How Does Honey Affect People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

For those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, any food should be eaten with caution as it could affect the symptoms greatly. Dietary changes can be really effective in managing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome which include stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, and cramps.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a health condition that affects the large intestine and leads to symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, excess gas, irregular bowel movement, and diarrhea or constipation.

Healthy diet changes can help in reversing this condition. But, it should be done with careful consideration of essential vitamins and minerals and monitoring of the signs and symptoms.

How Does Honey affect Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Positive Effects of Taking Honey on IBS

Honey is a natural sweetener that is known for its ability to fight inflammation, prevent bacterial growth, and decrease oxidative stress.(1)

A study done on mice found honey to alleviate the symptoms of constipation. It does so by drawing in water into the stool and modifying the composition of the beneficial gut bacteria.(2)

Hence it can be said that honey can act as a laxative and relieve symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome who suffer from constipation and bloating. Still more human research is needed to prove the same.

There is manuka honey that comes from the nectar of the manuka bush, a plant native to New Zealand. It may offer additional benefits. Manuka honey has antimicrobial properties that can protect against harmful pathogens and bacteria in the gut.(3)

A rat study found, on administering manuka honey along with anti-inflammatory medications, decreased intestinal inflammation.(4)

Negative Effects of Taking Honey on IBS

Along with the above positive, there are a few negatives that question the consumption of honey by people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

It is known that manuka honey contains compound methylglyoxal that can worsen the symptom of diarrhea in people with irritable bowel syndrome.(5)

More studies are needed on humans to know about the effect of manuka honey on irritable bowel syndrome.

Also, honey on other hand contains fructose, a type of sugar that is classified as a FODMAP (Fermentable oligo-, di, monosaccharides, and polyols.)(6)

Eating high FODMAP foods may worsen the symptoms such as gas, bloating, and stomach pain in people with irritable bowel syndrome.(7) This is why people on a low FODMAP diet limit honey intake along with limiting other high in fructose foods such as peaches, pears, and apples.

The sensitivity to different food varies in people with irritable bowel syndrome. In some honey triggers digestive issues while a few have no issues tolerating it.

To Eat Honey Or To Avoid It When Suffering From IBS?

There is no proper research on whether the honey surely has a positive or negative effect on people with irritable bowel syndrome. It may have positive effects on digestion but is a high FODMAP food.

Its ability to relieve symptoms of digestion depends on the type of honey, the amount of honey consumed and the symptoms experienced. Some people have no problem tolerating high fructose food while a few are very sensitive.

Trying a low FODMAP diet would be helpful in determining whether or not honey triggers IBS symptoms. This would involve eliminating all the high FODMAP food and slowly introducing them into the diet.

How honey affects people with irritable bowel syndrome is limited. Being high in fructose may lead to worsening digestive issues such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating. If suffering from diabetes and want to know whether to avoid honey or not, try following a low FODMAP diet, and then you can judge by introducing honey and seeing if it has any negative or positive effects on the body.

A person can also seek help from a nutritionist or a registered dietician on how to alter the diet and to know what is affecting the symptom adversely.

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