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Can Honey Be Therapeutic For the Elderly?

22 September, 2020

, Diet

While a few of the ageing issues cannot be prevented or reversed, many of them are linked to the diet and way of life within our control. These issues can be prevented or delayed by following a healthy and principled life, that also extends to the daily diet. Many people experience health conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, heart issues, bone issues, hearing issues and so on, as they age. Dementia is another serious issue that troubles the senior population. 

These are apart from the common everyday issues of chewing, digestion, bowel movements, ulcers, inflammations, and joint pains, etc. With changing seasons, we also have respiratory issues and the common cold, cough, and flu thrown in as well. Interestingly, honey is being explored as a therapeutic food to counter many of these senior health issues in the West currently. 

But, for us in India, honey is a common food item found in most kitchens and part of many home remedies. While many of the medicinal properties of honey have been proved scientifically, a few of the uses that we Indians put it to are still under study. But, Ayurveda does use honey in many of its preparations. Moreover, honey is being touted as a healthy substitute for sugar by fitness experts and is also vouched for, by the weight-loss proponents. 

There is no doubt that sweet in any form, in excess is not good for the health! However, natural or raw honey has the health benefits that does make it better than sugar. Processed honey may not provide you with all the benefits that raw honey can. Honey is the only thing that does not spoil and it has a lot to do with its composition. 

High in antioxidants

It is antioxidants that help our body fight a lot of infections and diseases, including serious ones like cancer. This is why a healthy and balanced diet is one that includes food items that provide a lot of antioxidants. Honey happens to be one such food item which is high in antioxidants. These can help prevent heart attacks, certain cancers, strokes, etc. Honey contains flavonoids, phenolic acids, glucose oxidase, and amino acids, all of which are therapeutic in helping seniors fight many chronic conditions. 

The beauty of using honey as a sweetener instead of sugar is that you could use less of honey to get more sweetness, and in a healthier way than using sugar. Sugar does not provide any health benefits as such, and would also give you health issues in the long run. This is why honey could work as a substitute for sugar, especially for the seniors. 

Stimulates memory

It’s been proved scientifically that honey can stimulate memory and prevent cognitive decline in the ageing population. Since this is one of the main concerns for the seniors, consumption of honey can help them counter this issue. Honey does this by reducing the oxidative stress because of the various components in it. The polyphenols in honey not just restore the cellular antioxidants, but also help improve memory deficits at the molecular level. 

Research has also established that consumption of honey helps reduce anxiety and this can, in turn, help with a lot of things. Anxiety is a major cause of many other issues that develop in older age. 

Lowers blood pressure 

Most heart issues that develop as we age are linked to blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Honey has been known to lower the blood pressure as well as improve the good cholesterol (HDL) levels in the body and also reduce the bad cholesterol levels. It improves the lipid metabolism on regular consumption so that overall the cardiovascular health stays good.

Digestion aid

Raw honey is a good digestion aid as it contains enzymes that help digest the food faster, especially the carbs and sugars. Honey has been traditionally used to treat gastrointestinal ulcers and stomach issues. A spoonful of honey in warm water is a well-known home remedy used in many Indian homes. This is because honey has anti-bacterial properties and is also a rich source of probiotics that is good for gut health. 

Immunity booster

In current times, we need natural immunity boosters that can protect us from diseases and avoid hospital visits. Honey is a wonderful food that can help us achieve this, as proved by certain studies. It is said a glass of warm water with lemon juice and honey is a good detoxification aid when taken first thing in the morning. Besides, honey also contains good amounts of iron, calcium and magnesium, all of which are beneficial. However, while raw honey is extremely good for health, processing removes all the good nutrients from it.

How to consume?

Honey can be used to sweeten your beverages, or used in your breakfast cereals. You could simply take it with a glass of warm water, as mentioned above. You may use it as a sprinkler on top of salads and toasts if you like. If you have been asked to avoid sugar totally, then using honey also may not be good, as it is sweet. But, if you feel tempted to use sugar, use honey in that place, and it will be healthier. And it is to be taken in moderation; one or two teaspoons per day should be all that is required to take in the goodness of the honey.

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