In honor of allergy season being in full swing, I thought it would be helpful to provide some insight on Bee Pollen and why it is so extraordinary.
I had my first experience with bee pollen a few years ago. I was working at a local juice and smoothie shop- and we offered bee pollen as an added superfood boost. I would put it in my smoothie every day, and I swear I never had a spring so unaffected by allergies. Knowing this information and how it affected my own system inspired me to learn more, especially as future years sans bee pollen were quite miserable.
what is Bee pollen?
Bee pollen comes into existence when honey bees harvest pollen from a variety of plant sources. The bees add their own goodness (nectar) into it, and store it in honeycomb. Through this process it becomes a bonafide complete superfood. It has amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and more! It's pretty incredible. It is not considered vegan because bees create it- however, no bees are harmed in the harvesting of the pollen.
You've probably heard of pollen as an allergen itself, so why would eating it be good for you?
Essentially the thought is that it helps your body build its immune response to pollens. If your immune system is prepared, you will experience less symptoms once allergies are in full swing. This is also why buying local bee pollen is the best if you would like it to help with your seasonal allergies. When you use local bee pollen, the bees are harvesting pollen from plants that likely will be your triggers later.
If I want to prevent allergies, when should i start taking it?
It's best to start a few months in advance to build up an immune response. So probably too late to save you this spring. You can start next month to prepare for autumn allergens, though! That being said, I've noticed a difference with one dose (probably placebo effect but hey, I'll take it!) - so I will still be taking it this spring, even though it's late in the game!
I don't have seasonal allergies, why would I want to add this to my routine?
Key word: SUPERFOOD. This stuff is amazing. I mentioned its a complete food, so it essentially is a natural vitamin supplement. Here are some of the many reported benefits:
- Reduces inflammation
- Protects against liver toxicity
- Improved energy levels
- Improved gut health
- Acts as an anti-oxidant
- Natural stress reliever
- And many more! (Want to learn more? Check out "Further Reading" at the bottom of the page)
What to look for when buying
As mentioned before- first and foremost- try to get it locally. I live in Chicago- but farms in other areas of the state or in southern Wisconsin, Michigan, and northern Indiana all would probably be fine because we all share similar Midwest weeds and plants. Check with your local farmers market or try Whole Foods, they often will try to use local vendors.
Next, it's great to find kernels with a variety of color. They range from yellow to black - depending on what plants the bees took the pollen from. It you have a diversified mix it will help cover you to a variety of plant allergens.
It comes in a variety of forms (capsules, liquids, etc.) but get the whole kernels. Less processing is always best!
Side note: there are a lot of similar benefits to eating raw organic honey, however, it is really hard to find unpasteurized honey. The pasteurization process kills off a lot of the beneficial nutrients. Bee pollen on the other hand, not being a liquid, does not get pasteurized, so it retains it's nutritional integrity better.
How to best eat it?
I prefer using kernels on top of my smoothie bowls or mixed in to a smoothie (post blend). Always eat it with other food. If added to fruit it is supposed to activate quickly in the gut!
If you have any serious allergies (I'm talking anaphylaxis) ESPECIALLY to pollen, talk to your doctor about ingesting bee pollen. If you are worried you may have an allergic reaction, you can test by putting one granule on your tongue until it dissolves. If there is no reaction, add another. Repeat until you feel confident you will not have a reaction.
Want to learn more? Check out these resources!
What do you think? Will you give bee pollen a try? I am definitely going to add it back into my routine! Happy June! - AHS