The common themes to the secret of anti-aging seem to be the most basic rules and concepts humans have used for hundreds if not thousands of years. Humans have often looked at the nature surrounding us to come up with ways to treat many physical downfalls and health ailments related to aging. What time has taught us is that these ‘things’ that have been on earth for thousands of years may be more beneficial than artificial fixes we have produced. Nature’s natural and first sweetener, honey is one great example of this.
Honey has been on earth well since as long as bees have existed. Honey dates back to 2100 B.C. where it was mentioned in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings, the Hittite code and the sacred writings of India and Egypt. But it is thought to be even older than that. In 1600 A.D. the conquering Spaniards found native Mexicans and Central Americans had already developed beekeeping methods to produce honey (Filippine, 2013). In ancient Egypt, honey was used to sweeten cakes, biscuits, as well as, being used in many other dishes. Ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern people also used honey for embalming the dead (Gonick, 1990).
In brief, honey is made when bees feast on flowers collecting the flower’s nectar; this nectar mixes with enzymes in the bee’s saliva which produces honey. The bee then takes the honey and deposits it back into beehive’s wall. So as long as bees have been in existence so has honey.
What are some of benefits of honey with regards to health, aging and high quality of life?
1.Acts as an antibacterial/antibiotic/antifungal
Using raw honey as an example, it contains small amounts of the same resins found in propolis. Propolis, sometimes called “bee glue,” is actually a complex mixture of resins and other substances that honeybees use to seal the hive and make it safe from bacteria and other micro-organisms. Honeybees make propolis by mixing plant resins with their own secretions. However, substances like road tar have also been found in propolis. Bee keepers sometimes use special screens around the inside of the hive boxes to trap propolis, since bees will spread this substance around the honeycomb and seal cracks with the anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal resins (World’s Healthiest Foods, 2013).
Honey may stop the growth of food borne pathogens such as e-coli and salmonella as well as fights certain bacteria like staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosa. As we can conclude if we prevent illness or minimize infection we improve our overall health, and decrease the unwanted aging effects caused by illness.
As we know free radicals and reactive oxygen radicals have been implicated in contributing to the processes of aging and disease. We can combat this and get protection from this by absorbing the antioxidants from foods high in antioxidants. Researchers say honey contains varying concentrations of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
A recent study involved 25 participants who were fed about 4 tablespoons of buckwheat honey per day for 29 days in addition to their regular diets. Two types of honey containing different amounts of polyphenols were tested. Blood samples taken at the beginning and end of the study showed a direct link between honey consumption and levels of disease-fighting polyphenols. The more polyphenol-containing honey they ate, the higher the levels of antioxidants were in their blood.
3.Helps with blood sugar control
Refined sugars can lead to high triglycerides which can lead to heart disease as well as increase risk of developing insulin resistance and lead to diabetes. Heart disease and diabetes are chronic diseases that have tremendous negative effects on the human body and lead to poor quality of life and speeding aging.
Even though honey contains simple sugars, it is not the same as refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. Its exact combination of fructose and glucose actually helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. Some honeys have a low hypoglycemic index, so they don’t jolt your blood sugar.
4.Enhances Athlete performance
Recently, a group of researchers investigated the use of honey as an ergogenic aid in athletes. The study involved a group of 39 weight-trained athletes, both male and female. Subjects underwent an intensive weight-lifting workout and then immediately consumed a protein supplement blended with sugar, maltodextrin or honey as the carbohydrate source. The honey group maintained optimal blood sugar levels throughout the two hours following the workout. In addition, muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration (carbohydrates stored in muscle) was favorable in those individuals consuming the honey-protein combination.
Since honey is still high in calories eating a whole jar is not recommended as high sugar and high calories is not a balanced diet and can lead to weight gain. However, consuming up to 1 tablespoon a day will help to sweeten your health. You can add honey to teas, sweeten cereals, oatmeal, smoothies, use as marinade for chicken and pork, or make salad dressings.
You can substitute sugar in baking recipes for honey to get the additional health benefits. In order to substitute honey for sugar in recipes, substitute honey for equal amounts of sugar in many liquid recipes. In baked goods, substitute sugar for up to half the amount with honey and make the following adjustments: Reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup and for each cup of honey used add 1/2 tsp. baking soda for each cup of honey used. Also reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, because honey will brown baking goods more than sugar (Manuka Honey USA, 2013).
Did you know?
-the darker the honey the higher the anti-oxidant content
-The average worker bee will make only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey during its lifetime
-Unlike table sugar, honey contains several vitamins (vitamin B6, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid), minerals (calcium, copper, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium and zinc) and amino acids
-Not recommended for children under the age of 1 due to high risk of botulism. Signs of botulism in infants are neck, arm, or leg weakness, inability to suck or cry normally, unable to feed or swallow properly, irritability and persistent constipation and may also experience trouble with breathing.
-In Hinduism, honey is one of the five elixirs of immortality
Remember the healthier you are the younger you’ll be 🙂
Gonick, L (1990). The Cartoon History of the Universe Vol.2
Filippine, P (2013) Honey History: Honey is as old as written history. About.com