Honey has been used for centuries as both a food and medicine. Modern science has confirmed many of the folk uses of honey and shown that it has many other potential benefits that are not yet widely known. Here are 10 health benefits of honey that may surprise you!
1. Honey and Allergies
One of the lesser-known health benefits of honey is its potential to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms!
Studies suggest that consuming locally-produced, raw honey can help to reduce the severity of hay fever symptoms by exposing your body to pollens from the local area. This helps build up your body’s tolerance to those pollens and allergens, which reduces your immune response, leading to fewer symptoms.
Another way that it could play a role in reducing allergies is that honey contains small doses of some allergens, which can stimulate your immune system in a way that could diminish your body’s reaction to these allergens. This effect is still being studied, but it appears that eating a small amount of raw honey per day from a local source may reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.
It is important to note that honey is not a substitute for medical treatment and should only be used to supplement or support a proper treatment plan prescribed by your doctor or medical practicioner.
2. Honey and Antioxidants
Honey is packed with powerful antioxidants that can help protect your body against damage. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals, which can cause oxidative damage to the body. This damage has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including Alzheimer’s and heart disease, so it is important to protect yourself whenever you can.
Honey is also a great source of polyphenols, which research suggests can help reduce inflammation. Studies show that polyphenols, which can also be found in olive oil and other foods, have been linked to lower cholesterol levels and better cardiovascular health overall.
The overall antioxidant content of honey can vary, so it is important to look for a type of honey that is particularly high in antioxidants if you want to reap these benefits.
3. Honey and Gut Health
One of the health benefits of honey that is not commonly discussed is its effects on gut health. Honey is with antimicrobial compounds and prebiotics that can assist your body in maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria within your gut. The antimicrobial compounds can help prevent the overgrowth of harmful strains of bacteria, while the prebiotics work by providing an environment in which beneficial bacteria can thrive.
A healthy balance of gut bacteria can lead to improved digestive functioning, which may reduce the symptoms of IBS and other gut-related illnesses. On top of this, honey also has anti-inflammatory properties. These can be beneficial for individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, as reducing the inflammation can decrease the severity of their symptoms.
4. Honey and Skin Health
Honey is pretty widely known in the beauty industry for its beneficial effects on skin health, which is why you often see it as an ingredient in face masks and moisturizers.
It works as a natural humectant, which means it traps and retains moisture in the skin to keep it hydrated and healthy. This can help to reduce dryness and itching, as well as prevent premature wrinkles and other common issues that crop up with aging, mature skin. The antioxidant content in honey that we covered earlier can also provide protection against the damaging effects of free radicals, which can cause skin damage and premature aging.
Another bonus for skin health comes from the antibacterial properties of honey. which may help reduce the risk of infection for those with itchy or bothersome skin conditions, like acne or eczema. Additionally, some research suggests that these beneficial properties of honey may accelerate the healing of minor wounds.
5. Honey and Sleep
There is also evidence to suggest that honey may have beneficial effects on sleep. It is a source of the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin, which the body is supposed to produce naturally near bedtime to help you fall asleep easier. Honey has also been found to contain the sleep-promoting compound, GABA, which may help to reduce anxiety and promote calming, restful sleep.
6. Honey and Energy
Honey is an excellent source of natural energy, as it contains both simple and complex carbohydrates. These provide your body with a steady supply of energy throughout the day and can help to reduce fatigue, increasing your overall energy levels.
Another attribute that may help you feel energized is that honey has a lower glycaemic index than sugar. This means that it is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream, which helps reduce the blood sugar spikes that are often followed by slumps that leave you feeling tired or unable to focus
7. Honey and Stress
As well as providing you with an energy boost, honey is also helpful in reducing stress levels. It is rich in certain B vitamins, which have been found to reduce cortisol and other stress hormones in some studies. This may be enhanced further by honey’s magnesium content, which has been linked to lower stress levels by promoting relaxation.
8. Honey and Immunity
Another health benefit of honey is its potential to boost your immunity. Its antiviral and antibacterial properties can help to protect your body from infection and may even reduce the duration of some colds and illnesses. There have been limited studies on whether honey can actually shorten some illnesses’ duration, although the results seem promising.
The anti-inflammatory properties of honey may also help people with certain autoimmune conditions linked to chronic inflammation as a supplement alongside a medically-approved treatment regimen.
9. Honey and Weight Loss
Honey may also assist in weight loss efforts. As mentioned above, honey releases its sugars slowly and steadily, meaning that it is less likely to cause sugar spikes that can lead to hunger cravings.
Furthermore, some research suggests that honey may assist the body’s metabolism in a variety of ways that could contribute to improved blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and a lower overall BMI. The majority of this research has been conducted on animals and extrapolated to humans, so further study is needed to directly link honey to improved BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol in humans,
10. Honey and Bone Health
Finally, one of the major promising health benefits of honey is improved bone health. There are studies that suggest that various compounds in honey may protect bone health, primarily due to its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Honey also contains gluconic acid which may promote calcium absorption.
One research article that I found suggests a link between metabolic syndrome and an increased risk of osteoporosis. The researchers involved claim that honey may assist in promoting skeletal health in the ways previously mentioned while also preventing metabolic syndrome. They also reference many studies with promising results to back up their thesis.
In short, there are more than 10 benefits of honey to your body and overall well-being. It is not a cure-all or a replacement for medical advice or treatment, but it wouldn’t hurt to add a little honey to your food or beverages in place of sugar or other sweeteners if you enjoy it. Maybe I am reaping some benefit from my love of tea with honey after all!
Please share what you think of the health benefits of honey in the comments section below!
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