The Importance of Honey - 3 Things to Remember

13.05.2017. 08:00

Last ten years have brought an explosion of awareness about the benefits that honey can give you. Scientists are trying to show us why we should care about the importance of honey.

There are many benefits that you can get with honey. Why is honey so important for you? In this article, you will get some things worth remembering and an answer to why the use of honey in the millennial generation keeps rising. The time has changed, and natural products become an important part of our daily life. Honey as a healing product is nothing new; it was used in medicine 5,000 years ago (in Egypt). Honey was used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine; Greeks were using it, even the Romans! The importance of honey is not something new, but in last decade everyone started to talk about it.

"My son, eat thou honey, for it is good"

Most people think that honey is a way to replace sugar, but it’s not only that, honey is much more. Most people don’t know that honey adds nutrition to your body. Honey is less likely to spike blood sugar level; it has a lower rating on the glycemic index than table sugar. Also, it contains antioxidants so it can help you against cellular damage. Even King Solomon of the Bible once said, “My son, eat thou honey”. If you still don’t see what is the importance of honey, this article could give you a reason.

Importance of Honey for Your Body

Possible health benefits of honey have been documented since ancient times. Honey had many uses, ranging from dressing wounds to embalming their dead. It influences the body in different ways, depending on how it's used. To be able to take advantage of all health benefits of honey you should use raw honey. Processed honey has fewer beneficial active ingredients. We mention several benefits that honey might have on our body.

Honey Can be Dangerous for Kids

Babies under one year should NOT be given honey or anything containing honey. At that age baby’s large intestine is not fully developed which makes it vulnerable to bacteria. Honey can contain Clostridium botulinum bacteria which can cause infant botulism. Adults can handle that bacteria without health issues because of the fully developed intestine.

Boosts Body’s Defenses

Adding honey as a sweetener instead of sugar might help boost your body’s natural defenses. Honey contains substances that can protect cells in the body from structural damage. Those substances are called antioxidants. One of the antioxidants in honey is a very strong polyphenol. Polyphenol reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Besides honey, they can also be found in fruits, vegetables, tea and olive oil. Raw honey is particularly high in antioxidants compared to processed (heated) honey. The color of honey indicates the concentration of antioxidants. Honey containing more antioxidants is darker in color.

Antibacterial Benefits

Honey can kill or inhibit the growth of a wide range of bacterial and fungal species. The discovery occurred in 1882, thanks to Dutch scientist Van Ketel. Honey’s antibacterial properties come from hydrogen peroxide produced by enzyme glucose oxidase. According to 2008 study honey can destroy drug-resistant bacteria like MSRA. Research has found that honey can destroy some parasites, viruses and tumor cells. The importance of honey is that it fights infection better than antibiotics. Antibiotics target bacteria while they are growing, giving an opportunity to develop resistance. Honey's properties prevent pathogens from easily developing resistance to it. Honey disrupts quorum sensing and makes antibiotics more effective. Quorum sensing is cell communication that enables bacteria to adapt and develop resistance. This is very beneficial, as antibiotic resistance is a common problem.

Honey Reduces Symptoms of Allergies

Seasonal allergies are creating problems for many people. They usually begin in February and last until August or September. These allergies occur when plants start to produce pollen. People may inhale pollen, and the body perceives it as a foreign invader, similar to a bacteria or virus. In response, the body mounts an attack which results in allergy symptoms. Honey treats allergies similar to allergy shots. By eating local honey, a person is taking a small amount of pollen that might be causing allergy symptoms. Consuming local pollen may help in developing immunity to it. The body is exposed to small amount of pollen causing allergy, which triggers the production of antibodies. After repeated exposure body should build up antibodies. The body becomes accustomed to the presence of pollen resulting in a lesser allergic response.

Honey Boosts Memory and Energy

Honey is full of antioxidants that may help in reducing cellular damage and loss within the brain. A study from 2011 found that a daily intake of Malaysian honey may boost memory in postmenopausal women. Honey could provide an alternative therapy for the hormone related intellectual decline. After taking 20 mg of honey daily, the women had better short-term memory than women who took hormone pills. Another benefit for our brain is that honey helps the body absorb calcium. The brain needs calcium for processing thought and making decisions. An Argentinian study found the importance of honey for children. According to study honey helped in building and developing the central nervous system. Also, it can reduce anxiety, improve memory and learning, and enhance their intellectual performance. (Journal of the Argentine Chemical Society, Vol. 96, no. 2, 2008)

One of the important uses of honey is an instant energy booster. Honey contains many different kinds of sugar molecules, especially glucose and fructose. Granulated sugar consists of bonded glucose and fructose, while in honey they are separated. Because of separation, they don’t need an extra step in the digestive process. Glucose is absorbed fast and acts as an instant energy source. Fructose is absorbed slower than glucose providing energy over a longer period. Such properties provide an excellent energy boost for people engaging in sports. Energy boosting properties show the importance of honey for any active person.

Helps with Digestion

Thanks to honey being a mild laxative, it helps reduce constipation, bloating and gas. Honey is rich in "friendly" bacteria which aid in digestion, reduce allergies and keep the immune system healthy. Using honey instead of white sugar reduces the toxic effects of mycotoxins in the belly. Mycotoxins are poisonous chemical compounds produced by certain fungi.

