you like to sweeten your kefir, you may have been told to avoid honey. But here’s the good news. Honey will not harm the probiotics in kefir.
Honey might have antibacterial properties, but despite the rumors, it does not kill the good bacteria in kefir. Research has shown that honey in the kefir beverage produces many potential probiotic bacteria and yeasts.
This study showed that the total viable count of the probiotic strains significantly increased with the addition of honey. There has also been a link to lower lactose content, protection against DNA damage, high antioxidant activity, and sensory quality in honey kefir.
Does Honey Kill Probiotics In Yogurt?
Many bacterial strains can be inhibited or killed by honey. However, this does not cover beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, often found in yogurt.
Research has shown that honey can be safely used with different probiotic cultures during yogurt manufacture and to extend yogurt’s nutritional benefits.
Another study shows that honey does not inhibit the starter culture in milk used for yogurt. Also, yogurt made with honey stays good in the fridge for up to 5 weeks with a high concentration of bifidobacteria probiotics still alive.
Can I take Probiotics with Honey?
A teaspoon of honey swirled into a probiotic smoothie or tea or eaten straight from the spoon doesn’t sound like a bad idea; in fact, it’s a great idea!
Taking honey with probiotics could benefit your gut and overall health since it boosts the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract.
Here is some helpful advice if you are still concerned about honey’s antibacterial properties: The antibacterial effects of honey are only potent at high concentrations (osmosis, remember?). When you mix honey with some water, its antibacterial superpowers are literally watered down and become regular sugar water.
What Probiotics Can I Take With Honey?
Two probiotic brands recommended for people who want to enjoy the benefits of probiotics and won’t be affected by taking honey are YourBiology and Biotics 8.
YourBiology is a trusted brand that offers a range of probiotic supplements with different strains and strengths to support digestive and immune health. Their products are free from fillers, additives, and artificial ingredients, making them suitable for individuals with dietary restrictions.
Biotics 8 is another reputable brand that offers high-quality probiotic supplements with a blend of eight beneficial bacteria strains. Their products are formulated with advanced delivery systems designed to support digestive, immune, and overall health. They also offer a wide range of probiotic formulas to meet specific health needs and preferences.
Does Raw Honey Have Probiotics?
Raw honey does not contain probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial for digestive and overall health. While raw honey is a natural sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers and does not contain probiotics.
Does Manuka Honey Kill Probiotics?
Manuka honey does not kill probiotics. Manuka honey is a type of honey produced in New Zealand from the nectar of the manuka tree. It has unique antimicrobial properties and is known for its healing and medicinal benefits. However, it does not kill probiotics and can be safely consumed with probiotic supplements or foods.
Is Honey A Probiotic or Just a Source?
Honey is not a probiotic, but it can be a source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible plant fibers that stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut. And honey contains various prebiotics. For example, fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides in honey prebiotics support the development of probiotics in the digestive system. However, honey itself is not a probiotic.