Written by Sarah Curran
What Is Bee Pollen?
Bee pollen is made of pollen which is collected by bees from flowering plants. It is also combined with small amounts of nectar. Its nutrient composition will vary due to the differences in flowers that the bees may have visited in different countries/environments. Bee pollen has been used for centuries by different cultures and is hailed by many as a ‘superfood’ due to its high nutritional content.
What Are The Benefits Of Bee Pollen?
Bee pollen has hit the headlines recently as being a superfood used by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, keeping them looking young and healthy. Bee pollen is in fact packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. There is little research into bee pollen and the anti-ageing properties, but it does, however, contain many components that are necessary for a healthy body.
Promotes Strength And Endurance
There have also been claims by athletes that bee pollen promotes strength and endurance. A study completed in 2004 illustrated that bee pollen had an anti-fatigue effect on rats when they completed the exercise. Human studies, unfortunately, are few and far between and do not illustrate the same benefits that the pollen appeared to have on the rats.
Many avid bee pollen fans also claim it has benefits such as an energy booster and immune system booster. It is claimed that it may also help to keep the cardiovascular system healthy, due to its content of an antioxidant called rutin. Bee pollen certainly has been shown in research to have high levels of antioxidants.
Many hail bee pollen as a weight loss aid, holistic medicine practitioners use it for the treatment of addictions and cravings. There is scarce evidence to promote bee pollen as a weight loss aid although it certainly contains vitamins and minerals necessary to promote good health as mentioned previously.
Bee pollen is also used holistically to aid in digestion, this is due to it having an abundance of vitamins and minerals with the addition of enzymes many fans claim will help digestion. An issue with this claim is that most enzymes that you consume with your food are actually denatured by the digestion process.
This means that the enzymes you have eaten may not work any longer. They actually get broken down into amino acids which your body will use to create enzymes as necessary. The same applies for the claim that bee pollen contains nucleic acids. Again, studies have illustrated that these do not end up in the human bloodstream. They too, just like the enzymes get broken down and then either eliminated from the body or simply reused.
Who Should Avoid Bee Pollen?
Due to the incidences in recent research of allergic reaction, those with allergies and asthma are in fact advised to avoid taking bee pollen as a supplement. Bee pollen is not recommended for those on blood thinners due to a known interaction. As with all supplements, it is important to discuss using them with your doctor, especially if you are on any medications or have a pre-existing health condition.
Take Home Message
Bee pollen is widely discussed and hailed online as a superfood, but when you delve into the world of peer-reviewed research, its presence is not quite as strongly felt, especially in human studies. This does not mean that bee pollen has not got any potential as a supplement that may have benefits for humans, it simply means it has not been studied enough to prove that it is.
There are also a lot of unwarranted and unrealistic claims about bee pollen on the internet hailing it as a miracle food; unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case, at least not according to the research available to us at this time. The main difficulty with bee pollen is the variation of its nutritional content due to the source of the pollen, as mentioned previously different flowers in different countries cause an inconsistency in nutritional content in different sources of pollen.
Another issue is that many research papers use extracts from pollen as opposed to whole bee pollen. Many studies are also conducted on animals and plants rather than humans.