Honey is a type of sweet food made by bees which uses nectar from flowers. The edible type consumed by us comes from honey bees belonging to the genus Apis. These honey bees transform nectar into honey by evaporation and regurgitation. Inside the beehive they store it in honeycombs made of wax.
The Goodness of Honey
Honey can be consumed as food, as sugar substitute or as sweetener. Microorganisms cannot live in honey because of its low water content; however some microorganisms such as endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum may live in it and cause harms to health. These endospores can transform into bacteria that may produce toxins that can bring about illnesses and death.
Across the centuries, honey has been used due to its potential health benefits. It owes its sweetness due to the monosaccharides fructose and glucose. It has been used to treat ailments before. First of all, honey has been known to prevent cancers and heart disease due to its healthy contents such as antioxidants and flavonoids which can have benefits in heart and overall health. Honey can also prevent ulcers and other gastrointestinal illnesses from occurring. It is also known as an ant-bacterial and an anti-fungal substance, which may be attributed to the fact that some experts claim that bees add an enzyme to the honey that makes hydrogen peroxide. It was also reported to increase stamina in exercise and enhance athletic performance. This substance has the ability to maintain glucogen levels in the body and improve recovery time of muscles than other supplements. For those with cough and throat irritations, honey may have certain benefits which are comparable to that of dextromethorphan in relieving nocturnal cough and allowing proper sleep.
For ayurvedic medicine practitioners honey is said to balance material needs of the body. Ayurvedic practitioners claim that it can improve eyesight, promote weight loss, treat impotence, treat premature ejaculation, and prevent urinary tract disorders, bronchial asthma, and nausea. Honey is said to penetrate the deep tissues of the body to facilitate cleansing and promote rejuvenation.
Honey is also said to regulate elevated blood sugar levels. It contains simple sugars, yet these sugars are not the same as white sugars or artificial sweeteners. Honey is a low-glycemic index type of food so that they wouldn't increase blood sugar levels further. Honey also facilitates easy healing from wounds and burns and is comparable to the topical treatment silver sulfadiazine. These simple sugars found in honey have a drying effect and may even have anti-bacterial effects. Honey may also promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, acting as a probiotic. Honey can also give rise to beautiful skin and can moisturize and nourish the skin while preventing bacterial infections.
Honey and Bacterial Resistance
A recent study has shown that honey could be a solution for problems in bacterial resistance and that it may have a larger role in fighting infections. This study made by researchers from Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. has shown that honey may have a certain ability to fight off infection at various levels, so that bacteria cannot develop resistance. Honey's weapons against microorganisms include the production of hydrogen peroxide, acidity, osmotic effect, high sugar concentrations and polyphenols. These processes and components have the ability to kill bacterial cells. Osmotic effect, in particular, is the result of the high sugar concentration in honey, which draws water from bacterial cells to dehydrate and kill them. Honey also prevents the formation of biofilms or slimy communities of disease-causing bacteria. It also inhibits quorum sensing, a way by which bacteria communicates with one another to form biofilms and promote resistance to antibiotics. Quorum sensing can also control the release of toxins which further affects pathogenicity of bacteria or their ability to cause disease.
Unlike conventional antibiotics, honey does not target essential growth processes of bacteria. In this way it prevents the buildup of bacterial resistance against drugs. This is because honey is made up of healthy polyphenols or antioxidants such as phenolic acids, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and ellagic acid. It also contains flavonoids which are beneficial to the body. Aside from these facts, honey has also been proven by many studies to have broad-spectrum antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
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