Digesting Bee Pollen
Bee pollen quite simply is a collection of pollen grains, collected from a wide variety of plants by the industrious honey bees.
Roles are assigned to bees within the hive community, and the worker bee is raised with the simple task of foraging and collecting pollens and plant resins. The bees are specially equipped for this task with the inclusion of special pollen ‘baskets’ on their legs. As you look at an assortment of multi-colored wholegrain bee pollen granules, each of the small granules has been collected by the worker bee and transported back to the beehive within the tiny pollen basket.
If you’ve ever wondered what the reason is for this collection of food within the hive, and how it is used alongside other hive ingredients, then here’s the simple answer. Bee pollen is the primary source of nutrition for the bees, and it is collected and stored in abundance, so there is always a surplus. The bees feed off the pollens and also combine the granules with honey and nectars. In doing so they are consuming a veritable power-house of nutrients – vitamins, proteins, carbs, calcium, zinc, manganese, and much more.
Since the bees collect pollen to provide nutrition for the colony, it stands to reason that they are selective about what they collect and that they collect only the best available produce. Weakened or contaminated pollens are rejected, and bees travel many miles in search of the purest and most nutritious pollens available within their region.
It’s important to understand the diverse range of nutrients in bee pollen and to understand the role played by each of these nutrients in the human body. Some of the components of this substance are present only in trace amounts, where others are abundant, taking up the lions share of the substance by volume. Trace minerals and vitamins such as calcium and magnesium are present, yet they account for a relatively low percentage of the product by volume, whereas others, including riboflavin, B3 are present in far greater amounts.
There has been much said about the bioavailability of bee pollen and many people are slightly misled by this term. It should be understood that whole grain, natural granules of pollen are a food and not a compressed vitamin powder which has been synthetically manufactured.
The body has the capacity to absorb foods quite easily and to extract from them the various minerals and components which it needs to function optimally. Yes, there is always some waste, but bee pollen in its raw and unprocessed form is very accessible to the digestive processes.
Many processors will split the whole bee pollen granules, cracking the hard outer shell of the granule to make the softer inner core more accessible to the digestive enzymes. This is often given the ‘potentiated’, yet there’s nothing really magical or mystical about the potentiation process. Clearly, a powdered bee pollen has been freed from its harder outer shell and is easily absorbed and digested.
Yet it is also easy for manufacturers to add components to the powder which are not always desirable. Magnesium Stearate is such a component which can be added to ease flow through the capsule machine, and it’s perfectly fine to use this, however, since it is cheap, some unscrupulous manufacturers have been known to include more mag stearate than is actually shown on the label.
With whole grain and cracked granules, you don’t have to fear what might be included in the product, you can clearly see the pollen granules.
To understand the bioavailability of bee products versus conventional tablet/capsule processed supplements, it should be understood that bee products are phytochemicals – plant-derived and organic matter which is recognized by our digestive system as a perfectly viable foodstuff.
What does all of this mean to us as humans?
Well, the answer to that question is long and multi-faceted. In a nutshell, since bee pollen is packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc, it holds the capacity to provide us with functional nutrition and healing nutrition*.
Its chemical composition shows the product to be rich in carotenoids and phenolics, potent anti-oxidants when introduced into the human body. The flavonoids present in the substance have shown benefits to the cardiovascular system in the manner in which the reduce and regulate cholesterol.
Also, studies have shown that bee pollen might be helpful with weight loss and regulation of BMI. A teaspoon daily (around 5000mg) provides you with much more than a healthy serving of proteins, it provides you with a broad spectrum of diverse plant-based nutrition that you simply cannot find from any other source.