HONEY’S NUTRITIONAL PROFILE
Honey contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. The vitamins found in honey include niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid; minerals present include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. In addition honey contains a variety of flavonoids and phenolic acids which act as antioxidants, scavenging and eliminating free radicals.
University of Illinois food scientists have discovered that honey packs the same antioxidant punch as spinach and strawberries. “And that means substituting honey for sugar and other sweeteners is a delicious way to give yourself some fantastic health benefits,” declares lead researcher Nicki Engeseth, Ph.D. Studies revealed that eating 2 – 4 Tbs. of honey daily can raise antioxidant levels in your bloodstream by almost 10%. How does this help your health? “The antioxidants stop cholesterol from sticking to blood vessel walls,” explains Engeseth. “And that’s essential for preventing the buildup of artery-clogging plaque.” Other research shows the antioxidants may help your liver flush up to 84 percent of artery-clogging fats out of your system, enough to slash your heart attack and stroke risk by 20%.
Honey stored in sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries. Interestingly, honey discovered in clay pots in the tombs of the Pharaohs was found to still be stable.
HONEY AND YOUR HEALTH
Clinical studies have shown that honey enhances the growth of healthful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. The effect of honey was similiar to that of commercial FOS, GOS and inulin. Sweeteners other than honey did not appear to have an effect on stimulating bifidobacteria growth.
1. Honey can enhance the growth of acid production of human Bifidobacterium ss. Journal of Food Protection. 2002; 65(1); 214-8
2. Honey enhances the production of lactic acid from Bifidobacteria, Journal of Food Science, 2001;66(3): 478-481
Doctors have used raw honey to treat seasonal allergies since it contains the pollen that causes 90% of the allergies in the first place. By eating a teaspoon daily the patient builds up an immunity. Dr. William Peterson, The Bee Hive Bible pp. 127-130
HONEY AIDS IN ABSORPTION OF CALCIUM
A new study conducted at Purdue University showed that consuming honey along with supplemental calcium enhanced calcium absorption in rats. In addition, the absorption of calcium was increased as the amount of honey was increased. The study, led by Dr. Berdine Martin, was presented at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology meeting, April 2-5, 2005 in San Diego, CA.
One of the key strategies for reducing the likelihood of developing low bone mass (and subsequent osteoporosis) is to consume the recommended amounts of calcium. It is also important that the calcium consumed be absorbed by the body. Dietary factors that have been shown to enhance the absorption of calcium include vitamin D and the sugars found in honey.
SPEED HEALING WITH HONEY
The use of honey as a wound dressing goes back to ancient times and has now been “rediscovered’ by modern medicine, according to Dr. Peter Molan of the University of Waikato, New Zealand. The antibacterial properties of honey may help clear infection in wounds, and the anti-inflammatory action of honey may reduce pain and may improve circulation which hastens the healing process. According to Dr. Molan, “Honey stimulated the re-growth of tissue involved in healing, making healing faster and reducing scarring”. The credit goes to honey’s rich supply of natural antibiotics and enzymes.
In one study 87% of patients with honey coated burns healed completely within two weeks, compared to just 10% of those treated with a standard Rx, silver sulfadiazine. Follow up research showed the honey destroyed 100% of the bacteria that cause infections.
1. Honey in the Treatment of Wounds and Burns, American Journal of Dermatology, 2001,Vol. 2 No. 1, pp.13-19
2. Honey is Effective in the Treatment of Post Surgical Wounds, Acta Paedatr. 1998 Apr; 87(4); 429-32
3. Honey’s Ability To Stimulate Inflammatory Cytokine Production From Monocytes May Help Explain Its Wound Healing Capacity, Cytokine. 2003 Mar 7; 21
HONEY AND ORAL HEALTH
Honey is known to possess a variety of antioxidants and antibacterial substances that have been shown to inhibit growth of a wide range of bacteria and fungi. The antimicrobial properties of honey may render it beneficial in the treatment of various oral ailments including periodontal disease and mouth ulcers.
