Bee Pollen: Nature’s Most Perfect Food

| Aug 11, 2017

Those Bees really know how to do it right!  Bee pollen is the pollen ball that has been packed by worker honeybees into pellets.  Bees work hard to created this incredible superfood.

So what’s all the buzz about?

As you probably know, the term superfood should usually be taken with a grain of salt (then again, even salt is considered a superfood in some circles these days). Sometimes superfoods are simply hyped-up, exotic offerings that aren’t actually superior to cheaper, more common foods. But some superfoods are the real deal…and bee pollen is one of them.

It turns out that this unique superfood does live up to the hype. In fact, it may just be one of nature’s most complete and nutrient-dense foods, and a growing body of research demonstrates that it offers a bevy of health benefits. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why bee pollen is worth your attention, as well as some points you should consider when taking it.

Exceptional nutrient density. We’ve harped on the primary importance of nutrient-dense food in other articles. This is perhaps the first cardinal rule of optimal nutrition: eat lots of foods with high levels of varied nutrients. By orienting your diet around this principle, you’ll automatically shy away from all the foods that aren’t doing any good for your health (which are usually just empty calories).

In this regard, bee pollen definitely makes the cut as a food to be included in a nutrient-dense diet. Bee Pollen contains nearly every nutrient that humans need: every type of free amino acid (which means it’s an unparalleled source of directly usable protein), lots of B vitamins, healthy carbohydrates and fats, and powerful antioxidant phytonutrients like carotenoids and polyphenols.

Powerful antioxidant capacity. The phytonutrients mentioned above are one secret behind the health benefits of bee pollen. After nutrient density, antioxidant capacity is perhaps the next most important quality you should look for in food. Because the vast majority of prevalent diseases and conditions are associated with excess oxidative stress in the body, antioxidants are a critical tool for preventing (and even overcoming) illness. Many health experts believe that quelling oxidative stress could even be the key to slowing down the aging process.

Studies have demonstrated that bee pollen protects the body against the free radicals created through oxidative stress, even when acute toxins like pesticides[1] and chemotherapy drugs[2] are introduced into the system.

Here’s where it gets interesting: while scientists have identified many antioxidant compounds in bee pollen, such as quercetin, phenolic acids, and flavonoids, its protective mechanism can’t quite be boiled down to isolated chemicals. Researchers discovered that the levels of individual antioxidants vary widely across different bee pollen samples, and yet, nearly all species of bee pollen had the same overall capacity to ward off oxidative stress.[3] They hypothesize that there’s a synergy between the various enzymes, polyphenols, and other constituents—namely, that bee pollen is greater than the sum of its parts!

Powerful protection against disease. Given the abundance of nutrients and antioxidants found in bee pollen, it’s no wonder that it helps ward off disease. Research has revealed that antioxidant activity is only the beginning of the story, though. Studies have demonstrated that bee pollen is also powerfully anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-microbial, and even anti-viral.[4] It is effective against a variety of bacteria, and even fights off influenza.[5]

Bee pollen has also been shown to combat cancer,[6] normalize cholesterol, correct female infertility by stimulating ovarian function, combat fatigue, improve athletic performance, and aid weight loss. These are some of the many reasons that bee pollen is often called one of nature’s most perfect foods.

Natural relief from allergies. We’ve saved this one for last, because this is the benefit about which you’ve probably heard. This shouldn’t make the allergy-relieving properties of bee pollen any less amazing, though.

Both research and anecdotal evidence has shown time and time again that daily supplementation with bee pollen works wonders for allergies, especially if you begin your regimen well in advance of allergy season. Best of all, bee pollen doesn’t carry any side effects, and doesn’t inhibit immune function like antihistamines—instead, it works on other aspects of your biochemistry associated with allergic response, such as mast cells[7] and basophils.[8]

Seek out local bee pollen if at all possible, as it’s more likely to contain the plant particulates against which you’re trying to gain immunity.

Getting started with bee pollen

If you’re ready to experience the benefits discussed above, pick up some bee pollen from a trusted health food or grocery store. Just remember that it’s usually best if you can find pollen made from a local bee species, especially if you’re taking it to calm your allergies.

A word to the wise, though: bee pollen is a seriously therapeutic superfood, and thus it’s possible for it to interact with certain pharmaceuticals and other medications. Always check with your doctor before starting a bee pollen regimen.

Even if you’re not taking any medications, many superfood enthusiasts recommend starting with a very low dose (only one or two granules, dissolved under the tongue) to gauge how your body reacts to it. Once you’ve established that it feels like a good fit, you can slowly work your way up to a standard daily dose (1-2 heaping teaspoons of raw granules).

 


References 

[1] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0147651308001796

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23677589

[3] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814605008617

[4] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691513007552

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26848705

[6] https://www.spandidos-publications.com/10.3892/mmr.2013.1382

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18361733

[8] http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/19/7/10635

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