As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” When it comes to health benefits, products from the hive are one of the simplest, yet most powerful way to protect your body. Humans have benefited from bees and their nourishing superfoods since prehistoric times. Bees produce products like honey, pollen and propolis that are loaded with minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. These products have a variety of functions to support optimal health; from improving sleep quality, to boosting energy and strengthening the immune system. They also pollinate approximately a third of the crops we eat, including strawberries, lemon, coconut and coffee.
When purchasing honey, pollen and propolis, look for high quality products from sustainable apiaries. These products contain therapeutic properties, so high quality means high potency – this way you’ll reap the most benefits. Honey bees are an essential member of the community and are quickly becoming extinct; they face numerous threats, many of which are caused by humans, like the use of pesticides. Their population needs protection more than ever, so research your local apiarists to ensure they follow safe beekeeping practices before purchasing their product.
How to Incorporate Bee Products into Your Daily Routine
Bee pollen can be used as a natural way to fight allergies. I used to suffer from severe seasonal allergies until I incorporated bee pollen into my daily routine. I was turned off by the idea of using drugstore products because they’re not overly effective and I’d rather not use a pharmaceutical product if I don’t have to. After hearing about bee pollen’s allergy-fighting benefits, I supplemented with it daily throughout one winter. Come spring I didn’t have any allergic reactions – I was amazed! For years I was plagued with watery eyes, an itchy throat and excessive sneezing. Those days are long gone. Now pollen is a part of my daily routine.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, I recommend you start supplementing with pollen; use it consistently and within a few months you should begin to see results. Pro tip: You can use either bee pollen or raw honey, just ensure that it’s local. Local bees pollinate with the flowers in your area, so you want to build your immunity to the pollen that triggers the allergic response.
Bee pollen has antifungal, antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, which means it can be used for a ton of health reasons; it can reduce inflammation, relieve menopausal symptoms and combat stress. My favourite way to eat it is in my morning smoothie or just eat straight off a spoon with almond butter.
Propolis is a resinous substance produced by honeybees by combining their own saliva and beeswax with other substances collected from tree buds and other botanical sources. Bees use propolis in the construction and repair of their hives as a protective barrier from external invaders.
Propolis is nature’s antibiotic; it’s a therapeutic substance that has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it an excellent choice to fight the common cold. Many individuals suffer from a sore throat, cough or inflammation during seasonal transitions; a propolis spray can be used to boost the immune system to avoid any negative symptoms. The immune system can also be compromised during increased periods of stress or intense physical activity, so consider using propolis for the maintenance of good health. It can also be used to treat candida symptoms and fight parasites.
Honey will taste differently depending on which plants the bees used to pollinate. I like wildflower honey because it tends to be less sweet with light floral undertones. Honey contains naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and enzymes – it’s actually so high in enzymes it never goes bad. Raw honey can help fight against seasonal allergies, promote restorative sleep and can reduce the risk of diabetes.
Look for raw, unpasteurized honey – this variety contains the most health benefits, since heating destroys its beneficial enzymes by changing its composition. Raw honey often contains both pollen and propolis, so you get the benefit of all three products in one. (But obviously, not for infants.)
I like to drizzle it on toast and yogurt or use it in raw desserts. Check out this article for the amazing benefits of combining cinnamon and raw honey. It’s a great option for a whole food sweetener if you’re looking for an alternative to refined, white sugar. Bee products can be used as both food and medicine. Especially with spring on its way, I highly recommend looking for new ways to incorporate them into your routine to nourish your body and promote good health.
For more healthy inspiration, including delicious recipes, be sure to follow me on my Instagram Account. I’m so excited for you to join in on all of my #DoTheDaniel adventures in Ottawa!
With love & gratitude,
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Photos by Hannah Rauhanen, CNP