Honey is the sweet, delicious product that results from honey bees feasting on flowers. The honey bees (of the genus Apis) feed on the naturally occurring nectars found in flowers, allowing the nectar to mix with enzymes in their saliva. The nectar is then regurgitated into beehives in the form of honey. Due to the perfect amount of ventilation in honeycombs, moisture is slowly reduced until the honey is ready for consumption.
Honey mainly consists of glucose and fructose, which provide it with a rich, universally palatable flavor. Due to its inherent sweetness, it can often be used as a natural substitute for table sugar. In addition to being a delicious treat, honey has several health benefits and homeopathic uses. When selecting honey, it is important to choose the purest form available in order to maximize these benefits.
The natural sugars in honey are rapidly digested, which makes it an ideal source of fast-acting energy. Athletes who require an immediate surge in energy can benefit from the addition of honey to their pre-workout meals and snacks. Some marathoners swear by adding a couple tablespoons of honey to their peanut butter sandwiches before heading out on long runs. This practice dates back to ancient times when the first Olympians would consume large amounts of natural honey to increase energy levels and better their performance.
People suffering from diabetes, hypoglycemia, or other blood sugar-related ailments may benefit from this effect, as well. A sudden drop in blood sugar may be critically harmful, and consumption of honey can quickly bring blood sugar back up to normal levels. Also, research shows that honey is far superior to white sugar with regard to insulin sensitivity. Despite being equally palatable as a sweetener, honey will not cause the same degree of sugar intolerance that is commonly found in diabetics. In fact, moderate amounts of honey may help improve blood sugar control due to its unique ability to nourish blood vessels and improve the functionality of the vascular system.
Honey naturally boosts the immune system due to its antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. The pH of honey is generally quite acidic with a reading in the 3 to 5 range. Acidic substances are known to counteract the growth of most bacterial species, as the majority of bacteria prefer a neutral pH around 7. As a result, bacterial colonies fail to flourish in the presence of honey.
Recent scientific research found a chemical compound in honey that may be instrumental to its longstanding reputation as an antimicrobial agent. Methylgloxal is a compound specifically found in Manuka honey. Laboratory experiments continue to show methylgloxal as an effective antimicrobial against drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus biofilms. The Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, particularly the drug-resistant strands, are the culprits in numerous, potentially fatal infections collectively referred to as “Staph infections.” Honey inhibits several other bacteria implicated as the cause of common infections.
Honey is rich in polyphenols that provide it with antioxidant qualities. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are an unavoidable byproduct of normal metabolic processes. Free radical buildup can cause significant damage to the body, and may eventually lead to heart disease, cancer, and other devastating illnesses. Honey has been specifically noted for reducing incidences of colon cancer. While there is no definitive cure for the common cold, honey has withstood the test of time as a reliable remedy. This may be due to antioxidant compounds, as well. A mixture of honey and lemon juice provides relief for cold symptoms and is very soothing for sore throats.
The miraculous benefits of ingesting honey can also be reaped from applying it as a topical antiseptic. Honey is especially useful when treating burns. Burn wounds have an unbelievably high rate of infection due to the destruction of several layers of dermal tissue. Honey has natural antiseptic properties that ward off bacteria and prevent infections. Not only does honey prevent infections, but it also promotes rapid healing. The glucose and fructose components in honey tend to absorb water, which dries the wound up, accelerating the healing process. Most bacteria cannot thrive in a moisture-free environment. Additionally, honey is naturally infused with enzymes that combine with water to form the antimicrobial agent, Hydrogen Peroxide.
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