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For many years, humans used honey in their food and drink, but its benefits go beyond being the oldest sweetener on earth. We can trace back the advantages of honey to ancient Egypt and Greece, where it was used as a remedy and medicine for various diseases. Today, we know that honey consists of over 600 compounds that make it a healthier alternative to refined sugar.
Essentially, honey is nectar that bees digested and then regurgitated. Thanks to its bee pollen and bee propolis components, honey contains anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant and anticancer components. This means that honey can help improve multiple bodily functions and treat various conditions like asthma, diarrhea, and nausea.
Here are the top 10 reasons why honey should be part of your lifestyle.
1. It contains vitamins and nutrients
Natural honey is a nutraceutical agent. A tablespoon contains 64 calories, 17 grams of sugar, and five major nutrients. While honey has no fiber, fat, or protein, it contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals that can fill your daily requirement.
This includes ascorbic acid and niacin, which strengthen the immune system and lower bad cholesterol levels. A study shows that those who took 250 milliliters of water with 75 grams of natural honey for two weeks lowered their bad cholesterol and increased their good cholesterol.
Moreover, this added sugar contains up to six species of lactobacilli and four species of bifidobacteria, all good bacteria that partly provide honey’s therapeutic properties.
2. It improves gastrointestinal problems
Honey is a popular home remedy for digestive problems. It works as a mild laxative against constipation, especially when mixed with warm water, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of lemon juice.
At the same time, the antibacterial properties in honey promote increased water and potassium intake and can shorten the duration and severity of diarrhea. Moreover, honey blocks pathogens from attaching to intestinal cells, lowering the risk of gastrointestinal tract infections like bacterial gastroenteritis.
As an anti-inflammatory agent, honey also helps stimulate the growth of new tissues to repair damaged mucosa in the intestines. This reduces ulcers and aids in the treatment of dehydration.
3. It’s rich in antioxidants
High quality honey contains phenolic compounds and organic acids that help the body recover from oxidative stress that can lead to chronic health risks like cancer and heart diseases.
It also includes differing concentrations of polyphenolic antioxidants, which are also found in fruits and vegetables. Honey’s flavonoid, ascorbic acid, and phytochemical content are largely responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties.
These help stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage, and slow the growth of cancer cells. Darker honey, like buckwheat honey, contains more antioxidants, which is helpful in lowering blood pressure.
4. It beats hangovers
Alcohol overindulgence leads to potassium deficiency, and honey, a good source of potassium, can help counteract that. It’s also equal parts glucose and fructose, which means that it can speed up alcohol oxidation in the liver. In fact, your alcohol metabolism can increase with two ounces of honey for every 25 grams of alcohol.
Its fructose content also makes honey a natural energy drink, which can give you a quick boost of power and make you feel less irritable. When mixed with the equally potassium-rich banana, honey makes for a quick hangover remedy.
5. It aids in weight loss
Honey is actually a type of sugar, but unlike refined sugar, honey is made up of nutrients that balance its sugar content. That’s why honey is a better replacement for refined sugar as a source of glucose.
Honey even helps burn body fat during sleep and can increase metabolism when taken with warm water on an empty stomach in the morning. Honey includes essential hormones that can curb your appetite, so if you aren’t consuming sugars, take no more than six teaspoons of honey per day.
6. It can increase work performance
In ancient history, athletes used honey and dried figs as performance enhancers. Studies show that honey can maintain glycogen levels, which is virtually the only fuel that your brain uses. Moreover, glycogen’s glucose content also makes it a good energy source for strenuous activities.
Honey can also improve your recovery time for physical activities and boost your memory and concentration. By preventing metabolic stress, honey soothes the brain, increases its power, and boosts its cholinergic system to aid memory and prevent memory loss.
7. It makes your skin glow
Honey is a natural moisturizer. Its sugar molecules hold water in the skin, making it less dry. Honey’s antibacterial properties also make it a natural treatment for acne by helping reduce acne inflammation.
Simply mix equal parts honey with ground nutmeg, put it on your pimple, let it sit for 20 minutes, then wash it off. Honey is also a natural antiseptic that can effectively remedy skin burns or heal wounds.
With the drying effect of simple sugars, honey is antibacterial in nature and can even be as effective as silver sulfadiazine. Use it to correct skin tone, leave it on your skin to unclog pores, and place it on your lips to cure cracking during winter.
8. It helps suppress cough
We usually predict sweet food to lead to sore throats, but studies show that honey can be as effective as other cough medications. Drinking a tablespoon of honey can reduce throat irritation, while drinking two before bed can improve sleep.
To soothe your throat, simply pour one-third of a cup of water over one teaspoon of grated ginger, then add one-half of a lemon’s juice and one teaspoon of honey. Gargle until the irritation goes away. A single dose of buckwheat honey can go toe to toe with a single dose of the cough suppressant dextromethorphan.
That’s because honey is a mild antibacterial that offers relief from irritation by forming a film in the throat.
9. It’s good for your hygiene
More than having medicinal benefits, honey can also eliminate dandruff, clean your body, and soften your hair. Honey has anti-fungal properties that relieves itching, improves scaling, and moisturizes the scalp.
Simply dilute honey in warm water and massage into the scalp for three minutes. Combining two teaspoons of honey with a tablespoon of olive oil can also kill body odor and acne-causing bacteria. Adding half a cup of brown sugar to honey makes it a natural body scrub.
To get the full spa treatment and relax your senses, add essential oils. You can also use it with lavender and green tea to prevent hair fall. Simply apply it on your hair and keep it on for 15 minutes before shampooing.
10. It regulates blood levels
Preplacing refined sugar with honey can keep blood sugar levels down. Honey can reduce blood lipids among normal and overweight individuals, while it can lower plasma glucose levels among type 2 diabetics.
Since honey’s high sugar content can prevent hypoglycemia and improve cholesterol levels, some studies suggest that this may be useful for diabetics.
However, honey is still high in sugars and calories, and needs to be taken in moderation. Overall, honey’s antioxidants can help lower blood pressure, helping lower the risk of heart diseases.