Honey: Properties and proven health benefits

Honey: Properties and proven health benefits

By now everybody have heard and read a lot of times that honey is a healthy alternative to sugar, but what are all the benefits of honey that could be taken if it is included in the diet?

Although before choosing to take more honey and less sugar to sweeten desserts, take into account something that is important and that is when we talk about the beneficial nutritional properties of honey, they always refer to raw or handmade honey, which is obtained by cold filtering the honey that is extracted directly from the hives, because honey loses all those excellent properties when it is subjected to temperatures above 40ºC, making it a mere sweetener.

This is what happens with the majority of the honeys of industrial production that, to avoid the crystallization of the same and that is always liquid is subjected to heating processes that destroy almost all its properties.

Another quality guarantee of "close" natural honey is its purity and origin. The small beekeeper works in an area of ​​blooms that keep a balance of composition in the nectar of the plants. The industrial honey has been manipulated by large packaging companies mixing honeys from hidden origins, very often from China.

The associations of beekeepers demand a law that forces to determine the origin of the honey, whereas at the present time the big packers indicate "mixture of honeys coming from the EU and from countries not members of the EU", that is to say ... of any part of the world, without the controls that we demand for food in our country.

Therefore, natural honey is an excellent raw material for health.

What is honey and what is it made of?

What is honey

Honey is a dense and sweet liquid produced by bees from the nectar of flowers, stored in the combs of hives and that's where it matures. Then it is collected and filtered to remove impurities.

Although there are several types of honey depending on the type of flowers from which it comes and the chemical composition can vary a bit from one to another in general honey is composed of:

Carbohydrates: Natural honey contains glucose and fructose. Raw honey also contains complex trisaccharides that are part of the pollen that is present in artisanal honeys.

Proteins and amino acids: Honey, apart from the essential amino acids, contains proteins in the form of enzymes such as amylase, invertase, glucosidase and other free amino acids such as proline.

Minerals: Mainly potassium, although calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium are also present.

Vitamins: It emphasizes mainly the content in vitamin C, but also contributes vitamins of group B and vitamin K.

The most common composition of honey is:

  • Water: 14 - 22%
  • Fructose:28 - 44%
  • Glucose: 22 - 40%
  • Saccharose: 0.2 - 7%
  • Maltose: 2 - 16%
  • Other sugars: 0.1 - 8%
  • Proteins and amino acids: 0.2 - 2%
  • Vitamins , enzymes , hormones, organic acids and others    : 0.5 - 1%
  • Minerals: 0.5 - 1.5%
  • Ashes: 0.2 - 1.0%

The most frequent minerals are calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, phosphorus and potassium. Also present around half of the existing amino acids, organic acids (acetic acid, citric acid, among others) and vitamins of the B complex, vitamin C, D and E. Honey also has a considerable variety of antioxidants (flavonoids and phenolics ).

The color of honey varies between different types. The color of honey is determined, mainly, by the floral source; however, it has not been possible to identify exactly which agents are responsible for imparting the color to the nectar and later to the honey. However, it is known that in addition to the minerals obtained from the soil, pigments of vegetable origin can contribute to the color of honey.

Apart from how food, honey can be used in many other ways to benefit the health. Dr. Ron Fessenden, a retired doctor and chairman of the Committee for Honey and Health in the United States (a non-profit organization), is an expert on the physiological benefits of honey. In one of his multiple conferences he reported on the properties of honey, such as regulating blood sugar, reducing metabolic stress and promoting sleep recovery.

Remember: Natural honey has many benefits for thr health, not other types of honey adulterated, mixed or that have been subjected to high temperatures.

Types of honey

Different types of honey are distinguished according to the type of nectar that honey bees use to produce honey:

Honey of flowers, which are those in which the nectar comes from flowers and can be of two types:

  • Monofloral , when at least 70% of the nectar comes from the same type of flower, such as chestnut, heather, orange-orange blossom, eucalyptus, blackberry-honey of silva, acacia, ..
  • Multifloral , or honeys of "Thousand Flowers" when the nectar comes from different floral varieties without clear predominance of any of them.
  • Mielatos or honey of honeydew, are the honeys in which the nectar is obtained from the sap of some trees such as pines or oaks.

Benefits of honey for health

Benefits of honey

The use of sugar did not begin to extend until the sixteenth century, but much earlier, already in ancient Egyptian times honey was consumed and is one of the most amazing foods that nature offers us, its consumption is healthy and rich.

Some time ago, the compis of Omicrono pointed out some beneficial properties of honey.

