Can Honey Boost Your Brain?
Honey, traditionally, has many health benefits. It has natural antimicrobial properties and can help to treat wounds and burns. But can honey actually make you smarter? Sounds far-fetched doesn’t it, given that sugar is supposed to slow down the brain? But studies prove otherwise. Let us see how.
The Magical Antioxidant - Pinocembrin
Antioxidants are found in many different foods, mainly fruits, and vegetables. They help to protect the body against disease and inflammation and boost the immune system.
The secret to honey’s brain-boosting potential is in an antioxidant called pinocembrin. Pinocembrin is an antioxidant flavonoid that improves brain function. Pinocembrin has been known to have properties that protect the brain and nerve cells from damage. Recent studies are showing a positive effect of the consumption of honey on patients of strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Pinocembrin also has anti-inflammatory properties. An anti-inflammatory agent works to reduce the amount of inflammation in the body. Essentially, inflammation is a good thing. It’s a sign that our immune system is working to keep us healthy. But we can only have so much of a good thing.
Chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It can also lead to degenerative brain conditions such as dementia. Pinocembrin has demonstrated an ability to target the inflammation of brain cells especially hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory.
Not only does honey appear to support neurogenesis, but it decreased the number of degenerated cells in the hippocampal CA1 region of the brain. The hippocampus plays an important role in the consolidation of information from short and long term memory to spatial navigation and is a region of the brain that is known to be highly susceptible to free radical damage. Free radical damage or 'oxidation' is one of the causes of Alzheimer's disease and Dementia with the hippocampus being one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage.
Can Honey Really Make Us Smarter?
So, honey can have a beneficial effect on the health of our brains as we age. But another interesting area of research is the relationship between honey and how smart we are.
Cognition is a measure of how well we learn new things through thinking, experiencing and sensing things in our environment. Studies have found that pinocembrin can enhance cognition by protecting brain cell structure. So far, these studies have only been on animals but science is looking promising.
Raw honey possesses nootropic effects, such as memory-enhancing effects, as well as neuropharmacological activities, such as anxiolytic, antinociceptive, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant activities. The antioxidants in honey are known to help improve our memory too. They do this by counteracting the effects of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals stressing the cells of the body. Reducing oxidative stress helps to improve memory and retain information more effectively.
We've been brainwashed to believe that only expensive pharmaceutical drugs or therapies can boost memory, reduce anxiety or stimulate new brain cell growth.
In one study involving postmenopausal women, those who received honey showed improvements in their immediate memory, which is something we could all use.
How does honey boost brainpower?
At this point, you are likely wondering just how raw honey does these seemingly magical things in our brains. The answer is quite simple. Raw honey contains compounds with very powerful properties.
Apigenin is a common flavonoid that is frequently identified in honey. It has been suggested that apigenin may have neuroprotective and disease-modifying properties in several types of neurodegenerative disorders. It is also known that apigenin stimulates the adult neurogenesis that underlies learning and memory.
Caffeic acid, another important antioxidant, is a type of phenolic acid that is present in honey and has demonstrated neuroprotective effects on brain cells.
Catechin is a flavonoid that contributes to the antioxidant activities of honey and several studies have repeatedly demonstrated its protective effects on neural cells.
Quercetin is another flavonoid with antioxidant activity that is commonly found in honey. One study demonstrated that quercetin can inhibit free radical damage as well as brain cell death caused by free radicals. These, besides pinocembrin, enhance brainpower.
Honey contains numerous other compounds that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. While it may take years for the world to recognize that better brain health awaits them in their pantry, you should begin today to consume a healthy serving of honey every day for better memory, healthier aging, and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.