1. Select Honeys Demonstrate Antimicrobial Activity Against Oral Pathogens, Journal of Dental Research, 2002; 80:349
2. Manuka Honey May Aid in the Treatment of Gingivitis, Journal of The International Academy of Periodentology. 2004 Apr; 6 920;63-7
3. The Potential of Honey To Promote Oral Wellness, General Dentistry, 2001, vol.49, No. 6, ppp.584-589.
GIVE YOURSELF AN ENERGY ADVANTAGE
Feeling tired? Then make a beeline for honey. Researchers have found that eating 1 – 2 Tbs. of honey helps people exercise harder and longer–and keeps them from feeling sluggish afterward. In fact, “honey not only prevents fatigue during exercise, it helps you to stay energized for up to 2 hours afterward.” Say Richard Kreider, Ph.D., head of exercise and sports nutrition at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
HINT: A Teaspoon of honey in your water bottle is a great substitute for sports drinks.
HONEY IN BEAUTY/PERSONAL CARE
Honey has been used in beauty regimens since the time of Cleopatra and is just as popular today. It’s easy to see why. Honey is a natural humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture. It is also an anti-irritant, making it suitable for sensitive-skin and baby products. Honey has no additives or preservatives one of the few products that can be packed and sold straight from nature. It requires no processing or refining. Honey can be used as a facial moisturizer, body scrub, hair conditioner or just add it to your bath water.
BEEKEEPING’S BENEFIT TO AGRICULTURE
Millions of acres of U.S. crops depend on insect pollination. An estimated 80% is accomplished by honeybees. Numerous crops are 90% dependant on honey bee pollination. Some of these include apples, cherries, avocados, blueberries, cranberries, melons, cucumbers and sunflowers. About one-third of our diet is derived from insect pollinated plants.
The almond crop is entirely dependent on honeybee pollination–without honeybees there would be no almonds. California is responsible for more than half of the worlds production of almonds.
A Cornell University study determined that honeybee pollination is a major benefit to the price and supply of food for the United States. The 1999 study concluded that the direct value of the honeybee population annually to U.S. agriculture is $14.6 billion dollars.
EFFECT ON PROSTAGLANDIN LEVELS IN THE BODY
A study conducted on 12 normal, healthy individuals who were asked to fast and then drink honey diluted in water were given blood tests to measure plasma prostaglandin concentrations. At day 15, plasma concentrations of thromboxane B2, PGE2, and PGF2a were decreased by 48%, 63% and 50% respectively. It may be concluded that honey can lower the concentrations of prostaglandins in plasma of normal individuals.
Prostaglandins, in the human system, are potent mediators of a variety of strong physiological effects. They are technically hormones, although are rarely classified as such. The are thought of as mediators of inflammation in the body. Both prostaglandins and thromboxanes have been implicated in immune suppression and atherosclerosis. This study demonstrates that honey may lower prostaglandin levels in normal individuals. The the degree that honey lowers prostaglandin levels, it may be considered to have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
Al-Waili, Noori S, M.D, PhD; and Boni, Nader S, M.Sc; “Natural Honey Lowers Plasma Prostaglandin Concentrations in Noraml Individuals”, Journal of Medicinal Food, 2003; 6 (2): 129-33
HONEY PROTECTS AGAINST THE HYPERTRIGLYCERIDEMIC EFFECT OF FRUCTOSE
An animal study was conducted where one group of rats was fed a diet containing 65g/100g carbohydrates as wheat starch or a combination of fructose and glucose. While a second group was fed a honey-based diet prepared by substituting honey for refined carbohydrates. The same amount of fructose was provided by the honey and fructose diets. The hypertriglyceridemic effect of fructose was not observed when fructose was provided by honey. This study demolishes the notion that because honey contains fructose, it must etherefore express the pro-oxidative effect and result in elevated circulating triglyceride levels ad know to occur e=with a diet hight in fructose (as in high fructose corn syrup or HFCS). The honey fed animals showed lover levels of triglycerides and lowered pro-oxidant effects than those fed starch of HFCS.