It is a pre-digested food, meaning that when it enters the body it gives us energy directly . That makes it an almost indispensable food for athletes.

It is a potent antiseptic and antimicrobial since the presence of organic acids and enzymatic substances together with the low activity of water that inhibits the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. In topical application directly on the skin it can be useful for the treatment of infectious processes such as acne or for wounds to heal before.

It is rich in antioxidants, as it contains flavonoids, phenolic acids, some enzymes, organic acids, vitamin C or carotenoids. Heather honey has the most antioxidants.

It increases the amount of glycogen in the liver and protects this organ.

Soothing: The components of honey that may have special relationship with nerve and brain functions are choline, and acetylcholine that are incorporated by bees during the process of making honey.

Moisturizing for the skin, if you add a few spoonfuls of honey to the bath water, it softens and hydrates dry skin.

It has mild laxative effects that promote intestinal transit and helps fight constipation.

It is diuretic, because of its potassium content.

Stimulates the immune system and helps mitigate spring allergies.

1. Honey regulates blood sugar

It seems counterintuitive that honey regulates blood sugar. But the secret of its ability to do so is in the balance of fructose and glucose. When honey is consumed, the fructose portion allows glucose to be taken up by the liver to form glycogen, which becomes available to the brain, heart, kidneys and red blood cells. This improves the functioning of essential organs and tissues, eliminating glucose from the circulation and therefore reducing blood sugar.

Studies have shown that honey do not barely raise blood sugar or insulin levels, producing more glycogen per gram of honey than any other food.

2. The consumption of natural honey reduces metabolic stress

All stress, whether emotional, psychological or physiological, is translated into the body as metabolic stress. One function of the adrenal gland is to produce adrenaline and cortisol, which stimulates the breakdown of muscle protein into amino acids to make new sugars. This occurs when the brain thinks it is in danger of running out of fuel, for example when doing physical exercise or during nighttimes sleep.

Natural honey produces glycogen in the liver, which is the reserve of energy needed by the brain for normal functioning. We will have sufficient reserves of glycogen if we consume natural honey at breakfast, before bedtime and at regular intervals throughout the day (especially before and after exercise), these glycogen stores of the liver will prevent the release of stress hormones.

3. Natural honey promotes the recovery of sleep

If we consume honey before going to bed, we store glycogen in the liver, which will supply it to the blood when the brain needs it, preventing it from triggering the crisis when it detects low levels of glycogen.

In addition, consuming natural honey stimulates nighttimes relaxation and sleep. The natural sugar contained in honey produces a slight secretion of insulin, which allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily and thus allow the secretion of melatonin, a hormone vital for the daily regulation of sleep-wake. Therefore it is highly recommended to consume a spoonful of honey with a glass of warm milk (containing tryptophan) before bedtime, to have a good night's sleep.

Melatonin also regulates cardiac rhythms, helps improve immunity and facilitates the reconstruction of tissues during the night.

Dr. Fessenden recommends 3 to 5 tablespoons of honey a day, without side effects, risks or negative health consequences.

Is it enough? Well, honey still has a lot more therapeutic effects...

4. Honey as a treatment for constipation

Honey has a high content of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which although have a mainly energetic function, when it reach the colon it behave in a similar way to vegetable fiber: it capture the water increasing the volume of the feces and cause gases that increase the peristalsis or intestinal mobility. So it exerts a mild laxative effect.

It is also the preferred food of the beneficial bacteria that inhabit the colon (our intestinal flora) responsible for the fermentation and putrefaction of the food waste that will give rise to the feces.

5. Natural honey improves brain function

Having a brain that works properly and that is healthy is one of the goals of a human being. Getting it is a complicated problem. You have to provide the energy you need for your cells to perform their functions correctly. The function of calcium in the brain is very important, since neurons use calcium to originate the electrical signal, which is conducted from one neuron to another to communicate the messages. If there is not enough calcium, the brain will not work properly. There is scientific information that has shown that natural honey helps to absorb and fix the calcium in the body, favouring a correct brain function.

In addition to the brain, being an excellent recalcifier, it also helps to prevent osteoporosis and bone problems.

6. Acne and other skin problems

Most people suffer from acne at least once in their life. The most important causes are hormonal imbalance and bacterial colonization of the skin.

Some natural remedies provide antibacterial coverage comparable to that of commercial products, with the benefit that it is better tolerated than conventional chemical agents. Of these natural remedies, honey is one of the best options for the treatment of acne caused by bacteria.

How does honey treat acne?

