Like me, you must have heard and read that honey is a wonder food. Well-known celebrities have been endorsing honey as sweet, healthy and nutritious with amazing health benefits. But when you are expecting, you cross check everything as you are super conscious of your health. You might be wondering if it’s safe to eat honey during pregnancy – since you must have heard that it is unsafe for babies. While that is true, let us take you through all you need to know about eating honey during pregnancy.
Is It Safe To Eat Honey During Pregnancy?
Yes, it is safe to eat honey during pregnancy. Pasteurised honey is safe for consumption, though there have been no studies that unpasteurised honey is unsafe, yet it is best avoided during this delicate period of your life.
Store bought honey is mostly pasteurised by heating and cooling method which also prevents fermentation and slows crystallisation increasing its shelf life. Farmers and bee-farms sell unpasteurised honey, and though it is not regarded as unsafe unlike unpasteurised cheese, yet it is best to choose a good brand of honey rather than buying from roadside vendors.
Another important consideration is to always eat honey that is certified to be pure from a government authority.
Coming to safety, you must have heard that honey causes infant botulism in infants. Though it is a rare condition, it can be fatal. This so happens as babies’ digestive system is yet not mature and is unable to fight the bacteria that can cause botulism. On the same lines, adults’ digestive systems are matured enough and botulism is a very, very rare concern. Hence pregnant women can safely consume honey without worrying about botulism.
How Does Eating Honey Benefit During Pregnancy?
Honey has always been known as a super food. Honey is used as a natural sweetener, added to delicacies around the world and is renowned for its medical properties. People from all age groups can consume honey to derive the immense benefits it offer, some of which are enlisted below-
1. Honey boosts the immunity
Honey is full of antioxidants and has antibacterial properties that boost the digestive system inturn improving the immunity. It also has flavonoids, that works as vitamins by holding bacteria and viruses that may cause illness.
As pregnancy weakens the immune system and pregnant women are advised not to take medicine for general ailments, honey is great to keep common illnesses and infections at bay.
2. Honey is great for common cold and cough
Common cold and cough are two ailments that cause a lot of distress even in healthy individual. Also, it seems like they are persistent infections. Several home remedies are recommended for people suffering from cold in the form of teas. Cinnamon, black pepper, ginger etc are some other ingredients generally used with honey to treat cough and cold. Honey by itself is also a powerful cough suppressant.
During pregnancy, if you happen to have an episode of common cold and cough, it is best to avoid medicine and stick to natural remedies that use honey. Having honey by itself regularly will keep these common infections at a bay.
3. Sore throat can be treated with honey
Honey is known to have effective anti-inflammatory properties that make it an excellent home remedy for sore throat. Honey has the ability to coat the throat and soothe the membranes thus providing relief from sore throat.
4. Treating mouth ulcers with honey
Mouth ulcers can be quite painful and uncomfortable, especially during pregnancy. At times mouth ulcers are indicative of the digestive system not working properly. Pregnant women often get constipated and may get mouth ulcers frequently. Since medication is not always recommended to pregnant women, they can use the versatile honey to cure them.
Honey can also be useful to treat stomach ulcers.
5. Honey for insomnia
If you are struggling with insomnia, mix a spoonful of honey in warm milk and drink it before going to bed. In Ayurvedic science, honey is known to have hypnotic action which aids in restful and good sleep.
6. Honey for oral health
Ayurvedic experts also recommend honey for healthy gums and teeth. During pregnancy when gum health assumes a lot of importance and no dental procedure is mostly used, adding honey to your daily oral health regime can be hugely beneficial.
7. Honey helps heals wounds
Honey has anti-bacterial properties and has been traditionally used by natives of Egypt, China, Greece, Rome and other countries as a topical medicine for cuts, wounds and burns. If you happen to have an accidental cut or burn during your gestation period, you can apply honey for instant relief and ditch the OTC pills.
How Much Honey Can A Pregnant Woman Eat?
Now, something as delicious and beneficial as honey could be hard to put off, right? Well, honey is known to contain fructose and has calories which can wreck your sugar levels. You need to be more watchful if you also have diabetes, gestational or otherwise.
A spoonful of honey has about 64 calories, so you need to ensure that you do not exceed 10% of your total calories from simple sugars. 2-4 tablespoons of honey will give you about 240 calories, which is almost 10% of 1800-2400 calories that a normal pregnant woman is recommended to consume. Mind it that it also means you are not having any other simple sugar.
As it is, moderation is the best path to take when you are pregnant.
What Are The Side Effects Of Eating Honey During Pregnancy?
As it is, moderation is the best path to take when you are pregnant. Honey is a natural sweetener and excess consumption can lead to various side effects such as-
- Affects blood sugar levels: Honey is a sweetener and has sugars. It is not the best thing to be consumed by people with diabetes. Honey aggravates insulin sensitivity and you must be careful with the same during pregnancy
- Weight gain: The added calories in honey can make the weighing scale go right. Include honey as per your macros if you are on a controlled and planned pregnancy weight diet plan. If you are already putting on excess weight, honey is best avoided
- Cramps: Honey can cause stomach cramps, constipation and other gastrointestinal problems
- If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will need to keep your sugar levels under constant check. Hence, do take considerable precautions when eating honey
- Also, avoid eating honey if you have any gastrointestinal problems, or have had a course of antibiotics because that would impact the enzymes in your digestive tract
How Can I Use Honey During Pregnancy?
Honey can be eaten in many ways. If you wish to incorporate honey in your pregnancy diet, you can use it as a:
- Dressing for your salads
- As a sweetener in your water based sugarless teas, such as green tea, lemon tea etc.
- In your baking – you can add honey even as an egg replacer
- Ditch the sugar in your bowl of oats and cereal and add honey instead
- Added to hot beverages as it tends to destroy some of its useful enzymes
- Mixed with foods containing Vitamins C and D as honey does not respond positively to them
However, honey should not be-
Is It Safe To Eat Manuka Honey During Pregnancy?
You must have heard about Manuka honey and might be wondering if its safe during pregnancy. Reputed for its outstanding quality, manuka honey is largely considered safe for pregnant women across all trimesters. Made organically from a special tree called Manuka, hence the name, there has been no counter studies to prove it can be unsafe.
You can safely consume manuka honey during pregnancy, unless you have any other issue as listed above. Or if you are allergic to honey.
Which Honey Should I Buy During Pregnancy?
Not just during pregnancy, but otherwise also you should only buy good quality, packaged, pasteurised honey from reputed brands. To ensure you are not eating adulterated or contaminated version of honey, stick to certified brands.
Going for organic honey is also a great choice.
All in all, remember, anything that seems out of ordinary to you after eating honey, deserves to be discussed with your doctor.