Busserolles, Jerome; Gueux, Elyett; Rock, Edmond; Mazur, Andrezej and Rayssiguier, Yves; “Substituting Honey for Refined Carbohydrates Protects Rats from Hypertriglyceridemic and Prooxidative Effects of Fructose”, American Society of Nutritional Sciences Journal of Nutrition 132:3370-3382 Nov 2002.
DIMINISH THE RISK FOR DIABETES
Men reporting short sleep duration (5 to 6 hours per night) were twice as likely to develop diabetes, and men reporting long sleep duration (greater than 8 hours per night) were more than three times as likely to develop diabetes. This observational study points up the relationship between both short and long sleep to diabetes. Within the context of liver glycogen plentitude during the night fast, we have an explanation as to why more than 8 hours of sleep, with increased release of adrenal stress hormones, contributes to an increased risk of diabetes. Liver glycogen depletion during long rest periods contributes to the release of those hormones and produces the associated detrimental effects. The adrenal hormone cortisol is the main hormone produced by the body that contributes to the development of insulin resistance and type 11 diabetes. Replenishing the liver with honey prior to bed may reduce the release of these adrenal stress hormones overnight and thus diminish the risk for insulin resistance and type 11 diabetes.
H. Klar Yaggi, MD, MPH, Andre B. Araujo, PHD and John B. Mckinlay, PHD, “Sleep Duration as a Risk Factor for the Development of Type 2 Keabetes”, Diabetes Care 29:657-661, 2006
Joseph Bass, MD, PhD and Fred W. Turek, MD, “Sleepless in America, A Pathway to Obesity and the Metabolic Syndorme, Archives Of Internal Medicine, Vol. 165, January 10, 2005
HONEY PROTECTS AGAINST HOMOCYSTEINE ELEVATION
Elevated levels of homocysteine (Hcy), an amino acid, are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. This particular animal study demonstrates that natural honey has a significant lowering effect on homocysteine. The sudy results indicated that honey in only a 1% solution fed to rats improved growth, and provide protection against elevated homocyseine levels. This is another stunning example of honey metabolism and its physiologic effects not available via the consumption of other refined sugars such as sucrose and high fructose corn syrup.
El-Saleh, Saleh C, “Vascular Disease Prevention”, Volume 3, Number 4, November 2006, pp.313-318 (6) Melatonin and Sleep-A Role for Honey
Melatonin is a multifaceted hormone that promotes sleep. Melatonin is also involved in immune function, anti-carcinogenic activity, anti-oxidant activity, ani-osteoporosis mechanisms, and may act as an anti-depressive hormone. The latest research on melatonin points to an important role in memory consolidation during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Natural honey consumed prior to bedtime may promote sleep via release of melatonin as explained in the Honey-Insulin-Melatonin-Cycle (HYMN) See below. Thus honey may be described as a natural facilitator or trigger for “ optimized recovery physiology” during restorative sleep.
Pandi-Perumal SR, Srinivasan V, Maestroni GJ, CardinaliDP, Poeggeler B,Hardeland R, “Melatonin: Nature’s most versatile biological signal?” FEBS Journa. Volume 273, Number 13, July 2006. pp.2813-2838 (26) A Study from the Comprehensive Center fo Sleep Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA
HONEY, SLEEP AND THE “HYMN” CYCLE
Natural honey may improve sleep quality. It can be described by the Honey- Insulin-Melatonin Cycle or “HYMN Cycle
Each step of the cycle is well established and may be found in text books of biochemistry. These steps describe a cycle that culminates in optimized recovery physiology during restorative sleep and the reduction in the release of stress hormones during the night.
The cycle begins with the ingestion of 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey in the hour prior to bedtime and proceeds as follows:
1) The glucose portion of honey passes from the gut, through the liver and into the general circulation producing a mild or controlled glucose spike.
2) The mild elevation prompts a mild controlled release of insulin from the pancreas
3) This in turn drives tryptophan into the brain
4) Tryptophan is converted to serotonin, a key hormone that promotes relasation
5) In darkness, serotonin is converted to melatonin in the pineal gland
6) Melatonin activates sleep
7) Melatonin also inhibits the release of insulin from the pancreas thus preventing a rapid drop in blood sugar level
8) Meletonin promotes the release of growth hormone. Growth hormone is the hormone governing all of recovery physiology. This is the key first step in recovery or restorative physiology that occurs overnight.
