The Health Benefits of Honey - By Rebecca Marshall
Updated: Jun 21, 2018
“ My Son, eat thou honey, for it is good” - King Solomon - Proverbs 24:13
This was written approximately between 686 - 715 BC. Meaning even over 2000 years ago, honey was seen as a beautiful good thing for the body. The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks even documented that honey had healing properties as early as 384 BC when Aristotle wrote about it.
Honey is one of the oldest ‘sweet treats’ known to man - a bit of natural goodness, solely created by honey bees for us to enjoy, and reap the many good properties it naturally has.
Honey contains ‘simple sugars’ (AHHHH THE ’S’ WORD!) But it is not the same as your shop bought white refined sugars or artificial sweeteners. It is a 100% natural product, and its exact combination of glucose and fructose has actually been known to help the human body regulate blood sugar levels healthily. Some honey even has a low hypoglycaemic index so it doesn't shoot your blood sugar levels up or down.
An average tablespoon of honey has 64 calories in, has zero cholesterol and zero fat. It is naturally made up of vitamins, amino acids, minerals such as calcium, trace enzymes, potassium, magnesium and phosphate.
Have you heard of Phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are compounds found within plants that help shield and protect the plant from harm such as harsh UV radiation and harmful insects. Honey is made from nectar which is a substance produced from plants, so it therefore is full of these Phytonutrients!
Phytonutrients are a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant - which help maintain a strong immune system and good health. Regular consumption of good quality - unprocessed honey has great benefits for the immune system because of these, and honey has enzymes in it which have antibacterial properties also. In the fast paced world we now live in, with every pill and tablet going being marketed to help aid ‘stress levels, anxiety and sleep deprivation’, having a natural substance to hand to help boost our immune system is literally a god send!
These beneficial and ever so valuable nutrients are unique only in honey that hasn't been heavily processed or heated - as processing can damage all these vital natural awesome properties.
Ancient Olympic athletes used to eat dried figs and honey to ‘enhance’ their performance during training and on event days. Modern studies have now been done and this has been verified showing that honey and figs have come up more superior in maintaining the bodies glycogen levels and can also help improve recovery time better than other sweeteners on the market!
We all know that before doing a high intensity work out, the ‘fuel’ we put in our body before, during and after is vital.Honey is high in natural carbohydrates and the glucose and fructose hit the bloodstream quickly once ingested. Its a perfect natural energy booster and in my own personal experiences - when I’ve been in running events, I swear by natural fuels instead of the artificial gels and drinks you get which seem to send you high before you then come crashing down. I have written my go to ‘race energy boosters’ below - one is a drink - the other is pocket power balls!
Energy booster Drink - Iskiate
If you haven't read the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall - It is a fascinating read about Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians. They are the worlds greatest distance runners who can run for hundreds of miles (without rest) while enjoying every minute and just drinking this below home made natural energy drink!
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 cups water
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp good quality honey
Lucozade and Monster need to take a back seat here as I swear by this drink and have got my PB’S in races when i’ve consumed it. You simply mix all the ingredients together into a sports drink bottle (or any bottle) then leave it the fridge for 2 hours. Drink half before your race and half during.
Honey is helpful for burns and scrapes to the skin and external application has been shown to be as effective as some creams and gels! It is hugely popular in Asian natural medicine, and it is speculated that the drying effect of the honey and its anti - bacterial nature combine to create this ‘healing’ effect on damaged skin.
Antioxidants are known for being great at feeding the cells of your brain - just what the brain needs so it can thrive! Consuming foods which have natural antioxidants in is literally a no-brainer (see what I did there?) as they can help give our memory a boost and keep us thinking sharp! Honey is also beneficial for our noggin’ as it aids the brain to absorb calcium. Looking after your head is so important as it can help ward off dementia further down the line, it doesn't do any damage…so why not try it?
The question a lot of people ask…
Can honey help my hay fever?
The answer is yes, it might - but it also might not!
The human body is complex and everyone reacts differently. I have had beautiful gifts and cards sent from people saying ‘your honey has healed my hay fever! I used to have to have injections every summer for it but now I don’t!” , I also have clients who buy it every summer as they are certain it helps and then others where it has had no effect at all.
The key elements to if you want the best chance of beating hay fever with honey are -
1.) Only use a local honey to where you live / work. There is no evidence that off the shelf honey can help hay fever issues, You need one that has the local pollens in of your environment.
2.) You have to start taking1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon daily right at the start of spring before all the flowers are out. (In the UK it is recommend to start in march to reap the hopeful benefits)
How it works is that you are ingesting small doses of the honeys pollen and your body will then produce antibodies that will fight off that pollen, which means over time your body will build up a defence against the allergy. Your immune system is basically getting little hints of the pollen which you are allergic to and goes into ‘attack mode’. Due to it only being a small amount of pollen, your immune system attacks and kills it effectively whilst building up an immunity at the same time.
Honey is such a fascinating, incredible, natural product dished out to us by nature - as proof that we don’t always need to fill our bodies with ‘man made substances’, because there are natural ones around us that are just as good. It isn't just a super food source, it is a gift of mother nature to add nutrition and wellness to your life.