Bee Pollen - Nutritional SuperPower
Anyone who knows me is aware of my fascination with and adoration of anything related to the mighty Bee. I LOVE Honey (the only sweetener I regularly use!), I’m crazy about Propolis (my super immune booster!), I adore Bees Wax (candles!), and am passionate about Royal Jelly. Bee Pollen is another of my favourites, something I consume on a daily basis for its multitude of nutritional benefits.
So… what exactly is Bee Pollen?
Bee Pollen is an extremely nutritional product collected by honeybees, and is the food of the young bee. It is considered a complete food, containing vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fibre, proteins and complex carbohydrates.
Bee Pollen contains:
22 amino acids: including cystine, lysine, histidine, arginine, aspartic acid, threonine, glutamine, proline, glycine, alanine, valine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan
18 vitamins: including complex Bs, folic acid, carotenes, A, C, D, E
25 minerals: barium, boron, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc
59 trace elements, 11 enzymes/co-enzymes, 14 fatty acids & 11 complex carbohydrates
Approximately 25-40 % protein, a super vegetarian source! Weight for weight this is higher than any animal product.
Free amino acids (more than beef, eggs or cheese weight for weight) which are super nourishing as they don’t need to be broken down and are therefore readily available to be used by the body.
Enzymes: helping enhance digestion and absorption of all of the other foods you’re eating.
Some of the benefits that may be attributed to regular ingestion of Bee Pollen include:
Increased Energy/Athletic Performance: Bee pollen contains such a rich diversity of nutrients including Complex Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Minerals, Protein and free Amino Acids, providing the body with all of the nourishment/fuel it needs to perform at optimal levels.
Weight Loss/Management: Bee Pollen may help increase/improve the metabolism, helping increase calorie burning thus facilitating the loss of excess weight. It can help satiate you and regulate your appetite, keeping you from reaching for food. Further, as it is a natural energizer, you will be less likely to reach for food due to fatigue.
Skin/Dermatology: Applied directly to the skin, bee pollen can help to decrease inflammatory and ease the discomfort of common skin irritations like eczema and psoriasis. With ingestion, the amino acids and vitamins may also help protect and regenerate the skin helping form new, healthy skin cells and decrease inflammation.
Immune Support: Bee Pollen nourishes the beneficial flora of the gut thereby helping strengthen and support the immune system. Regularly consuming bee pollen may also help build tolerance to local environmental allergens/pollens, as well as preventing viral infections. Additionally, bee pollen contains antioxidants that can reverse and prevent free radical oxidation.
Allergies & Respiratory Diseases: Bee Pollen reduces the release of Histamine from Mast Cells (part of the allergic cascade) thus reducing reactions to many allergies. The antioxidants also extend a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect to the lungs, sinuses and bronchial tissue.
Digestive Health: Bee pollen is high in enzymes that help your body to break down and assimilate nutrients in foods, so that you get more out of the foods that you eat. The antioxidant an anti-inflammatory effects are powerful in this system as well. And as mentioned above, Bee Pollen nourishes the gut flora which may help normalize bowel movements, decrease gas and bloating and improve energy.
Cardiovascular Health: Rutin, an antioxidant in bee pollen, helps strengthen the capillaries and blood vessels and improve circulation. Consuming bee pollen can also have a positive effect on cholesterol balance, decreasing LDL and increasing HDL levels. Bee pollen may also help decrease blood clotting and may therefore have a role in preventing heart attack.
What is the best way to consume Bee Pollen?
Bee Pollen is a food and is therefore most appropriately taken with meals. Ideally earlier in the day (ie breakfast) as it can be very energizing/stimulating.
To activate the enzymes and increase the availability of the nutrients in Bee Pollen, it is best soaked in water/liquid for 5-15 minutes prior to ingesting. Use either a little water, a smoothie, tea, chia pudding or soup. The Pollen will swell and soften and have a pleasant earthy-sweet taste!
Bee Pollen can be very stimulating to some individuals so it’s best to start small and increase as tolerated. 1/2 tsp daily for a few days then increased by 1/2 tsp at a time to a dose of 1-2 tbsp per day. You can discuss specific amounts/guidelines with your Naturopath or Nutritionist.
A word in defence of Bees & the Environment
Do keep in mind that a working bee has to put in 8 hours/day for a full month just to provide 1 tsp of Pollen. Each Bee Pollen granule contains over 2 million Flower Pollen grains, meaning that 1 tsp contains 2 1/2 billion flower pollen grains.
Remember that one of every three bites of food you eat depends on pollinators, especially bees. In order to ensure successful harvests for the years to come, we need to support and protect our precious Bees.
Bee populations are declining. The numbers have been decreasing by approximately 30% per year since at least 2006 (accurate record keeping wasn't done prior to this time). Major contributors include insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, monoculture farming, contaminated air and water, and possibly climate change. Do your best, eliminate/limit your use of such products and support traditional, organic farming methods to ensure the longevity of these essential animals!