I hate to be dramatic, but if the rumors are true and the bee population of the world is diminishing, we are going to find ourselves in a bit of a pickle. Not only will the environment cop a beating and our food supply be threatened as a result of having no bees around to pollinate nature, but their absence will also mean the absence of bee products. This will put a major dent in the world of superfoods. When I went to see superfood expert David Wolfe recently he said that bee products should be at the top of the list of superfoods we add to our diet. Raw honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis -- these are all products brought to us courtesy of our bumbling friends that we need to be aware of. Here's why:
Raw honey: Raw honey -- which has not been pasteurized or filtered, and ideally taken directly from the hive -- is a treasure chest of nutritional value and medicinal remedies. It contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals and is a natural and powerful medicine, both internally and externally. Honey is effective in the treatment of colds, flu, respiratory infections and a generally depressed immune system. While sugar shuts down the immune system, a good quality honey will stimulate it into action, making it a great substitute.
Honey also increases calcium absorption, increases haemoglobin count and treats and prevents anaemia caused by nutritional factors, can help to boost gastrointestinal ulcer healing, works as a natural and gentle laxative and aids constipation, allergies and obesity, is exceptionally effective internally against bacteria and parasites and supplies instant energy without the insulin surge caused by white sugar. One or two teaspoons of honey last thing at night can also help with insomnia.
Bee pollen: Touted as "nature's fountain of youth", bee pollen has been used for thousands of years, in early Egyptian and Chinese civilizations and also by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, 2500 years ago.
One of the most amazing things about bee pollen is that it contains all of the nutrients that you need to live. Bee pollen is made up of 55% carbohydrates, 35% protein, 3% vitamins and minerals, 2% fatty acids, and 5% other substances. It also contains 14.2% fiber. Bee pollen contains 5 to 7 times the amino acids found in equal weights of beef, milk, eggs or cheese. It is also very high in Vitamin B-complex, which is needed in order to help the body function correctly, and several antioxidants including lycopene, selenium, beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It also contains lecithin, which has been shown to normalize cholesterol and triglycerides, and it decreases LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increases HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
Bee pollen is also great for your immune system, your skin, allergies, depression, digestion, fertility, weight loss, energy, normalizing blood glucose levels, menstrual cramps and anti-aging.
Bee pollen looks like tiny yellow, tan, orange, and brown balls. The taste can vary depending on what type of plant it comes from. It can be bitter or can have a sweet, nutty flavor. Take 1 teaspoon of bee pollen daily. You can add it to smoothies or sprinkle it on your breakfast.
Royal jelly: Regarded as "the fountain of youth and beauty", royal jelly is a thick milky substance synthesized from the combination of pollen and honey within the bodies of a special group of young nurse bees. It is the only determining factor in the development of a queen bee from and ordinary bee.
This highly coveted superfood contains B5 and other B vitamins plus amino acids, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, and manganese. With such an impressive nutritional profile, royal jelly is widely touted for its vitality and energy promoting properties. Royal jelly also rejuvenates and regenerates the body, inhibits the ageing process, helps maintain skin tone, alleviates arthritis pain, acts as an antidepressant, helps those suffering from Alzheimer's disease, enhances our ability to think clearly, treats hormonal imbalances and promotes a healthy heart.
Royal jelly is extremely potent and you only need about half a teaspoon each day to reap its many benefits and receive adequate B vitamins. You can eat it straight off the spoon or add it to honey as a spread.
Propolis: The benefits of propolis date back to biblical times. Back then, Jesus and his homeboys referred to it as myrrh and it was highly prized for its medicinal properties. Our clever bee friends created propolis by gathering the sticky resin from tree buds and bark. They then took it back to their crowded hive and used it to prevent diseases by applying it as varnish on the cells of honeycomb, as a glue to seal up cracks, and to create doorways.
The bioflavonoids in propolis have powerful antibiotic, antifungal, and antibacterial effects. It is also a rich source of minerals, amino acids, fats, vitamins C and E, provitamin A, and B-complex.
Propolis extracts can be added to water, or droppered directly into the mouth. This will improve the immune system, especially during the onset of the flu or throat infection. You can also buy propolis eye drops, which are used to replace conventional eye drops.