We all have heard from childhood that honey has health benefits. It’s been an effective ingredient for home remedies for thousands of years, dating back to ancient civilizations. Would you be ready to accept that it can be toxic? Here we discuss the benefits of honey and reasons why it can be harmful.
Its quality and composition depend on the health and type of bees, flowers for collecting nectar, climate, and processing procedures. Generally, it is a mixture of water, glucose, fructose, other minor sugars, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. With the increasing demand and the declining bee populations, some manufacturers have resorted to unethical practices to meet the market demand. Furthermore, plastic in storage containers releases plasticizers and phthalates in honey. It has multiple uses and remarkable benefits. It adds natural sweetness to food as a healthier alternative to market sugar. However, its magic goes beyond the diet charts and extends to home remedies for respiratory, skin, and digestive issues.
Toxicity related to honey?
Toxic honey consumption can cause adverse symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, seizures, and even death in some cases. Let us see some reasons for the toxicity.
Honey is highly susceptible to adulterations, which involve the addition of cheap sweeteners such as cane sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose syrup. Adulterations can cause a decline in quality and affect the marketing of pure products, which can also put consumers’ health at risk and side effects. Therefore, international committees have focused on quality control and safety protocols to ensure authenticity and purity.
Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are found everywhere in the environment. Scientists found these microplastics absorbed by the honeybees in an experimental model. They found that the bees stored microplastics in different parts of the hive, but it didn’t seem to harm the bees or their product in any noticeable way.
China is the largest honey-producing and consuming country in the world. However, the use of certain pesticides called neonicotinoids can be harmful to both bees and humans. Despite this, there is limited information about neonicotinoid residues in it and their health risks in China. The researchers found neonicotinoids in 97.9% of the samples, with acetamiprid, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid being the most common. They also found that neonicotinoids could pose a health risk to bees which is expectedly low for humans.
Pollinating insects have numerous threats, including environmental pollution, loss of natural habitats, diseases, climate change, and the spread of alien species. The toxic elements can disrupt pollinator behavior by affecting foraging activity, learning and memory, and food perception. In addition, pollutants can come from natural and human sources, including agricultural and industrial activities. Bees can collect toxic elements such as Cd, Cu, and Pb during foraging and transfer them to their products, including honey. Targeted action is needed to protect bees’ health and the quality of their products from toxic or potentially toxic elements.
Toxins in honey affect health
Consuming it contaminated may affect human health badly. A study revealed that feeding laboratory rats with sulfonamide-spiked honey affected erythrocytes, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and plasma thyroxine levels. It also emphasizes the importance of evaluating changes in biochemical and hematological parameters and oxidative stress when investigating the effects of metabolite residues resulting from the administration of bee products.
Tips for Choosing Safe Honey
- Choose it from reputable sources that conduct regular testing for heavy metal contamination.
- Choose organic and non-GMO certified honey to avoid GMOs.
- Avoid giving it to infants under 1 year old and people with weakened immune systems.
- Consult a doctor before consuming it if you have history of allergies.