How is organic honey produced? What makes it different from – and more beneficial than – conventional honey?
In this post we explore a foodstuff that has been treasured by humanity since the Stone Age: honey. How is organic honey produced? And what are the differences between organic honey and conventional honey? These are some of the questions we will look into. Keep reading to find out more about this elixir of life.
There are depictions of honey being harvested on rock art dating from around 8000 BC. Remains of beeswax have been found in ceramics dating back to 7000 BC. The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese all traditionally used honey as an ointment for wounds, or to treat fevers and stomach ailments. But before we go too deeply into what the medical world says about honey, let’s go back to basics.
What is honey?
Honey starts as flower nectar collected by bees, which gets broken down into simple sugars stored inside the honeycomb. The design of the honeycomb and constant fanning of the bees’ wings causes evaporation, creating sweet liquid honey.
What are the properties of honey?
The main minerals in honey are calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, phosphorous, copper, iron and potassium. Honey also contains around half of the existing amino acids, organic acids (acetic acid, citric acid, among others) and B, C, D and E vitamins. In addition, honey has a considerable variety of antioxidants (flavonoids and phenolics).
Differences between organic and conventional honey
For honey to be considered organic it must have been obtained from flowers from certified fields that meet strict requirements in accordance with organic beekeeping protocols. These requirements have to do with the environment and with periodic controls that producers must comply with so that their final product can be classed as “certified organic honey”.
A worker bee can fly over 3km. Therefore, although a bee won’t normally travel more than 1km from its hive, areas where hives are located should be free of chemically treated crops within a 3km radius. The area must also be located far from intensive crops and/or urban areas. Both these factors prevent contamination of flower nectar.
Hives must be made of wood and painted with organic vegetable oils. Honey extraction should be carried out at the same temperature as the hive in order to preserve the most delicate aromas and flavors.
Choosing organic honey means choosing to maintain biodiversity. Organic production hives are a great model of sustainable production because they respect the environment and facilitate pollination.
What are the benefits of honey?
Many people talk about the benefits of honey in helping prevent diseases of the immune system, heart and inflammatory processes. As we have said, honey is a natural source of antioxidants, which help slow cellular breakdown.
What about the physiological benefits of honey? Dr. Ron Fessenden, retired physician and president of the Committee for Honey and Health in the United States, gave a report at one of his conferences about the properties of honey in the regulation of sugar in blood, the reduction of metabolic stress, and sleep recovery.
Regulation of blood sugar
The balance between fructose and glucose in honey enables the glucose to be taken up by the liver to form glycogen, which then becomes available to the brain, heart, kidneys, and red blood cells. As a result of this process, the functioning of essential organs and tissues is improved, glucose is eliminated from circulation and blood sugar is reduced.
Reduction of metabolic stress
Metabolic stress is one of the organic processes that lead to muscle hypertrophy. Any type of stress – be it emotional, psychological or physiological – translates to metabolic stress in the body. One function of the adrenal gland is to produce adrenaline and cortisol, which stimulate the breakdown of muscle protein into amino acids to make new sugars.
One of the effects of natural honey in our body is that it produces glycogen in the liver, which prevents the release of stress hormones if – for example – we consume honey for breakfast, before bed, or at regular intervals during the day (especially before and after exercise).
In short, honey is the ideal energy reserve the brain needs for its normal functioning.
More balanced sleep
The light secretion of insulin that results from the natural sugar in honey enables tryptophan – an essential amino acid in human nutrition – to enter the brain more easily, thus allowing the secretion of melatonin, a very important hormone in the daily regulation of the sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin also regulates heart rhythms, helping improve immunity and facilitating the reconstruction of tissues during the night.
Help for the treatment of constipation
Honey has a mild laxative effect thanks to its high content of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which has a primarily energetic function similar to fiber.
We hope this article has helped you learn a little more about organic honey and its benefits for human health and the environment. If you’d like to receive more information about certified organic products, don’t hesitate to contact us.