The nectar of Gods is a great source of energy and has many benefits provided that one chooses the right kind of honey, says ISHI KHOSLA
Honey has been an intrinsic part of our dietary history. From being an essential in Ayurveda to a specially sourced superfood staple sitting on the shelves of our grandparents' homes, it was the sweet treat that cured many an ailment in our homes. The true potential of honey is still to be realised as there are some many unfounded misconceptions and myths about honey. Here is an attempt to debunk some of the most prevalent ones.
This nectar harvested by bees is loaded with essentials that our body needs —Oligosaccharides (plant sugars linked in chains, mostly used in treatment for stomach ailments and high cholesterol levels ), B and C vitamins, minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium and antioxidants. A variety of studies conducted over the years have proven what our ancestors knew -
Oral health: According to some studies , honey reduces the amount of acid produced in the mouth, which stops the bacteria from producing dextran — a component of dental plaque, thus helps to stop the growth of the bacteria as well. Studies pitting Manuka honey against two leading medical oral treatments for dental plaque showed that honey was equal to one and significantly better than the other. Its effects were studied on gingivitis and ulceration as well, showing significant improvement in patients during trial .
Heart health: Honey is laden with antioxidants like phenolic compounds, flavonoids and pinocembrin. Antioxidants, especially phenolic compounds and flavonoid have shown reduced risk of heart diseases and stroke in various epidemiological studies. Some studies show that buckwheat (Kuttu) honey can increase the capacity of antioxidants in the blood by helping the arteries to dilate, which enables adequate blood flow to the heart. The antioxidants also inhibit platelets from forming blood clots as well as prevent LDL cholesterol.
Respiratory health: Sore throats and coughs can benefit from a soothing effect of honey along with conventional medicine to cure the ailment.
Gut health: Honey could have a twofold benefit in bettering the gut microbiota which is the core of our health and immunity. On the one hand it encourages the beneficial bacteria in the way of potential prebiotics and while the studies on this are early, it definitely has antibacterial properties as well which synergistically enhance the probiotic efficacy against pathogens.
Wound healing: The viscosity and the hygroscopic qualities of honey makes for an even spread on the wound bed, creating a favourable environment for healing. Given that honey has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, studies have shown that it can be used as a wound dressing to promote rapid and improved healing. This is effective due to honey’s anti-bacterial action, secondary to its high acidity, osmotic effect, anti-oxidant and hydrogen peroxide content. The use of honey improves wound healing in acute cases, pain relief in burn patients and decreased inflammatory response in such patients.
The writer is a practicing clinical nutritionist