Is Honey Healthy? The Health Benefits Of Honey Explained
Table of Contents
- How Is Honey Made?
- Honey For Weight Loss Explained
- Honey For Antioxidant Benefits Explained
- Does Honey Help With Sleep?
- Can Honey Improve Allergies?
- Honey: The Natural Cough Syrup
- Honey For Diabetes Explained
- Raw Honey vs. Processed Honey
- Organic Honey vs. Regular Honey
- Honey For Healthier Skin Explained
- Honey For Healthier Hair Explained
Honey! We all know it and we all love it. But besides having a sweet taste that we tend to enjoy with teas, sweet treats, fruits, breakfasts and even savoury dishes, honey also has a tremendous amount of healing benefits.
It’s one of the oldest natural products that’s been used by man and is popular all around the world for its immense health benefits as well as its delicious taste.
In fact, the use of honey by humans is as old as history itself and cave paintings found in Valencia dating back to around 8000 years ago illustrate primitive people harvesting honey from a hive.
Farming honey is also very beneficial to the environment, so it’s a lot better for you and the earth than many of the artificial sweeteners and processed foods that we eat so often nowadays.
But what exactly can honey be used to treat and what is the best way to utilize it? I’ll be diving into this in the article and try to give you a few tips and interesting facts about this amazingly delicious, all-natural treat and medicine.
How Is Honey Made?
As many of know, honey is made by bees – nature’s little workers. The genus of bees known for creating honey are known as Apis and they’re the most popular source of commercially produced honey in the world today. Their honey is known to be the sweetest and have the most health benefits – hence it’s popularity among honey eaters.
There are a lot of factors that can determine the taste and texture of honey like available plants ready for pollination and the genus of bee. This is why locally farmed honey will change in both flavour and texture depending on the geographical location of the farm.
But how is honey physically made? Firstly, worker bees leave the hive and fly off to land on flowers that are loaded with pollen and floral nectar. The bees collect this pollen and nectar in little ‘buckets’ attached to their legs which they then bring back to the hive. However, the honey is only made from nectar – the pollen is just a natural variable in the equation.
The bees then regurgitate enzymes onto the pollen which help to break it down into a more liquid state. Through the process of water evaporation, the liquid becomes more viscous in nature and it is then stored in wax cells where it can last for an indefinite amount of time.
Much like us, the bees eat the honey as a source of food during the winter times – as harvest is usually done during spring and in periods of summer.
Recently, scientists have said that we should be careful to limit the amount of honey we consume on a monthly basis as the ecological effects of eating too much honey may cause bees to die out (which is happening at more of a rapid rate these days). As Einstein warned a long time ago, when the humble bee goes extinct – our time is very limited.
Honey For Weight Loss Explained
Losing weight can be a challenge for any of us who try and it’s important to remember that it’s a process that takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s also important to remember that losing weight does not necessarily have to mean starving yourself – it’s really more a matter of making sure that you eat the right food at the right time and ensure that you get enough exercise on a regular basis.
But everyone is different and each diet has it’s own unique requirements, so it’s best to take it step by step and day by day. That being said, honey is amazing for weight watchers and can be added to any diet to help boost energy levels and suppress those hunger pangs.
Studies have shown that eating honey on a regular basis can help to lower triglycerides in our system which ultimately speed up our metabolic processes and help shed weight. Triglycerides are essentially a type of fat that occur in our blood after we eat carbohydrates and fatty foods.
These are usually burned off in between meals but if our calorie intake is higher than the amount we’re burning, our body stops using triglycerides and we start gaining weight. Another study showed that women who added a tablespoon of honey to their breakfast meal had reduced hunger cravings over the course of the day and were able to suppress their appetites for longer.
Given that you exercise enough and count those calories – you should be looking fitter and healthier in almost no time at all. Here’s to achieving that body you’ve always wanted!
Honey For Antioxidant Benefits Explained
When it comes to keeping our bodies healthy and in check, nothing is more important than getting enough antioxidants into your system at all times. Antioxidants are important for preventing free-radical damage to vital tissues and organs as free radicals are essentially oxygenated molecules that are missing an electron and ultimately try to ‘steal’ an electron from suitable compounds.
This starts a chain-reaction like effect as each compound that loses an electron then goes on to find another electron from another compound or molecule and so on and so forth. Honey is rich in an antioxidant known as polyphenol.
Polyphenol is particularly good at entrapping free radicals, thus making it easier for your body to flush them out before they cause any damage or cell degeneration.
Honey also contains another variety of antioxidants known as flavonoids, more specifically pinocembrin, pinostrobin and chrysin. These have actively been seen to induce a state known as apoptosis in certain cancer cells, which basically means that the cells kill themselves over time.
Due to this, more research is being done into the use of raw honey as a possible treatment or prevention for certain forms of cancer. If you really want to maximise the healing benefits of honey in this regard, try and use around 4 teaspoons a day, preferably in tea or as part of a breakfast meal like oats or muesli etc.
Does Honey Help With Sleep?