9) Next, an array of recovery hormones initiate the repair, maintenance and rebuilding of bone, muscle, and other body tissues.
10) Melatonin also impacts memory consolidation by its requirement for the formation of NCAMS- neural cell adhesion molecules- during REM sleep- and these are necessary for the processing of short term memory from the hippocampus into long term memory in the brain cortex.
11) Concurrent with the above, the fructose portion of honey carries out its critical role. Fructose is taken up by the liver where some is converted to glucose and then to liver glycogen, thus providing the brain with a sustained supply of glucose for the night. Without liver glycogen for fuel, the brain only has sufficient glycogen to survive about 30 seconds.
12) In addition, fructose regulates glucose uptake into the liver. Thus, fructose insures good liver glycogen supply overnight and prevents a major glucose/insulin spike.
13) An adequate liver glycogen supply meansthat stress hormones need not be released. This beneficial effect on an individual’s hormone profile over time will have a profound impact on the public health concerns regarding obesity, diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
Muray Rk, Granner DK, Mayes PA, Rodwell, VW, Harper’s Biochemistry, 22nd Edition, Appleton & Lange, 1990
Rang HP, Dale MM, Pharmacology, Dhurchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1991
Gibney MJ, Macdonald IA, Roche HM, Nutrition & Metabolism, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford 2003
HONEY PROMOTES SLEEP
Honey when consumed at bedtime will promote melatonin production via the HYMN cycle (see above). Thus, natural honey may positively impact memory by two mechanisms: 1) by promoting melatonin which effects cognitive processes during REM sleep and 2) by reducing the production of the adrenal stress hormone, cortisol, which is known to attack short term memory in the hippocampus.
Smith C, “Sleep states and memory processes”, Behavioral Brain Research, 1995 July-Aug;69 (1-2);137-45 from the Department of Psychology, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
HONEY AND ITS EFFECTS ON THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Febrile neutropenia is a serous side effect of chemotherapy. Colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) are used for primary treatment. The use of CSFs is expensive and accompanied by side effects. Thirty cancer patients receiving chemotherapy were treated with CSFs. Then the patients repeated the same chemotherapy schedule with the addition of a special honey. The conclusion was that there was no recurrence of neutropenia after the honey intake and no need for treatment with CSFs in 12 of 40% of the patients.
This hospital-based study demonstrated that a special honey improved the immune system responses of patients undergoing chemotherapy for various types of cancer. In some patients, the use of honey made the use of a drug (CSF) unnecessary (in the US, the cost of administration of CSF is over $1000 per dose). That such a natural food may achieve such a powerful physiological effect (with no side-effects) is a significant demonstration of the potent and beneficial physiology of honey.
Zidan, Jamal; Shetver, Kika; Gershuny, Antoony; Abzah, Amira; Tamam, Sigalit; Stein, Moshe; and Friedman, Eitan; “Prevention of Chemotherapy-Induced Neutropenia by Special Honey Intake” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 67, 519S-526S, Also, The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, Inc. Medical Oncology, vol.23, no. 4, 549-552, 2006
LEAVE IT TO BEES
Dextromethorphan is a common over-the-counter medication for children’s cough, despite evidence that it works no better than placebo. By contrast, honey is considered safe for children over the age of one and is recommended for persistent cough by the World Health Organization.
A recent study put these cough remedies to the test. Subjects aged 2 to 18 with upper respiratory tract infections were assigned to take honey, dextromethorphan, or placebo. Researchers report that honey led to significantly greater improvements than dextromethorphan or placebo, including reduced frequency and severity of cough and promoted better sleep quality. Study authors conclude that honey provides a “generally safe and well-tolerated alternative for practitioners to recommend.”
Source: “Study Finds Honey More Effective than Dextromethorphan for Children’s Nighttime Cough” by Marissa N. Oppel, MS, HerbClip 8/15/08.