While its sweet taste makes it a good sugar substitute for weight watchers, honey has plenty of health benefits, too. It has a high nutritional value and is packed with antioxidants that prevent heart diseases, aging and cellular dysfunction.(1,2,3,4,5)
Honey contains essential nutrients and micro-nutrients that are required for boosting metabolism, immunity and other important body functions.(6,7) Honey is also a potent broad spectrum antibiotic (kills a wide range of bacteria).(8)
While it improves the absorption of iron which is beneficial for anemics,(9) did you know that it’s an effective remedy to improve digestion, too?
Honey For Digestion
Honey is packed with enzymes that enhance the digestion of food substances, especially carbohydrates such as starch and sugar. It relieves acidity and increases the production of intestinal mucus that eases digestion. Unlike refined sugar (sucrose) which normally has to undergo digestion, honey contains monosaccharides (simple sugars) that are in pre-digested form and can be easily absorbed by the body. (1,2)
The gastrointestinal tract contains a lot of beneficial and essential bacteria, especially Bifidobacteria, that aid digestion and improve gut health. Consuming foods rich in prebiotics (substances that enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria) such as honey have been found to increase the Bifidobacteria population in the gastrointestinal tract.(10,11,12)
Several animal studies and in-lab experiments have documented the importance of natural honey consumption on the growth of the beneficial bacteria (Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli).(10-15) A comparative study done between natural honey and refined sugar (sucrose) shows how honey increased the good bacteria (Lactobacilli), while sucrose had no effect.(16)
How To Take It
1. Have 2tsp of honey with a glass of warm water first thing in the morning.
2. Substitute honey for refined sugar in your teas, drinks, juices and smoothies. Add it to your pancakes and waffles to enhance the flavor and boost your health.
1. White JW, Doner LW: Honey composition and properties: Beekeeping in the United States. Agric Handbook 1980, 335:82-91.
2. Bogdanov S, Jurendic T, Sieber R, Gallmann P. Honey for nutrition and health: a review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Dec;27(6):677-89. Review. PubMed PMID: 19155427.
3. Ajibola A, Idowu GO, Amballi AA, Oyefuga OH, Iquot IS: Improvement of some haematological parameters in albino rats with pure natural honey. J Biol Sci Res 2007, 2:67-69.
4. Schramm DD, Karim M, Schrader HR, Holt RR, Cardetti M, Keen CL. Honey with high levels of antioxidants can provide protection to healthy human subjects. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Mar 12;51(6):1732-5. PubMed PMID: 12617614.
5. Al-Waili NS. Effects of daily consumption of honey solution on hematological indices and blood levels of minerals and enzymes in normal individuals. J Med Food. 2003 Summer;6(2):135-40. PubMed PMID: 12935325.
6. Ajibola et al. Nutrition & Metabolism 2012 9:61 doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-61.
7. Chepulis LM: The effects of honey compared with sucrose and a sugar-free diet on neutrophil phagocytosis and lymphocyte numbers after long-term feeding in rats. J. Compl Integrat Med 2007, 4(1):1-7.
8. Alvarez-Suarez JM, Tulipani S, Díaz D, Estevez Y, Romandini S, Giampieri F, Damiani E, Astolfi P, Bompadre S, Battino M. Antioxidant and antimicrobial capacity of several monofloral Cuban honeys and their correlation with color, polyphenol content and other chemical compounds. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Aug-Sep;48(8-9):2490-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2010.06.021. Epub 2010 Jun 15. PubMed PMID: 20558231.
9. Ajibola A, Idowu GO, Amballi AA, Oyefuga OH, Iquot IS: Improvement of some haematological parameters in albino rats with pure natural honey. J Biol Sci Res 2007, 2:67-69.
10. Busserolles J, Gueux E, Rock E, Mazur A, Rayssiguier Y. Substituting honey for refined carbohydrates protects rats from hypertriglyceridemic and prooxidative effects of fructose. J Nutr. 2002 Nov;132(11):3379-82. PubMed PMID: 12421854.
11. Sanz ML, Polemis N, Morales V, Corzo N, Drakoularakou A, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. In vitro investigation into the potential prebiotic activity of honey oligosaccharides. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Apr 20;53(8):2914-21. PubMed PMID: 15826039.
12. Yun YW: Fructooligosaccharides – occurrence, preparation and application. Enzyme Microb Technol 1996, 19:107-117.
13. Ustunol Z, Gandhi H. Growth and viability of commercial Bifidobacterium spp. in honey-sweetened skim milk. J Food Prot. 2001 Nov;64(11):1775-9. PubMed PMID: 11726158.
14. Kajiwara S, Gandhi H, Ustunol Z. Effect of honey on the growth of and acid production by human intestinal Bifidobacterium spp.: an in vitro comparison with commercial oligosaccharides and inulin. J Food Prot. 2002 Jan;65(1):214-8. PubMed PMID: 11808799.
15. Shin HS, Ustunol Z: Carbohydrate composition of honey from different floral sources and their influence on growth of selected intestinal bacteria: An in vitro comparison. Food Res Int 2005, 38:721-728.
16. Shamala TR, Shri Jyothi Y, Saibaba P. Stimulatory effect of honey on multiplication of lactic acid bacteria under in vitro and in vivo conditions. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2000 Jun;30(6):453-5. PubMed PMID: 10849275.