Sleep is something that I think people leave out far too often when assessing their lifestyle or health and studies have shown that getting too little sleep on a regular basis has compounded damage on your body and can put you at risk of developing diseases or ailments such as hypertension, type II diabetes, obesity, general heart disease and even strokes.
So if you’re struggling to sleep at night – don’t run off to the chemist to get a tranquilizer (those are incredibly addictive and can really have negative effects on your health in the long-term), rather grab some honey from the pantry and make yourself a nice warm cup of tea or simply eat a teaspoon of the stuff.
Firstly, by eating a little honey before we go to sleep, we can actively increase the amount of glycogen in our bodies which means we won’t be prompted to wake up in the middle of the night to go get a snack. But beyond that, honey does something quite amazing.
When we eat honey before going to sleep, it creates a small spike in our insulin levels. The insulin is then converted into tryptophan which is a mood-altering essential amino acid that helps to induce sleep.
While we sleep, our bodies are able to heal themselves and balance out hormone levels, allowing us to be ready and prepared for the day ahead. Nothing feels better than waking up comfortably after a good night’s rest, so be sure to get your sleep and use honey instead of tranquillizers if you’re struggling. You’ll be grateful for making the holistic choice later – trust me.
Can Honey Improve Allergies?
Eating locally farmed honey has long been known as a natural way to help curb your body’s sensitivities to certain pollen-based allergies. This is due to a process in our body known as immunotherapy and very similar in principle to the way in which vaccinations work.
Because the bees collect honey from various different species of plants around the area, when you eat the honey, you’re essentially dosing your system with a small amount of each of these plants’ pollen.
Over time as you eat more honey, your body learns to build up more of an immunity to these allergies and you become less sensitive to allergic reactions. But this can take some time – so it might be handy keeping some antihistamines on hand while you build up your immunity.
Honey: The Natural Cough Syrup
I’m quite sure we all know the feeling of a sore throat and nothing is more annoying than not being able to speak properly or feeling pain every time you swallow something. We tend to get sore throats most commonly around the winter times when our bodies are most susceptible to infection – but how can we use honey to treat a sore throat or throat infection?
Well, the answer couldn’t be anymore simple. Honey is known to be as effective as over-the-counter cough medicines and is a lot healthier for your body overall as well. The rich antioxidants and vitamin content found in honey helps to clear out toxins, suppress mucous secretion and ease a cough. As little as one or two teaspoons before bedtime can work wonders on a sore throat and provide fast-acting relief as well as a speedy recovery.
So why not help yourself to a sweet treat and heal your sore throat at the same time! “Taking your medicine” has never been easier and tastier.
Honey For Diabetes Explained
The healing benefits of honey for diabetes go much further than many have long thought possible and unlike many natural products, honey does not interfere with any medication that we may be taking to try and treat our diabetes with at the time.
In fact, studies have shown that honey with a combination of cinnamon can actually aid certain forms of diabetes medication, making them more effective at treating the illness overall.
This is due to the fact that when honey is combined with cinnamon, it becomes a low-glycemic index food, which basically means that once it’s consumed, it can lower the blood-sugar levels in your body.
By raising insulin levels and lowering hyperglycemia, you can actively manage your diabetes more effectively over time. So be sure to add both raw honey and cinnamon to your diet if you’re trying to cope with diabetes and be sure to monitor your blood levels closely to see how your body reacts.
— CNN (@CNN) November 25, 2017
Raw Honey vs. Processed Honey
Technically, there is no real definition for ‘raw honey’ as of yet, which means that it’s quite easy for many brands to simply slap the words on their label and hope that consumers will buy it believing that it actually is raw honey.
Based on what I understand of the term ‘raw honey’, it refers to honey that has not been heated or filtered to remove the tiny particles of leftover pollen that may remain from the hive. It is essentially honey that is directly packaged straight from the hive.
Many claim that these tiny bits of pollen have tremendous health benefits that could make the honey a little healthier.
However, I’m not sure exactly how much of a difference they really make and think that most brands of honey will still have similar health benefits.
Although, sourcing honey straight from the hive does sound like an ideal solution, you’ll have to do your research when it comes to finding a brand that’s truly unprocessed. I’ve taken to liking the brand Honest Raw Honey simply because that’s what it is.
Organic Honey vs. Regular Honey
So in order to understand the difference between these two forms of honey, we actually have to compare 3 different forms of honey – which are all basically the same honey, just processed in three different ways.
- Regular crops/fields/ forests which may have been sprayed with pesticides or had synthetically fertilized lands
- Bees’ treated with antibiotics (such as Ciprofloxacin) and winter nourishment with sugar, or low-cost syrup (cane, corn, beet, rice, tapioca or fruit syrup to name a few)
- Hives made of non-organic materials, which may have pests, mice, spiders and will be cleaned with non-organic substances
- The extracted honey is pasteurized and filtered which implies heating at high temperatures. This destroys enzymes and increases the potential level of toxins in the final product
- Contains additives
Raw Organic Honey
This is essentially crude honey immediately taken out of the combs’ cells. It is not pure, it may contain rough particles of pollen, dead bees, legs, wings, hunks of wax and other impurities. This is why it is often strained through a fine mesh as the only form of processing it requires – simply to remove these more ‘immediate’ impurities. In order to be classified as an organic honey farm, the following prerequisites are required:
- Respect to organic farming procedures (as per the regulations of the specific state or country)
- Not be heated above 95 degrees F / 35 degrees C (if extraction implies heating), the normal temperatures of the beehive
- Be strained (to remove larger particles) – if desired
- Not be filtered or ultra filtrated (as this also implies overheating)
- Cannot be pasteurized
- Cannot have any artificial substances or additives.
