What are the benefits of bee pollen, and why is it so healthy? Bee pollen is a complete food. It is possible to live on it alone! But it’s no wonder considering that pollen is the only source of protein, starch, fat, vitamins, and minerals in a bee colony’s diet. By weight, pollen has more protein than beef. And it’s a superfood for us too!
How is bee pollen made into such a perfect food?
The relationship between honey bees and flowers is a beautiful, harmonious dance. The honey bees come into contact with flower pollen whenever they go looking for the nectar of the flower. For the flower to have successful pollination (which is how they reproduce), a honey bee receives pollen from the male flower and shares it with the female flower. Bees have thousands of little multibranched hairs that capture, attract, and hold these pollens. The foraging bees carry them home packed in a little pollen basket on their hind legs, transferring to and collecting from different flowers as they travel.
A colony will collect nectar and pollen from thousands of plants daily, and from hundreds of different plant species in a season. Every plant’s pollen has a distinct shape, color, and even nutritional value– a wonderful miracle of nature. It is because of this diversity that bee pollen has such a balance of the essential nutrients, including the 22 amino acids to make it a complete protein, needed for health. There are also dozens of vitamins and minerals, natural hormones, and important fatty acids.
In addition, bees package their pollen with nectar and enzymes that help it develop into a powerful superfood. In fact, bee pollen contains thousands of enzymes and co-enzymes which are necessary for vital health in the body and mind.
Though knowledge in the West of the powerful health benefits has been lost, for centuries bee pollen has been used by people to treat many ailments, including:
- Indigestion, diarrhea, constipation and other digestive issues
- Low energy and fatigue
- Skin conditions such as acne
- Sexual problems
- Rheumatism and arthritis
This may be because bee pollen is negatively charged, making it alkaline in the body. Alkaline foods helps to improve the body’s PH balance so that it is able to heal many of the problems above that are associated with too much acidity or toxic waste buildup.
Bee pollen is used for improving the health of the heart, prostate, immune system and nervous system; preventing aging with a major dose of antioxidants; improving energy (from the essential proteins) and assisting weight loss; and correcting hormone imbalance.
Another proven benefit is the ability of bee pollen to improve allergies. By subtly, but internally, exposing your immune system to the pollens of the season in the form of honey or bee pollen from local, fresh sources in your area, you prevent the normal allergic reaction or immune response. Instead of attacking these pollens, you have introduced them to your body for that pollen season in a way that your immune system can see them and label them as non-harmful. It is only when your immune system sees pollen as an outside invader, attacking it, that causes allergy symptoms to appear.
Both honey rich in pollen and bee pollen alone have these potential health benefits.
How to take bee pollen:
Bee pollen taken in granule form is ideal, but it can be taken in capsules or tablets. Proceed with care and start with only two or three granules per day to make sure you do not have a reaction. Slowly increase dosage to about 1/4 of a teaspoon two to three times a day. Pure, raw honey is also an excellent, natural source of bee pollen, and you can add this into your diet quite simply with a tablespoon or so per serving.
Note: Those with a history of anaphylactic reactions should avoid bee pollen.
A few things to keep in mind when choosing the right bee pollen supplement:
- It is best to get bee pollen from your local farmer’s market or local beekeepers to ensure freshness. You can learn first hand where the bee hives are located and see if it might help your immune system for allergy season.
- Raw bee pollen undisturbed by heat processing will have the most valuable nutrients and enzymes left.
- Color variation is good because it means the pollen comes from a variety of sources and thus has a broader range of nutrients.
- When looking online, read reviews, looking for those that came from pesticide-free flowers and that store and ship the products properly (cold if temperature sensitive or perishable in heat).
A note on recent events among the bee population:
It is important to support the bees and be educated about the disappearing and death of millions of bee colonies every year. Not only does our health depend on it, but our entire food system. Recent evidence suggests a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids were the culprit. In addition, the destruction and fragmentation of bee habitats due to land development and monoculture agriculture, has deprived pollinators of their diverse natural food supply. This has already led to the extinction of a number of wild bee species. And the planting of genetically modified organism (GMO) crops – some of which now contain toxic insecticides within their genetic structure – may also be responsible.
Bees won’t survive for long if we don’t support a healthy, balanced environment. Continuing to go organic, local, and staying green can all help. Growing gardens with variety at your own home, without the use of pesticides helps too! And of course, continuing to support those farmers who help the bee population every year to grow.
Sources: “The Backyard Beekeeper” by Kim Flottum, Mystery of the Disappearing Bees: Solved“by Reuters
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