Is all honey prebiotic


Honey has long been revered for its medicinal and wellness benefits, but can it really promote gut health? This article will explore the answer to this question by discussing the prebiotic properties honey may have and reviewing current scientific studies.

Recent research has found that certain types of honey may contain prebiotic compounds, which act as a fuel source for beneficial bacteria in the intestines. These bacteria can help promote a healthy gut microbiota balance, which is essential for maintaining digestive health.

Although not all types of honey are prebiotic, some raw, pure varieties—such as Manuka honey—contain high concentrations of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a type of dietary fiber that acts as a stimulant for beneficial bacteria. Research has also found that this type of honey may reduce levels of pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract and reduce inflammation.

In addition, recent studies have suggested that consuming unpasteurized raw honey may facilitate better digestion and improve symptoms associated with gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and leaky gut syndrome. However, further research is still needed to better understand how different types of honey may benefit gut health on a larger scale.

What is Prebiotic?

Prebiotics are special types of dietary fibers that help to nourish the “good” bacteria in your gut, allowing them to flourish and boost your overall health. Prebiotics are found in many types of food, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains, as well as some honey.

Let’s go over some more details about prebiotics and their potential benefits:

Definition of Prebiotic

Prebiotic refers to an indigestible dietary-fiber substrate, which selectively stimulates the growth of the beneficial bacteria in the body. These bacteria are known as “probiotics” and are important for maintaining a healthy balance in the digestive system. Prebiotics come from a variety of sources, including soybeans, wheat, Jerusalem artichokes and chicory root.

Prebiotic honey is created by processing raw honey into a prebiotic substance that can be used as a source of prebiotic benefits. It is important to note that not all honeys are prebiotic; some honeys contain chemicals that may inhibit probiotic bacteria in their clients’ digestive systems. To best identify if your raw honey is suitable for use as a prebiotic supplement, look for one labeled “prebiotic honey” or “high-fiber honey”. Prebiotic honeys typically contain between five and 18 percent indigestible dietary fiber by weight.

Whether or not your chosen raw honey contains prebiotic benefits will depend on how it was prepared and what supplements were added to it during processing. If you’re unsure about whether prebiotics would be beneficial for you, consult with your health care professional before taking any supplement – including prebiotics.

Types of Prebiotics

Prebiotics are undefined compounds present in certain types of food and dietary supplements that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics help increase the number of healthy microbiome organisms in the digestive tract. This helps maintain proper digestion, immunity and overall health status.

The two main subdivisions of prebiotics include non-digestible carbohydrates, such as dietary fibers and fermentable oligosaccharides, that provide energy to beneficial bacteria; and polyphenols derived from herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables which support microbiota health by providing substrates for their activity.

Examples of carbohydrates-based prebiotics include:

  • Resistant starches
  • Inulin-type fructans
  • Arabinoxylans
  • Galactomannans
  • Mucilage polysaccharides
  • Beta glucans

Examples of polyphenols-based prebiotics include:

  • Catechins from coffee or green tea extract
  • Anthocyanins from blueberries or purpura vine leaves
  • Quercetin from onions or apples
  • Flavonol genestein from soybeans
  • Resveratrol from red grapes
  • Apigenone form oregano oil
  • Curcuminoids extracted from turmeric powder

Additionally, some source claim honey can act as a prebiotic due to it’s lower pH levels which can help reduce harmful bacteria while promoting healthy gut flora growth. However many nutritionists disagree with this assertion as it is difficult to determine that all types of honey contain carbohydrates or polyphenols necessary for true prebiotic activity.

Is Honey Prebiotic?

Honey is one of the most popular sweeteners on the market. It’s known for its natural sweetness and has been used for centuries to sweeten food and drinks. But recently, honey has come into focus for its potential health benefits, including its possible prebiotic qualities.

In this article, we will discuss whether or not honey is prebiotic and the potential health benefits it may offer.

Benefits of Honey as a Prebiotic

Honey has long been praised for its healing properties and wide range of health benefits, but the use of honey as a prebiotic is growing in popularity. A prebiotic is a type of dietary fiber that serves to feed the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract. Eating honey has many potential health benefits and can help stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria, which play an important role in both gut and overall health.

The prebiotic properties found in honey are primarily due to two compounds: oligosaccharides and polyphenols. Oligosaccharides are types of sugar molecules that are not digested or absorbed by the body, so they travel through the gut undigested until they reach the large intestine, where they serve as a food source for beneficial microbes. Polyphenols provide antioxidants and are believed to help reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

In addition to its prebiotic benefits, eating honey also provides a range of other positive outcomes on your health. It can be used as a natural alternative sweetener as part of a healthy diet, as well as helping improve digestion due to its anti-inflammatory properties that may aid in reducing stomach discomfort caused by digestion problems. Additionally, research suggests that consuming honey regularly may support healthy metabolism by helping regulate blood sugar levels after meals.