As an antimicrobial agent, honey acts through various mechanisms:

It deprives microbes of the moisture it needs to survive.

It acts as a chelating agent, altering the cellular processes of the bacterial ones that require iron.

The bees also add an enzyme called glucose oxidase. When applying honey on the wound, this enzyme produces the local release of hydrogen peroxide. This peroxide behaves in a similar way to the popular medicine against acne, benzoyl peroxide: it breaks the cell walls of bacteria.

It reduces the pH of the surface of the skin on which it is applied. Honey has a pH between 3.2 and 4.5. This acidity is enough to kill most microbes.

7. Minimize allergies

Taking honey from the area where you live two months before the bloom of the area can decrease allergies. Bees carry pollen from flowers that worsen seasonal allergies, and part of this pollen is incorporated into honey. Consuming natural honey from the area before the allergy season can help the body accept pollen without rejection and make the allergy go away.

8. Wounds, burns and ulcers

The antibacterial property of honey allows preventing infection of burns or minor injuries. The density of honey protects against bacteria and dirt that enter a wound. Apply the honey to the cut or wound and cover it with a bandage.

9. Dry skin

Honey is an excellent ingredient to use in the bath thanks to its healing and softening properties. It can be applied directly on the rough skin, or dissolve the honey in the water and add the mixture in the bath water.

10. Dry lips

Apply a little honey on dry or cracked lips, and leave for a few minutes to soften.

11. The menstrual cycle

Honey stimulates the production of omega-6 fatty acid, which regulates the hormonal processes in the body.

As you can see, natural honey is one of the purest, most natural foods with the greatest number of benefits on our health, and even today there is much more scientific research being done because it is thought that there are still more important benefits than they could not be corroborated.

12. Stimulant of the immune system

Honey has antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it ideal for stimulating the immune system, not only when it is ingested, but also when it is applied topically on the skin. These properties help clean wounds and cuts and keep them free of infection, making it a good natural antiseptic.

Healthy reasons to eat honey

Healthy reasons to eat honey

Honey has many varieties, depending on the floral source of pollen or nectar that the bees harvested in their hive. Here are 6 healthy reasons to use honey, natural and therapeutic sweetener ... and help care for these tireless pollinators:

1. Sweetener with nutritional properties

Unlike sugar, which is simply a sweetener, honey is a rich source of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Some of these include niacin, potassium, calcium and zinc. It also contains antioxidants and amino acids. However, the nutritional value will depend on the floral source and type of honey.

2. Natural therapies

Honey has been used for a long time as a natural way to soothe sore throats. Try this simple tea medicine or hot water with lemon and honey when the throat needs a bit of relief. Honey is also an effective suppressant of cough.

3. Stimulant of the immune system

Honey has antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it ideal for stimulating the immune system, not only when it is ingested, but also when it is applied topically on the skin. These properties help clean wounds and cuts and keep them free of infection, making it a good natural antiseptic.

4. Moisturizing and exfoliating

Using a honey-based facial mask in dry or rough areas can moisturize the skin, because honey helps retain moisture. Try making a mask with pumpkin and you will have a wonderful scrub. Due to its ability to retain moisture, honey is also at the base of many hair conditioners, which also nourishes.

5. Toxic-free

Buying honey from small producers, certified organic production or practicing sustainable beekeeping, helps ensure that you are not receiving a dose of illegal antibiotics or heavy metals such as lead in your sweetener.

6. Rural developments

Buying local honey also helps rural development and the support of local beekeepers, as they are so vital in ensuring that bees do not disappear. Look for honey from small producers nearby.

Of course, if we want to continue enjoying honey, we must help protect bees in our environment, not using pesticides, planting more flowers and supporting local organizations that fight to protect them.

Side effects

Side effects

Current regulations prohibit the attribution of properties that are not supported by sufficient accredited technical or scientific evidence, and expressly recognized by the State Health Administration.

Do not give honey to children under one year. Honey (like other sweeteners) can also be extremely dangerous for babies. This is because when mixed with the child's non-acid digestive juices, an ideal environment is created for the growth of Clostridium botulinum spores, which produce toxins. Botulism spores are among the few bacteria that survive in honey, but they are also widely present in the environment. Although these spores are harmless to adults, due to their stomach acidity, the digestive system of young children is not developed enough to destroy them, so spores can potentially cause infant botulism. For this reason it is advisable not to feed children under the age of one year with honey or any other sweetener.





Posted on 03/06/2018 by Ghada Ferhi Benefits and virtues of herbs 0 26509
Tag: Honey, Bee

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