Importance of Honey for Your Skin

Honey is an amazing natural ingredient that can enhance your skin’s beauty. It has natural moisturizers, anti-aging formulas, antioxidants, nutrients and natural healing. Such properties make it a common ingredient in many skin-care products. Our skin is our biggest organ so we should take care of it, and honey is perfect for that. Because of higher concentration of phytonutrients, raw honey is recommended. They are chemicals in plants and help to protect the plant's vitality. Some protect the plant from UV radiation while others protect it from insect attack. For humans, they can be beneficial because of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Promotes Wound Healing and Reduces Scars

Antibacterial and antiseptic properties of honey can promote healing and prevent infection. Sugars in honey react with water in such way that microorganisms cannot develop. Honey in contact with fluids from sores and ulcers promotes the production of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide can have an antibacterial effect on ulcerated areas, speeding up healing. Honey is also excellent for reducing scars from face, skin, body, and lips. It helps to regenerate the tissue of the skin by healing the scars. You could try a recipe that requires mixing one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of olive oil. Apply the mixture to damaged skin and massage it in the circular motion for one or two minutes. After the massage, place a washcloth over your skin and let it sit until cool. If repeated daily, improvement should be seen soon.

Moisturizes the Skin and Helps with Oily skin

The importance of honey for dry skin comes from its ability to absorb water from the environment. But, it should not be used in dry weather. Dry weather may result in honey extracting water from your skin, making your skin drier. The moisturizing property makes face masks with honey beneficial for dry areas of the skin. If you are prone to oily skin, then honey might be what you are looking for. It absorbs the excess moisture from your skin, so it keeps the skin safe from infections. Keeps your skin well moisturized without making it oily. Antibacterial and antiseptic properties help in eliminating pimples and acne. Continuous use might prevent the return of pimples and acne.

Cleans the Skin

The best way to clean skin is by exfoliating. Exfoliation is the process in which dead cells from the skin are removed. As we get older dead cells stick to skin surface giving dull and patchy look because of delayed shedding. Removing dead cells removes dirt that clogs pores and helps prevent acne and pimples. The organic acid from honey speeds up peeling of dead skin cells, stimulates circulation and evens skin tone. For soft and clean skin try honey and sugar scrub/face mask.

Protects Against Damage

As a natural antioxidant, honey provides protective benefits when used on the skin. Antioxidants in the honey help with skin repair by removing free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that damage cells and contribute to aging and disease. Their production is influenced by pollution, stress, the sun, disease, lack of sleep... The presence of free radicals is natural, and they can stimulate repair. In healthy body free radicals and antioxidants are in the balance. The problem starts when the concentration of free radicals gets higher, causing imbalance. Because of it antioxidants cannot negate radicals harmful effects fast enough. Such condition results in oxidative stress of internal organs. The balance can only be returned by adding more antioxidants to the body. One of the easiest ways to do that is realizing the importance of honey and eating it. Research has found that honey is effective protection of the skin from sun damage. Especially from premature wrinkling, which sometimes can lead to skin cancer.

Combats Skin and Scalp infections

There are many health benefits of honey on skin and scalp wellbeing as well. A study from 2001 researched the effects of honey on treating seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Every other day participants applied diluted honey on their problem areas. Honey was left for three hours, and then it was washed off with warm water. Treatment was successful for all patients. The itching was relieved, scaling disappeared in a week, lesions disappeared in two weeks. Patients that experienced hair loss also showed improvement. Patients who continued to apply honey once a week for six months did not suffer from a relapse.

Importance of honey for your food

Since ancient times people have loved the unique taste and sweetness of honey. They used it in cooking, baking, desserts, beverages and home remedies. The importance of honey in our food comes from many health benefits contained in it. Most commonly honey is used as an alternative sweetener. Health benefits and nutritional value make it a healthier choice than sugar. The main difference between sugar and honey is that sugar is man-made and honey is natural. Meaning that sugar is highly processed and often stripped of healthy components.

Honey has slightly more calories than sugar (honey: 64, sugar: 16), but also higher thickness and sweetness. Because of those properties, people using honey might still consume fewer calories. Less honey needs to be used for the same intensity of sweetness. The combination of fructose and glucose in honey helps regulate blood sugar levels. Glycemic index of honey is lower than that of sugar. That means that sugars from honey are absorbed slower and provide energy for a longer period. If added to a dish, honey gives it a unique flavor, balances and enhances flavors of other ingredients. To some dishes, honey might provide and help keep moisture, or even extend the shelf life of baked goods. Honey can be a great ingredient in sauces, dressings, marinades and dips as it acts as a binder and thickens them. There are many delicious recipes with honey, and they are worth trying.

Some of the recipes you could try: tea with honey or coffee with honey, honey spread on toast, honey butter cake, homemade meadpancakes with honey and raspberries...

Why honey matters? 

Honey is an excellent addition to everyone's diet. The importance of honey lies not only in its unique taste and sweetness but also in its healthy properties. To be able to get the most out of health benefits, raw honey should be used. If you are not sure what is the difference between raw and regular honey, you can check our article about the difference between them and find out. Since recently researchers have been paying more attention to medicines with a natural origin. Many believe that natural products may be more efficient than the synthetic drugs. One of the most important natural products is honey. Its properties make it beneficial for your skin, body, and food. Replacing table sugar with honey provides you a good source of nutrients. But, the most well-known effect of honey is antibacterial activity. Honey has also shown the preventive effect on yeast, fungi, and some viruses. Honey has been effectively used on skin injuries such as lesions, superficial skin burns, and post-operation wounds. Also, honey has been used in some gastrointestinal,  cardiovascular, inflammatory and neoplastic states. The antioxidant capacity of honey plays an important role in its useful effects. Keep in mind that it should only be consumed in moderation, as it is still high in calories and sugar.

Read More Raw honey vs regular honey: what's the difference between the two?

Honey is a powerful natural product, and you should be aware of that! A simple spoonful of honey can help in keeping you healthy and energized. If you haven’t tried it yet, maybe it’s time to include it in your daily life and see all the benefits yourself.