Honey and Gut Health

Throughout history, honey has been used for a variety of purposes: as an antiseptic for wounds, a natural sweetener, and a remedy for sore throat, among many others. It’s become so widely used that it’s a staple on supermarket shelves. Most store-bought honey, however, is pasteurized. This means that honey is put under high heat to improve its shelf life and appearance — pasteurizing improves honey’s color and texture. This process also strips away tons of nutrients from the product. Compared to pasteurized honey, raw, unprocessed honey brings so many benefits to gut health.

Balancing out the gut microbiome

Raw honey is a potent prebiotic, nourishing good bacteria in the intestines which facilitate healthy digestion. Honey contains non-digestive oligosaccharides which can’t be absorbed by the digestive tract. Instead, these oligosaccharides pass on to the colon where they’re able to ferment. This produces short-chain fatty acids that help proliferate bifidobacteria strains which aid in the digesting dietary fiber, prevention of gut infections, and producing essential digestive vitamins. In addition to helping create more good bacteria in the digestive system, honey is also an effective treatment for Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a common cause of stomach ulcers.

It’s not just honey that can improve gut health, honeycomb itself is also a great source of health benefits. In fact, it contains vitamin A and trace amounts of fiber, which improves digestion. Vitamin A is crucial in keeping the body’s immune response in check when it detects harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. And it’s only in honey packed between honeycombs where you’ll find pollen and royal jelly – both contain high amounts of B-vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B8, and B9). These are vitamins necessary for good gut bacteria to develop.

Both honey and honeycomb have huge potential to enhance the gut microbiome, mitigating the spread of harmful bacteria and encouraging the growth of necessary gut bacteria. Gut health has implications for overall health. As a recent study pointed out, the gut microbiome affects cognition, metabolism, weight management, and even mental health. The same study also suggests how using antimicrobial foods like honey could be used to control pathogenic viruses in the future.

Barriers to further research

More research on the benefits of honey would eventually lead to making it a viable option for medical treatment. However, research necessitates a team of specialized professionals, including microbiologists, gastroenterologists, nutritionists, and research nurses, among many others. Although today, the lack of research experts have focused their work on COVID-19 studies. This underscored the shortage of research and health professionals worldwide. The Canadian Nurses Association predicts a shortage of 60,000 nurses by 2022 in the country alone. But authorities are implementing initiatives to secure more nurses. In fact, Canadian provinces like Ontario and Nova Scotia have started hiring more nurses. Fortunately, in countries like America, remote learning has become more widely used as more organizations, including those in healthcare education, are moving operations online. Remote healthcare learning could help produce more skilled professionals not just in Canada and America, but around the world. Nurses now have the option to pursue online RN to BSN programs, which allow them to specialize in in-demand fields like research nursing. These programs equip them with the necessary skills and experience to conduct effective research while providing care to clinical subjects. The curriculums are offered by accredited institutions too, making these online degrees just as valid as traditional ones. With more professionals specializing in research nursing, the numerous potential applications of honey can be uncovered and shared with the general public. Unfortunately, the shortage of research professionals is not the only issue.

Labs are experiencing shortages around the world, too. This pushed a more collaborative approach to research where labs exchange material resources to address the shortages— building cooperation and camaraderie within the industry. Even the everyday person can help improve research on honey’s benefits by supporting products that invest in sustainable and regenerative practices— this helps ease the ongoing shortages.

We’re only beginning to discover the medical benefits of honey, but already, we know that it does the body a lot of good. Further research could reveal even more.

 

Article made only for passthehoney.com

By Nicole Jefferson

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