(NEXSTAR) – Don’t try everything you see on the internet, kids.
A new trend on TikTok is encouraging adventurous eaters to chew down gobs of frozen honey, but experts warn that the sweeter-than-sweet treat will result in more than just a tummy ache.
“I actually have seen the videos, a few times,” says gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, an adjunct assistant professor of clinical medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in NYC. “And the minute I saw it, my first thought was, ‘That is a lot of sugar, that is a lot of honey, and that is a lot of diarrhea.’”
In many of the videos that Sonpal is referring to, TikTok users can be seen transferring honey (or high-fructose corn syrup) to a water bottle, freezing it, and then squeezing a cylindrical tube of the semi-solid stuff into their waiting mouths. But eating honey in such large quantities has the potential to cause major gastrointestinal distress, especially for someone with a fructose intolerance.
Doctors generally estimate that between 25% and 33% of the population are fructose intolerant, but Sonpal says it’s usually not “all or nothing.”
“There’s a threshold” that most people’s bodies can withstand, even if they don’t normally have problems with fructose, Sonpal says. But the amounts ingested on TikTok are usually more than most can handle. At that point, fructose stops being absorbed and essentially ferments inside the body, drawing fluid from the colon and intestines, which is then rapidly expelled as diarrhea.
“That’s why this iced honey challenge has probably given a decent number of people diarrhea,” Sonpal says.
At least a few TikTok users have confirmed this, with one joking that she’d need to get her stomach pumped, and another admitting to an “urgent bowel movement” later that day.
Even among segments of the population that have no major issues with fructose, eating frozen honey has its drawbacks. Children under 2, for instance, should not be eating honey due to the risk of botulism, according to Sonpal. And anyone who consumes too much sugar — kids, teens, adults — isn’t going to feel so great, no matter their tolerance.
“You still may notice some gastrointestinal discomfort, because it’s a large sugar load that’s hitting the stomach. You’ll feel like you ate too many cupcakes in one sitting — bloated, loose bowels, lethargic. And doing it chronically, to get views, can lead to long-lasting effects,” says Sonpal.
“We’re not made like Pooh Bear,” he adds. “In fact, if Winnie the Pooh was accurate, [it would] show Pooh on the toilet most of the time.”
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