Honey is an ancient sweetener with recorded uses going back to Egyptian times. It can be part of a gluten free diet and can sweeten and add interest to many dishes that are good for people who are avoiding gluten due to celiac disease. But did you know that honey has many medicinal properties as well? Honey can be used as a first aid treatment and can even be helpful for gut health. Let’s take a look at some of the amazing uses of honey.
Honey and the Gut
Ingested honey works as a prebiotic to help balance out gut microbiota, according to a recent study from the University of Auckland. Honey contains oligosaccharides, which are a kind of sugar that serve as a fuel source for the good bacteria in your gut. It also contains small amounts of polyphenols, which help to make good bacteria thrive while making an inhospitable environment for harmful bacteria. Prebiotics are a fiber substance, which are not used directly by the body for digestion. However, it is now being learned that prebiotics are a fuel source for some of the most beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to stronger immunity and health.
Honey vs. Sugar
Honey and sugar are both sweeteners, but they are not created equal. Sugar is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. Honey is only 40 percent fructose and 30 percent glucose. The remaining 30 percent of honey is made up of pollen, water, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. This accounts for some of the health benefits of honey as potassium and magnesium are important minerals which help to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and nerve function.
Sugar is higher on the glycemic index because of its higher glucose and fructose content. This means that it will raise your blood sugar more quickly than honey, which raises blood sugar at more consistent rate. A small downside could be that honey has more calories than sugar, but less honey is needed to sweeten a food.
Honey has the ability to destroy bacterial infections and aid in healing. Most famously, honey is used to treat a sore throat, but honey can also be used to treat a burn. Always consult a doctor for severe burns, but for minor burns you can apply honey and it will prevent the wound from becoming infected. No need to wash it off, just let the honey sit on the burn and cover with a clean cloth.
Honey can be used as a topical antiseptic for all manner of wounds due to the hydrogen peroxide that honey emits. As a bonus, it will prevent any protective cloth from sticking to a wound. Honey can also reduce allergies. Honey harvested from local plants can help the body fend off allergens.
All of these benefits are not possible though without the makers of honey, the bees. If you have a yard, you can return the favor to the bees by making a hospitable environment for bees that will allow for even more pollination and yes, more honey to be made.
Honey is a superfood that can not only be added to your diet, but can be used in your medicine cabinet as well. As a gluten-free food source, you can have every confidence that you are doing your body right by including honey in your diet.
Karoline Gore left her job as a nutritionist to pursue her passion of freelance writing. She enjoys the freedom, time with her family, and ability to offer her advice to readers.