I received an email from a client recently who asked me my opinion of using honey as a sweetener instead of table sugar or some artificial sweetener.
While Iâ€™m always going to say go with the natural food over anything processed or refined, the subject of honey is a little tricky.
You see thereâ€™s quite a big difference between the honey youâ€™d pick up at the local grocery store and honey in its natural, raw form. I figured Iâ€™d do a blog post on this to share with you the differences.
For starters, let me come right out and say Iâ€™m not a big proponent of using the typical clear honey youâ€™d pick up at the grocery store. This is not how youâ€™d find honey in nature. The only way to get honey to be that perfectly clear is to heat and filter it over and over again.
The REAL reason commercial honey is pasteurized…
Typical commercial honey is pasteurized but not for the reason youâ€™d expect. When you think about something being pasteurized (like milk for example) itâ€™s done to destroy bacteria. This isnâ€™t the case with honey. The main reason honey is pasteurized is to liquefy it and give it longer shelf life.
The problem with this is the heating and pasteurizing destroys the beneficial enzymes that help us to digest honey and assimilate all the nutrients.
Raw honey on the other hand is filtered but not heated at high temperatures so it retains the pollen granules, bee propolis, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes the way nature intended.
Raw honey will granulate and start to become solid after a month or two but can be brought back to a liquid state by simply placing the container in a pot of warm water. While youâ€™ll have to do a little searching to find raw honey itâ€™s well worth the effort.
Is raw honey really a superfood?
From what Iâ€™ve read and the research Iâ€™ve looked at raw honey is without question a bona-fide superfood. It has strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties which can be very beneficial to your digestive tract and overall health.
Raw honey is NOT the same as table sugar…
A lot of people mistakenly believe that since honey contains sugar it must be bad for you. This just isnâ€™t the case. Itâ€™s important to understand that not all sugars are created equal and act the same way in your body.
Raw honey in its natural state contain fructose and glucose which are easily assimilated in the body. These are naturally occurring monosaccharides which the cells can readily use for energy.
Table sugar on the other hand is a disaccharide (sucrose) which needs to be broken down to glucose before the body can use it for energy. This process creates an acidic state in the body and typically results in an insulin spike.
Raw honey as an alkaline forming food…
The key thing here is raw honey is an alkaline forming food, similar in nature to nutrients found in fruit which become alkaline in the digestive system. Raw honey does NOT ferment in the GI tract like processed sugars and starches can.
Iâ€™ve read numerous accounts from the old time health gurus recommending a concoction of lemon juice, water, and raw honey as a superfood drink to start your morning. Not only does this provide numerous benefits for the GI tract but itâ€™s also very helpful in creating an alkaline state in the body.
Raw honey and optimal health…
Taking steps to maintain a healthy digestive tract is one of the most important things an individual can do to help reduce inflammation. When your GI tract is functioning properly youâ€™ll assimilate nutrients better, have improved digestion and elimination, and also free up the internal organs from dealing with excess metabolic waste and toxins.
Don’t give raw honey to babies…
On a side note, while thereâ€™s no question in my book that raw honey is a true superfood, you donâ€™t want to give it to babies. Raw honey contains Clostridium botulinum spores which can cause botulism in babies. Their sensitive digestive tracts simply arenâ€™t ready to handle it.
When looking for raw honey youâ€™ll notice it to be dark in color. Read the label carefully to make sure youâ€™re getting the real deal. Itâ€™s also beneficial to choose organic raw honey when possible to avoid the pesticides and harmful chemicals.
I hope this helped clarify the differences in honey along with natural sugar versus processed and refined sugar.
Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. With a staff of over 10 certified fitness professionals, Shaping Concepts provides personal fitness training in Charleston with a specialty on weight loss and body transformation. You can receive a FREE, no-obligations (2) session personal training trial and consultation to experience the difference for yourself.