As a cancer patient you probably already know that cancer loves sugar. Sugar is a cancer cells primary and preferential fuel source so it makes sense to limit sugar in the diet, but what about honey?
Honey, Natures Oldest Health Food
The love affair with honey goes back as far as 8,000 years ago with the discovery of cave paintings in Spain depicting honey harvesting. The first written reference to honey is found in 4,000 year old Sumerian tablets. Honey was the primary sweetener consumed by humans up until the early 1800’s before the introduction of sugar cane derived “sugar”.
Honey is a whole food, while sucrose is not, it is an isolate derived from a plant. How your body responds to a whole food is entirely different than an isolate.
Honey is composed of an equally complex array of compounds, many of which are well-known (including macronutrients and micronutrients, enzymes, probiotics and prebiotics, etc.), others whose role is still a complete mystery. The sugar in honey is a complex mixture of the monosacharrides (one-sugars) glucose and fructose, and at least 25 different oligosaccharides (a complex of sugars). If you were to isolate out the sugars in honey you would have the same problems we see with our “white sugar” derived from plants. What makes honey such a wonderful whole food is we leave it in its natural state, unprocessed and unrefined, and we don’t have the same response in the body.
If you still skeptical about the difference between honey and sugar there are plenty of clinical research articles to confirm the difference. Here is a great one.
Got a Sweet Tooth You Can’t Squash?
Even though you know you shouldn’t be eating sugar we all have a “craving” occasionally for something sweet. Unfortunately, we have an abundance of unhealthy things to pick from, and everywhere you turn they are staring you in the face!
So why choose honey to kick your craving? Because, as I mentioned before, it’s more than a sugar molecule, it’s also loaded with health promoting substances.
A study published in the Journal of Medical Food in 2004, which compared honey to dextrose and sucrose, found that natural honey was capable of lowering plasma glucose, C-reative protein (inflammation), homocysteine in healthy, diabetic and hyperlipidemic (high cholesterol) subjects.
Honey is found to have enzymes, probiotics and if it’s local, it will pick up local pollen which will “immunize” your immune system to local allergens. Honey also rich in “prebiotics” which help make a good growing environment in your gut for the good bacteria. In fact, recently it was discovered that there is a diverse and ancient set of beneficial lactic acid bacteria within the honeybee gut. Further investigation of these strains indicated that the association between these bees and the bacteria are at least 80 million years old! Consuming raw honey therefore impacts the bacteria in your gut reconnecting you to the ancient symbiotic relationship with flora that in our modern, sterilized, pasteurized, irradiated, poisoned, cooked, and bleached world, are all but eradicated from our environment, soil, food, and therefore bodies.
This is why it’s so important to consume RAW honey and local if possible.
Can Honey Kill Cancer?
There are many plant foods that are powerful cancer preventives and even plants that can effectively kill cancer cells, but honey is rarely mentioned.
Indeed, a study published in the journal Molecules looked at the role of honey in positively impacting the development and progression of tumors or cancers. The review identified the presence of flavonoids and phenolic acids in honey as the primary anti-cancer compounds involved in its beneficial properties.
While many of these honey-derived flavonoids have been demonstrated to have both inhibitory and stimulatory effects, the vast majority of the cell (in vitro) and animal (in vivo) studies have demonstrated the anti-breast and estrogen sensitive cancer properties of these compounds, indicating that flavonoid rich honeys are likely to positively influence estrogenic activity in estrogen-receptor positive cancers.
Furthermore, some honeys – such as Tualang honey – exhibit the property of selective cytotoxicity, meaning they target cancer cells by inducing programmed cell death while leaving non-cancerous cells unharmed. How cool is that???
Another recent study compared the effect of Tualang honey with that of the pharmaceutical tamoxifen (an estrogen receptor antagonist). The study found that the anti-cancer effect of Tualang honey on breast cancer cells was comparable to that of tamoxifen, a multi-billion dollar blockbuster drug! This is remarkable considering that Tamoxifin is classified by the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society as a human carcinogen and is technically a xenobiotic chemical – inherently toxic and biologically alien to human physiology.
Different types of honey have effects on different types of cancer. As an example, Gelam honey has been found to kill liver cancer cells and Greek honeys (thyme, pine and fir honey) have been found to exhibit anti-proliferative properties in prostate cancer.
A Yummy Honey Dessert
All this talk about honey has made me hungry for some! My favorite way to eat honey is in green tea. If I have a sugar craving putting a tablespoon of honey in a cup of green tea usually does the trick. But if I’m really craving a dessert my go to is Chia Pudding, try this recipe out and you’ll be getting the benefits of honey and Chia seeds!
Chia Parfait Pudding
6 Tablespoons Organic Chia Seeds
2 cups Unsweetened Coconut Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
6 teaspoons raw honey
1/4 teaspoon of maple flavoring (optional)
Fresh blueberries, raspberries and Organic strawberries
- In medium bowl whisk together chia seeds, coconut milk, vanilla and honey and maple flavoring. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Serve thickened pudding in parfait glasses alternating with layers of berries. Top with chopped walnuts if desired.
These Medicinal Plants Put Breaks on Cancer Growth,
Erejuwa, O.O.; Sulaiman, S.A.; Wahab, M.S.A. Effects of Honey and Its Mechanisms of Action on the Development and Progression of Cancer. Molecules 2014, 19, 2497-2522.
Ahmed S, Othman NH. The anti-cancer effects of Tualang honey in modulating breast carcinogenesis: an experimental animal study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017;17(1):208. Published 2017 Apr 11. doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1721-4
Tamoxifin Praised as “Life Saving” But Still Causing Cancer, https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/tamoxifen-praised-life-saving-still-causing-cancer
About the Author: Chris McKee
Chris McKee is a Certified Nutritionist and Certified Diet Counselor with over 30 years of experience in whole-food cooking, healthy lifestyle coaching, individual nutritional counseling and speaking to 1,000’s of people about the role of good nutrition in preventing disease.
Chris is also a Certified Nutragenomix practitioner and this allows her to look deep into your genetic profile and personalize your nutrition program based on your unique genetic fingerprint.
She runs on-line courses including her 10 Day Clean Eating Challenge, 21 Days Prepping for the Keto Diet as well as her Hope 4 Cancer Recovery program.
Chris and her husband Ed love to travel, hence the name “The Nomadic Nutritionist”. She is a grandmother of four and a great-grandma of two! She loves to cook, explore new food finds, hike and fish.
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