Honey is a surprisingly versatile and valuable gift of nature. It is often regarded as a simple sweetener and source of sugar, but it is in fact a host of numerous health benefits.
Produced from flower nectars that have been mixed with bee enzymes and passed on through regurgitation, honey has an unusual chemical composition that makes it a powerful healing compound.
Considering their significant contribution to nature and our lives in general, we should do our part to protect bees and support sustainable production of honey through buying only organic products and adopting a
Honey is a natural source of carbohydrates and calories. It is primarily composed of monosaccharides fructose and glucose. A tablespoon of honey contains a concentrated amount of energy (64 calories) yet it has a healthy glycemic index which means that it is absorbed slowly into the blood stream without causing sudden increase in the insulin levels unlike table sugar. In its pure and natural form, honey is very easy to digest. It also contains minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, magnesium, manganese and zinc, as well as B vitamins and certain amino acids.
And beyond honey’s delectable taste and nutritional value are its astounding properties that promote healing and optimum health. Here are some of the amazing health facts about honey:
1. Honey heals wounds and burns
For thousands of years, honey has been used to treat wounds and burns due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Its slightly acidic pH (3-4) impedes bacterial growth while its antioxidant component inhibits free radical formation. Honey keeps the wound free from infection and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent which minimizes swelling and scarring.
Some studies confirm that honey is an effective treatment for burns as it helps ease pain and heal wound faster. Researchers also conclude that topical honey is a cheaper alternative to oral antibiotics which are often associated with negative side effects. In a study among patients with wounds and leg ulcers, topical application of honey results to improved wound healing and cured infection.
For treating wounds and burns, 15-30 ml of honey may be applied directly on the affected area every 12-48 hours and then cover it with sterile gauze or dressing.
2. Honey has the ability to boost energy
With its high calorie content, honey provides an instant boost of energy that helps improve performance and reduce fatigue, especially during exercise and athletic activities. The glucose content of honey is immediately converted into energy while fructose which is gradually absorbed into the bloodstream serves as a sustained source of energy. A recent study suggests that honey is a good ergogenic aid as it regulates energy expenditure and supports muscle recovery after workout.
If you are up for a workout or feeling lethargic,
you may want to take a spoon of honey, drink beverage with added honey or eat snacks with honey instead of grabbing sugar-laden energy drink. This will give you adequate energy to perform your activities all throughout the day.
3. Honey is a good remedy for digestive problems
Honey is found to be a beneficial treatment to digestive problems including diarrhea, indigestion, stomach ulcers and gastroenteritis. The result of a study published in the British Medical Journal showed that honey reduces the duration of bacterial diarrhea among infants and young children with gastroenteritis when used as an oral rehydration solution. It is also a mild laxative agent that helps reduce constipation, bloating and gas.
4. Honey is an immune system booster
As a rich antioxidant source, honey helps remove harmful free radicals in the body that can otherwise undermine the functions of the immune system. In addition, its antibacterial properties and probiotic content keep the digestive system healthy which further strengthens the body's ability to fight against diseases.
Honey combined with lemon juice in warm water taken before breakfast daily makes a great cleansing tonic.
5. Honey supports weight loss
Despite its high caloric content, honey is an ideal fuel for burning fats. It contains natural minerals and vitamins that stimulate the metabolism of stored fats and cholesterol within the body.
To help aid in effective weight loss, honey may be combined with warm water, lemon or cinnamon.
6. Honey soothes sore throat
One of the common uses of honey is for treating sore throat. It helps relieve sore throat and kills bacteria that cause infection. Likewise, due to its anti-inflammatory effect, honey reduces the frequency of cough and calms nighttime cough in children.
Taking a spoonful of honey directly or in warm water can help soothe sore throat and alleviate inflammation. You can also opt to gargle with a mixture of honey, lemon juice and salt.
7. Honey provides defense against cancer
Recent evidence suggests the possible role of honey in the prevention and progression of cancer because of its anti-carcinogenic and anti-tumor properties. According to the Mayo Clinic, consumption of honey may also be beneficial in preventing low blood cell count among patients undergoing chemotherapy. Moreover, a study on the effects of Manuka honey revealed that its intake can inhibit radiation-induced dermatitis in breast cancer patients.
Honey is definitely a healthier alternative to table sugar, but it has to be taken in moderation. Also, bear in mind that honey is not recommended for children one year old and below as it may contain some spores that can cause infant botulism.
We owe the production of honey to the hardworking bees. In fact, bees are the only insect in the world that produce food for human. And what is more interesting is that they have to visit about 2 million flowers and travel 55,000 miles to obtain enough nectar to produce one pound of honey. The honey they make not only satisfies our palate but also serves as food for health. They also provide us with sources of food through pollination that is widely responsible for plant reproduction.