If you keep up-to-date on the latest diet crazes, you may be hearing about bee pollen more and more often, and for good reasons. Unlike some food fads, bee pollen is truly a super food that that should, and certainly needs to stick around.
While it may sound a bit crazy at first, bee pollen is precisely what the name implies – pollen collected from bees. The process starts when bees collect pollen from a variety of plants, mixing the collected pollen with their nectar. They then store this nectar in their hind legs, bringing it back to their hive and packing it in the cells of the given honeycomb. This packed pollen is then covered with what is known was “bee bread,” which is a combination of honey and wax that covers the pollen in a thin layer. It is called “bee bread” do to the fact that this mixture is preserved through anaerobic fermentation that occurs in the honeycomb. In turn, this preserved pollen becomes the bee colonies protein source.
What’s the Big Deal?
You may be familiar with the health benefits of consuming raw honey, especially for seasonal allergies. Bee pollen is no different in that it contains a variety of compounds that make it both incredibly nutrient dense and medicinal in nature. With a complex composition of vitamins, macro-nutrients, micronutrients, flavonoids, lipids, and amino acids, more and more studies are proving it has numerous, beneficial effects on the human body.
Benefits of Bee Pollen
When you break down the complex chemical composition of bee pollen, you will find that it is made up of 30% digestible carbohydrates, 26% sugar, 23% protein, essential amino acids included, 5% lipids (essential fatty acids included), 2% phenolic compounds (antioxidants), 1.6% minerals (such as calcium, iron, zinc, selenium), 0.6% water-soluble vitamins and acids (such as the all-important group of B vitamins), and 0.1% fat-soluble vitamins (including A, E and D). With such a diverse nutrient makeup, you may be wondering why this superfood is just now being discovered. In actuality, this nutrient dense food has used in Chinese medicine as both an energy and a nutritive tonic for many decades. It is also used to help regulate the intestinal track, prevent infectious diseases, aid in recovering from a chronic illness, build new, healthy blood, as well as extending overall lifespan and longevity in individuals all throughout different world cultures. According to Russian researchers at the Institute of Apiculture, bee pollen is easily one of “the richest source of vitamins found in nature in a single food.” A study done by Dr. Robinson and published by the USDA found that when cancer bred mice subjected to die were fed a diet of mice chow and bee pollen (ratio 10,000 to 1), those given pollen actually developed their tumors slower or were clear altogether. Pretty impresser huh? As mentioned earlier, bee pollen is similar to raw honey in that it is one of nature’s natural anti-histamines. As discussed in my post on all-things histamine, antbibodies are created to fight against allergens as part of the bodies immune response. Once antibodies are created in response to a given substance (dietary, environmental, etc..), they are able to activate the receptors on cells throughout your body, causing an allergic reaction. Through animal studies, it has been shown that the consumption of bee pollen helps reduce anaphylactic reactions, as well as being an IgE and IgG inhibitor, both antibodies that activate mast cells and thus cause allergic reactions. With all that said, some of the other benefits of bee pollen include reduction of inflammation , protection of the liver against toxicity, immune system support, eased menopausal symptoms, stress, and overall, promotion of healing throughout the human body.
Finding the Right Pollen
Much like any other food, finding bee pollen from a local sources is very important. It is also key to make sure the bees that the pollen is derived from have not been treated with pesticides or other chemicals that will be harmful to both the benefits of the pollen and to you as the consumer. It can be found in both granule form or powder form, though they are essentially the same exact product, just in different form. I personally take granulated bee pollen from a farm not far away here in Nashville, TN. Though you can add it to smoothies or sprinkle it over a salad, I choose to take it straight by eating it off of a spoon so I can gauge my bodies reaction. It is recommended for those with allergies, whether in the form of hay fever or anaphylaxis, and everything inbetween, to work up your dose of bee pollen very slowly (say 2-3 granules at first). Personally, despite having a mast cell activation disorder caused by a primary immunodeficiency, I was able to start with a does of ½ tsp. It has been a few weeks and I am up to 1 tbsp with no issues. Though there is no “limit” per say, to how much one should take per day, 3-4 tbsp is typically considered to be a good amount to aim for.
In the end, bee pollen is incredibly nutritive to the body. With such a healing chemical structure, I could write multiple posts simply discussing all of the benefits being studied. For this reason, I have included a few great resources below, as well as some informative articles linked throughout the text above. In the end, if you haven’t given pollen a chance, there is no better time than now to try!
Disclaimer: I am in no way a registered medical doctor able to diagnose or treat disease. I am simply presenting health information as I have been taught and learned, leaving how one interprets it up to the individual.
Joel 2:23 “Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the Lord your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you— The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month.”