The Waswahili like to say Fuata nyuki ule asali which translates to “follow the bee to obtain the honey.” Metaphorically, the saying means that if you want to progress, you should associate yourself with greatness. This depicts honey as a treasured, valuable and beneficial product, and for a good reason.
According to The Nibble, the oldest written reference to honey dates back to the Egyptians in 5500 B.C.E., and references to honey abound in antiquity. But honeybees are far older than man’s historical record, written or otherwise. For years, the substance has been used for the hair and skin, nutritional benefits, healing wounds and its antibacterial action. The capsule report says that only relatively recently in man’s history (mid-19th century) did sugar become affordable to the average person. Before then, it was a very expensive luxury imported from long distances and enjoyed by the wealthy. Honeybees, native to Asia, were brought to the New World by colonists in 1622.
Here are the health benefits of honey.
- Antioxidant properties
This is one of the main benefits of honey. It contains antioxidant properties such as phytochemicals, flavonoids, and ascorbic acid. Antioxidants help to defend your cells from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. The accumulation of free radicals leads to a condition known as oxidative stress which can increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Fortunately, honey is among the foods that contain antioxidant properties and therefore help to reduce this risk. Because of these antioxidant properties, in the long run, honey boosts the immune system of the individual.
Some people believe that processed honey has fewer antioxidant properties, and perhaps that’s why you might want to opt for raw honey to reap the full benefits. Studies show that in the process of pasteurization where heating the honey is involved, it loses some of these antioxidants.
- Antibacterial action
Honey prevents the growth of bacteria. By doing so it can kill harmful bacteria and fungi. It contains an enzyme called glucose oxidase that triggers the production of hydrogen peroxide. This chemical, naturally occurring in some food substances in low content, has been termed as the body’s best defence system. The formation of hydrogen peroxide in cells is an attempt by the body to protect itself from an even more dangerous substance, superoxide which leads to cell damage. Honey is useful in preventing the buildup of superoxide dismutase. It also has a low pH level which does not allow bad bacteria to survive in it.
Because of this property, the substance has been used to treat wounds. Raw natural honey is even infused in some bandages. It reacts with the fluids in the body to create hydrogen peroxide which can prevent the growth and activities of microbes.
- Heals heartburn and acid reflux
Acid reflux can be very uncomfortable. It happens when stomach acid or bile flows back up into the food pipe. This irritates the lining of the oesophagus leading to a burning pain in the chest. Honey is considered to be acidic outside of the body, before ingestion and digestion. However, once metabolized it is alkaline. This would mean that it can neutralize the acid that is flowing back up, and therefore relieve some of the symptoms of acid reflux. But it goes beyond that.
A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research states that reflux may be caused in part by free radicals that damage cells lining the digestive tract. Honey prevents damage by removing these free radicals. On top of that, it reduces the inflammation in the oesophagus. Its texture allows it to better coat the mucous membrane of the oesophagus, which can contribute to longer-lasting relief.
- Honey can help to lower cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the body. Its function is to help build healthy cells. However, a high level of cholesterol leads to heart disease, stroke and blood pressure issues. High cholesterol leads to the accumulation of fatty deposits in the blood vessels, which interferes with the flow of blood. Studies have now proven that honey reduces total and “bad” LDL cholesterol while significantly raising “good” HDL cholesterol.
- Aids sleep
Honey is used to treat insomnia and other sleep-related problems. It has the ability to aid in sleep. It is recommended that people battling with insomnia take a tablespoon of honey before going to bed. How does this work? Honey restocks the liver with the glycogen which aids in sleep.
Brain metabolism is higher in wake than in sleep and therefore glycogen stores are depleted during wake and replenished during sleep. Honey prevents the brain from searching for fuel at night and this is what causes sleeplessness. It also triggers the production of tryptophan which increases both serotonin and melatonin which influence the sleep cycle of the body.
- Improving the quality of your skin
On top of all this, honey is useful in improving the skin and reducing instances of inflammation, as well as the extent of honey. Honey opens up your skin pores to cleanse them and get rid of blackheads. Its antioxidants, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties allow it to help you fight acne by keeping your pores free of oily dirt while at the same time keeping them hydrated and tight to give your clearer complexion.
An article on Healthline states that raw honey balances the bacteria on the skin. Research shows that it is effective in killing pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Keeping the skin bacteria-free speeds up the healing process. It can also help with skin problems such as dandruff and psoriasis.
Honey can be used as a cleanser, by massaging it on your skin, leaving it for a few minutes and then rinsing it out. It can also be used as a mask and left on the skin for about 30 minutes. Lastly, it can be used as a spot treatment to get rid of blackheads using its antibacterial magic. How To Get Rid Of Blackheads
On top of all this, honey is good for the hair. It has the ability to promote hair growth. A study showed that it promotes the growth of epithelial cells. The scalp is full of epithelial cells that make up the many follicles and ducts so important for hair growth.
Honey has both emollient and humectant properties, making it a great hair moisturizer. It also restores shine, reduces frizz and softens hair. To use honey on the hair, you can opt to make a hair mask. This is done by combining honey with a desired natural oil then spreading it across the length of the hair and on the scalp. Once done, you cover your hair with a shower cap and let it sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse it out thoroughly. That way your hair absorbs the product and you can reap the benefits.
- Energy booster
According to Wealth result, honey is said to be made up of 80% natural sugar, 18% water and 2% of vitamins, proteins, pollens and minerals. It releases glycogen to the body when ingested and this form of energy is easily absorbed by the body. It is a great natural source of carbohydrates which provide strength and energy to our bodies.
The glucose in honey is absorbed by the body quickly and gives an immediate energy boost, while the fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy. On top of all this, it has been found to keep levels of blood sugar fairly constant compared to other types of sugar. This helps deal with type II diabetes.