- Be stored in organic containers (light brown/amber glass jars)
This usually means raw organic honey, as heating is not allowed here as well, not above maximum 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35 degrees Celsius. To be organic, honey must:
- Follow good organic management, according to each country’s set of standards and conditions
- Processing should only be done by the means of gravitational settling and straining.
In short, organic honey and raw organic honey are basically the same thing, the assumed differences are just the result of marketing terms and general confusion. There is either organic honey (whether raw or not) or regular honey – that’s it.
Honey for Healthier Skin Explained
Cleopatra is easily one of the most famous beauties in history and her rule as Queen of the Nile has long inspired romantic images and stories that have captured the hearts and minds of people for centuries. But what were her beauty secrets and how did she achieve such history defining beauty in a time before science? The answer is simple – natural is always better and one thing Cleopatra was famed for using was raw natural honey. By the bath load!
Honey is known as a potent natural antibacterial agent which can help to remove germs and bacteria on the surface of our skin that lead to breakouts and the spread of acne. By blending a teaspoon of honey with half a teaspoon of cinnamon in your palm and gently rubbing it onto your skin, you can create a natural face mask.
This helps to reduce inflammation on the surface of the skin and can lock moisture in whilst helping to hydrate and nourish your skin with a rich vitamin and mineral complex that can rarely be found in conventional products at a similar price as raw honey.
Be sure to leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes and rinse it off with lukewarm water once the time has elapsed. This will also help to remove dirt from your pores and get rid of excess sebum oil that winds up getting trapped in your pores and so the cycle of bad skin continues.
However, honey doesn’t only have to be used on your face. In fact, it has been used for centuries throughout history to help treat wounds and aid the recovery of ulcers and internal sores. By blending a teaspoon of honey with 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil you can essentially create a pretty potent natural antibacterial remedy that can help to prevent the onset of infection and speed up the healing process.
This is definitely my go to when I’ve got a scratch or a minor cut and love how beneficial the mixture is for my skin and health in general, unlike many conventional, chemical-based antibacterial tinctures or disinfectants.
Honey for Healthier Hair Explained
Honey is easily one of the best natural products you can use for your hair as it’s incredibly effective at hydrating, nourishing and treating a wide variety of hair types naturally and efficiently – a rare combination.
Firstly, it’s important to note that honey is known as a natural humectant which means that it absorbs the moisture from the air around it and locks it into your hair follicles, ensuring that they’re stronger, softer and healthier over the course of the day. It also creates a thin layer around the hair over time (with consistent use) that helps to prevent damage from the elements as well as the onset of free radical damage.
Honey is also great for those who want a lighter shade of hair (or a few minor highlights) but don’t want to put too much stress on their hair by using harmful chemical dyes or large amounts of hydrogen peroxide. Honey contains a natural enzyme known as glucose oxidase. Once applied to your hair, this enzyme slowly secrets small amounts of hydrogen peroxide.
This helps to lighten your hair naturally and gently over time, giving you a lighter shade of hair in the areas where it’s applied without the often unnatural shade that your hair turns after a DIY peroxide treatment. Definitely ideal for those light, bright summer locks!
The strong antibacterial and antifungal qualities that honey possesses also helps to keep the hair free of germs and bacteria that may lead to inflammation or infection. These are generally considered to be the main causes of issues like dandruff. So by eliminating the root cause of the issue, you can treat dandruff and scalp infections in their entirety and prevent them from returning with continued use.
The best way to implement honey in your hair care routine is also the easiest – thankfully! Simply blend 5 teaspoons of raw honey with 3-4 drops of eucalyptus or lavender essential oil. Stir this mixture together until it becomes light and ‘runny’.
Then simply add it to your favourite bottle of natural shampoo and wash as per usual. You can also prevent the onset of hair loss by washing with this mixture 2-3 times a week and it’s never too early to start worrying about hair loss?
If you haven’t already heard about the amazing health benefits of honey, then this is your wake up call!
Why keep throwing money down the drain on costly medications, tranquilizers, skin and hair care products that don’t work or come with a long list of side-effects which have an ultimately negative effect on your health?
When you spell it out logically – it simply doesn’t make any sense. So why not do your bit to help the bees and save the environment by buying raw organic honey for your skin, hair and general health needs?
The natural option is almost always the ideal choice when it comes to health care and personal care and you’d be fooling yourself if you think a conventional product can do more than this highly refined natural wonder product.