As far back as the 2,000 BC, honey has been used as a natural sweetener and as a preservative. As humans we are wired to seek sweet food. Honey is best known for its taste and as a suitable replacement for sugar. However, the usefulness of honey eclipses just the edible nature of the sweet substance.
Honey is a thick golden liquid produced by bees as they feed on nectar from flowering plants. Honey is saved in honeycombs found in beehives. It is a has a wide array of medicinal uses whether eaten or rubbed on the skin that most people do not know about.
Honey is rich in carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Its taste, colour, aroma and texture and these depends on the type of flower the nectar was got from. Honey can be got in its raw form or processed form, the raw has more medicinal properties because the vitamins, minerals and enzymes are left intact. Although honey is a natural source of sugar, it should also be eaten in moderation because it also has the ability to raise blood sugar though not as quickly or as high as processed sugars.
I hear people say because honey is natural, you can have as much as you want! No, not true, honey is a concentrated source of simple sugars and simple sugars are easily broken in the digestive system and they enter into the blood. But the advantage over processed sugars is that it has a moderate glycemic index between 50 and 70, and thus will not cause sugar spikes i.e rapid increase in blood sugar levels. Glycemic index is a measurement carried out in carbohydrate containing food to check how fast or how high it will cause blood sugar to rise. It uses a scale of 0 to 100. When honey is used with fibre it greatly slows down its absorption.
HEALTH BENEFITS HONEY
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Honey has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is said to be the major cause of most chronic diseases. Chronic diseases range from diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, asthma, and cancers. This anti-inflammatory property is employed in the management of allergic conditions, eczema, pain and swelling. Honey is also used to boost the body’s immune system.
- Antimicrobial effects: Honey can be used to treat or manage infections caused by bacteria, fungus or virus either by ingesting it or rubbing it on the affected areas. Honey is used in treating difficult wounds such as diabetic sores/ulcers, sickle cell leg ulcers, fire and sun burns. Honey is used on the face to treat acne, on the scalp to treat dandruff and manage itching. Its antibacterial effect is attributed to its ability to form hydrogen peroxide which is toxic to infectious agents. Honey has anti fungal and anti-viral effects, and is used to relieve the symptoms of herpes. it is used to speed up treatment and healing of whit low. Honey’s antimicrobial effects is also used in food and fruit preservation. The antimicrobial effects also help in accelerating wound healing, thus honey is used for dressing surgical wounds, and skin grafting.
- Honey also has good moisturizing and exfoliating effects, this is very useful for managing chapped lips, elbow and knees, scars on skin and scalp care. It is used as a shampoo or conditioner to prevent split ends and hair loss. Honey solution can also be used to prevent shaving bumps.
- Antioxidant effects helps boost memory, mop up free radicals in the body as well as boost cholesterol lowering effects. This role helps in preventing many chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.
- Gut health: According to Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, all disease begin in the gut! Honey contains pre-biotics which is food that feed the beneficial bacteria found in our digestive system thus preventing an overgrowth of the bad bacteria. This helps digestion, absorption, metabolism as well as improve our immunity.
- Soothing effects: Honey can also be used to soothe bad cases of cough. Honey should be mixed with warm water and taken three times a day for three days. The honey forms a protective coat on the throat reliving the irritation and soothing the cough.
- Energy drink: Honey is also a remarkable source of energy and can be used as a substitute to energy drinks. It can be used as an emergency drink when someone has low blood sugar or to boost energy while exercising. Simply add some honey to your tea or warm water or lemon juice and this can serve to boost or restore lost energy.
- Eliminating the need for sleeping pills: The use of honey before bed can also eliminate the need to use sleeping pills. Drinking honey with tea can cause an increase in the body’s insulin and serotonin levels, this will prevent metabolic stress at night caused by depleted liver glycogen that occurs at night, this will help improve quality and length of sleep.
- Regulating blood sugar: Apart from supplying the body with energy, honey is not the same thing as refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. It provides a stable level of fructose and glucose that can help the body to regulates its sugar levels.
- Weight loss:It is worth noting that one tablespoon of honey (21g) contains 64 calories and 17g of sugar, no fibre, fat or cholesterol while a tablespoon of sugar contains 49 calories, 12.6g sugar. Yes honey is higher in calories but comes with certain health benefits, therefore not all calories are created equally; processed sugars provide empty calories. Although honey is higher in calories than processed sugars, less tends to have a sweeter effect than sugar of the same quantity so replacing processed sugar with honey can help in reducing weight.
How to differentiate real from fake honey
• Real honey hardens over time while diluted honey stays liquid forever.
• Real honey takes some time and stirring to melt/dissolve in water. Unfortunately, some adulterated honeys as well, will stick together and sink as a solid lump, or remain stuck as a lump on the spoon. If the honey has been mixed with certain kinds of sugar syrup, it will dissolve in the water.
• For the real honey, you can taste more than one flavor, like different flowers or herbs? While fake honey only tastes sweet, with a little honey-like flavor.
Remember, these tests are not 100% accurate. Different types of pure honey have a large range of density, flammability, flavour and other characteristics.
• Set fire to a cotton pad or candle wick dipped in honey. This test only checks for added water in the honey, which may prevent the honey from burning. Dip a cotton pad or the cotton wick of a candle into a bit of the honey, and shake off the excess. Attempt to light the cotton pad or wick. If it burns easily, then it probably has no added water, but may or may not have other substances added. If it refuses to burn or makes a cracking sound instead, water may have been added.
Drop honey on blotting paper or a paper towel. If honey has been diluted with water, it may be absorbed or leave a wet mark on an absorbent material such as blotting paper. Pure honey should not be consumed, but unfortunately neither will honey diluted with most sugar syrups.
Dispelling Honey Purity Myths
1. Don’t let ants make your decision for you. Ants are interested in anything sweet and nutritious. Ants will eat honey, colored corn syrup, and anything in between.
2. Realize that mixing honey and alcohol is not a useful test. Some sources claim that mixing impure honey into methylated spirits or other alcohol will dissolve it and make the solution milky, while pure honey will stay undissolved at the bottom. Other sources claim the exact opposite! This myth dates back at least to 1893 and was not accepted by professional beekeepers even then.
Honey has a number of useful properties for promoting all round health and well-being. But note:
- Do not give honey to babies less than one year old. Because of their immature immune system, if the honey happens to be contaminated with spores of the bacteria that produces Botox, the baby develops muscle weakness and difficulties in breathing
- Sugar is sugar for diabetics, so if you have diabetes and really want to sweeten your food, take very little and have fibre along with it.
Honey’s wonderful, delicious variety works against you when you’re trying to find a simple test. Different types of pure honey can cover a large range of density, flammability, and other characteristics. While the following tests are based on true principles, in practice your results may be inconclusive. Try several of these tests to see if the honey fails or passes consistently. In many cases, you can get nothing more than a good guess.
Thank you. Your comments, questions and contributions are welcome. Are there more benefits? Please let us know.
Wishing you good health and happiness,