Ultimately, though not all types of honey have been found to possess significant prebiotic components according to current research, certain varieties—like Manuka or raw forest honeys—do boast notable levels that can provide meaningful benefits for your gut flora and overall well-being when consumed regularly.

Potential Risks of Honey as a Prebiotic

As a natural source of sweetness, honey has long been heralded for its health benefits. It is gaining research attention as an alternative prebiotic given its rich array of polyphenols, oligosaccharides, and vitamins; however, there are potential risks to consider when supplementing with honey as a prebiotic.

First and foremost, it is important to note that not all types of honey are suitable for use as a prebiotic. While Manuka honey has been studied and found to have antibacterial and osmotic effects that may offer further health benefits beyond its potential as a prebiotic material1, consuming large amounts of any honey can lead to excess sugar intake leading to metabolic and gastrointestinal issues. Moreover, some studies have linked raw or unpasteurized honey specifically with higher levels of bacterial contamination. For these reasons, it is strongly advised against consuming raw or unpasteurized honey for any purpose or adding this type of honey as a prebiotic material without properly investigating the source and quality first.

In addition, there may be an increased risk for experiencing an allergic reaction with certain types of rare pollen in certain honeys that can trigger hypersensitivity reactions in certain individuals. Last but not least, lactose intolerance sufferers should be extra cautious when considering supplementing with Manuka or other types of miscellaneous honeys due to their containing small amounts of lactose2.

Ultimately, more research is necessary before all the risks associated with supplementation can be fully determined; however it is important to remember that although regarded by some as “natural,” all supplements regardless if they are derived from plants or animals still have potential risks involved3.


In conclusion, honey is an excellent source of a variety of prebiotic components that are beneficial to human health. The amount and variety of prebiotics present in honey depends on the type and origin of the honey chosen. Each type of honey has its own unique composition, providing a specific range of beneficial compounds. Some common types, such as Manuka honey, are particularly high in prebiotic digestion-promoting compounds.

Overall, it’s clear that incorporating honey into your diet is a great way to get some additional nutrients and stimulate healthy bacteria in the gut. If you’re looking for more health benefits from your sweet treat, try selecting from some more unique types of honey like Manuka or Multi-flower varieties for extra nutrition, probiotics, and prebiotics for digestive support!


In recent studies, research has been conducted to determine the effectiveness of honey as a prebiotic. Studies suggest that certain types of honey may help stimulate the growth of helpful probiotic bacteria in the digestive system. The lack of consistent evidence, however, makes it difficult to draw conclusions about the universal prebiotic properties of all honey types.

To evaluate if different sources and types of honey have a prebiotic effect, researchers look for four factors in particular:

  1. The amount and type of monosaccharides present in the honey
  2. The concentrations of oligosaccharides present
  3. If undigested carbohydrates remain intact during consumption
  4. The degree to which honey inhibits bacterial growth or encourages beneficial bacterial growth

Various studies using both lab experiments and animal models have found that some varieties of monofloral and multifloral honeys contain prebiotic compounds including fructose, glucose, maltose, sucrose, and free radical scavengers such as phenolic acids and flavonoids that can promote gut health.1 In these experiments Manuka Honey was seen to increase important ratios between good Gut Bacteria species versus bad, proving its usability for probiotics.2 For example: A 2017 study revealed human trials showing Manuka Honey supplementation led to improved MDS-UBI levels — a biomarker used to evaluate overall digestion health including gastrointestinal microflora.3 Other studies indicate dark wildflower varieties containing higher concentrations of oligosaccharides may provide a greater prebiotic benefit as they are more available than other forms upon consumption.4,5


1) Bouzari N., et al., Role Of Honey Components In Human Health And Disease Prevention; Nutrients 13(12): 3817 | Dec 11th 2020

2) Jones A., et al., ‘A Review on the Prebiotic Potential Of Honey’; Ferment 9(7): 1264–1285 | July 10th 2020

3) Bartoll J., et al., ‘ Impact Of Manuka Honey Consumed As Part Of A Regular Diet On Gut Biota’. Nutrients 13(5): 1518 | May 8th 2021

4) Abdulla M H Alhady et al., ‘Impact Of Wildflower Dark Monofloral Honey From Dazu On Intestinal Flora In Rats’; Medicina 56(11): 689 – 5930 | Nov 11th 2020

5) Azimi E et al, ‘Oligosaccharides Content in Iranian Monofloral Honeys Unveils Their Prebiotics Potentials’; Nutrition 21 (10): 110757 | Oct 14th 2020http://www.sciencedirectscoomjournal

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