The magic of honey
It’s been said that honey is the only food on earth that contains everything you need to sustain life, including carbohydrates (natural sugars), enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and water. All of these magical ingredients make the benefits of honey go far beyond its great taste.
It’s a natural source of energy
The natural sugars found in honey offer a wonderful source of energy. The glucose is quickly absorbed by the body and provides an immediate energy boost, while the fructose is slowly absorbed and thus provides sustained energy. Honey is also good at keeping blood sugar levels fairly constant in comparison with other sugars, so it’s the ideal companion to an active lifestyle or exercise regime.
- Have some honey before a workout, as the natural sugars will be released at a steady rate throughout your exercise session. A teaspoon on its own will do, but it can also be added to your favourite breakfast cereal if you prefer.
- Add some honey to your water bottle before hitting the gym (or the road). Having carbohydrates during a workout will nourish your muscles and keep your energy levels up.
- Treat yourself to some honey after exercise to recover and combining honey with protein will refuel and decrease the potential for muscle soreness. A banana, almond, yoghurt and honey smoothie is a delicious way of rewarding hard work.
- To overcome the mid-afternoon slump at work, pack a snack of honey and peanut butter on wholegrain crackers or make a dip for fresh fruit or crudités by blending honey with cream cheese or natural yoghurt.
It’s good for your immune system
Honey is a powerful immune system booster, protecting the body from bacteria and viral attacks. The anti-bacterial properties and the antioxidants found in honey help to strengthen the digestive system and the vast amount of vitamins and minerals that it offers help keep you fighting fit.
Incorporate honey into your daily routine by having a teaspoon in your morning cuppa or added to breakfast.
It deserves a spot in your first aid box
Honey has antiseptic properties, inhibiting the growth of bacteria while keeping external wounds such as cuts, scrapes or burns clean and free from infection. Because honey is a humectant (it attracts and retains water), it draws moisture from the air to accelerate healing and reduce scarring as well as acting as a mild anti-inflammatory, thus soothing pain. In addition to this, the hydrogen peroxide that is released when honey comes into contact with a wound is very helpful to the healing process.
It sobers things up
Honey is full of fructose, which helps to speed up the metabolism of alcohol. So, before reaching for the painkillers, spread some honey on a piece of toast or add it to your tea.
It clears your throat
Honey is wonderful for treating sore throats and irritating coughs. The antibacterial qualities kill bacteria while soothing inflammation and irritation. Mix honey with a little bit of lemon juice and have a few spoons a day when you are suffering from a sore throat and/or cough – or mix it with hot water for a soothing drink.
It relaxes you
Honey contains an active ingredient called tryptophan, which increases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin (the ‘feel good’ hormone) has a calming effect on the body and offers relaxation while nourishing at the same time. Have an old-fashioned cup of hot milk with a teaspoon of honey before bed when you need a good night’s sleep or give it to the little ones when they’re feeling restless.
Your skin loves it
Have you ever wondered why honey is a key ingredient in a multitude of skincare products? It’s down to more than its incredible smell and has been used on the skin for thousands of years for its hydrating and rejuvenating benefits.
The fact that honey is a humectant (it attracts and retains moisture) makes it the soul mate to a good skincare routine, especially if dryness is a problem. This valuable quality means that it attracts every bit of moisture it can from the environment and keeps it inside your skin, where it belongs. Add antioxidants (protection against UV damage), antimicrobial properties (fighting off bacteria) and alpha hydroxy acids (gentle exfoliation) to this and you have the perfect solution to clear, moisturised, elastic and silky soft skin.
Give yourself a sweet treat of a different kind by making your own skincare recipes.
To make yourself a honey, nutmeg and cinnamon face mask: blend together 2 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp cinnamon powder, 1 tsp nutmeg to form a thick paste. Apply to a freshly washed face and leave on for 30 minutes. Using a little bit of warm water, scrub in small circular motions and rinse off – but be a little careful if you have sensitive skin.
After all of this, it is no wonder that someone once said, ‘If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live’.
Any more honey tips and tricks out there?
With thanks to Karen Grandcourt for the beautiful pictures.