I was asked by a pal to write a blog about honey. Sounds boring, right? Just like sugar, right? Bees make it, so what, no big deal, right? Hmm well not quite.
Bees are like natures magical alchemists. It takes hundreds sometimes thousands of bees all working together with their individual roles to collect pollen from flowers, gathering enough nectar to make up a honeycomb that can consist of the pollen from over 2 million flowers in its entirety. If we consider how bees ‘make’ nectar from pollen it’s enough to put us off for life. They start sucking it up and swallowing it into their ‘extra’ stomach where it combines with bee enzymes before being regurgitated into another bees mouth and passed on. This goes on for quite some time. swallow, enzymes mix, regurgitate and pass along until it eventually becomes partially digested and finally deposited into a honeycomb. Then other bees take over fannying the honeycomb with their wings until the liquid nectar is solidified and the water evaporated. Disgusting I know. But here’s the good bit… honey is what if left.
Now onto reasons why it really is natures nectar (nectar meaning ‘The drink of the Gods’ in both Roman and Green mythology) and it really is something quite special. Honey is rich in vital minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium. It also fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free. It is a natural energy source, unprocessed, and without unnecessary chemical additives this sweet formula provides the body with a form of glucose readily absorbed and utilised and helps to stabilise blood sugar levels, it has also been known to improve athletic performance and boost immunity.
It is the antioxidants that are in honey that are re-known for their medicinal qualities but honey has also been used for its antibacterial properties too throughout the years. Not only does it boost immunity and help fight off illnesses and diseases it has been used to treat coughs, colds, wounds and burns. These antioxidants also help prevent against heart disease as they are absorbed so easily into the blood. Honey also has the healing powers of such strength that it can help the worst hangover, speeding up the metabolism of alcohol and thus speeding up recovery after a good night.
If this isn’t a list full of reason enough to ditch the white stuff (sugar) for the honeycomb then maybe the fact that it can also treat dandruff, skin conditions, act as a conditioner and as a natural anti histamine might sway you? Local honey consumption over a period of time can help build up a resistance to allergens in pollen as it desensitizes the body to the pollen produced in the area and in theory reduces the chance of suffering from hayfever in peak season.
And we’re not quite done yet. If consumed before bed the body burns more fat during sleep and it can actually facilitate a better night’s sleep due to it enhancing the release of serotonin (neurotransmitter that improves mood and emotion) which then converts into melatonin which aids sleep. If every spoon of sugar was replaced with honey the natural properties that it contains helps to rebalance the signal in the brain triggering the need for sugar whilst stabilising the body’s blood sugar levels so that the person doesn’t feel the dramatic effects of a sugar high and dip.
Local honey for folks in Barnsley/Sheffield can be found in many farm shops, Workershoney.com or Yorkshirebees.com.