For today’s edition of
Mark, I’m answering one eternal question: How do the Hadza
tribespeople of Northern Tanzania eat so much honey and maintain
their trim figures and pristine metabolic health? Are they eating
keto whenever they’re not eating honey? Are they running hill
sprints to burn through glycogen stores and improve their insulin
sensitivity? Are they trading mongongo nuts for Metformin? Or is
there something unique about honey that makes it different than
But before I get to the question, it’s a brand new year.
This New Year promises to be bigger and better than ever. Change
is in the air, and not just in my own life. Everyone I talk
to—all my friends, colleagues, family members, and random
acquaintances—seems to be entering a period of great change.
Their professional lives, their relationships, their health, their
mindsets are all shifting. And for the better. The way I see it is
that change happens regardless of what you do. It’s a far better
idea to take the reins and make the change work in your favor than
let yourself be swept away by powers and fate unseen.
Happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2019 is your best yet, and
I’d love to hear your visions for it.
Okay, on to the question:
What are your thoughts on honey as the sweetener for the mulled
wine? Given how the Hadza draw so many of their carbs from honey
(especially given the particular sugars and micronutrients that it
contains), I’m surprised it doesn’t appear more often in these
recipes that call for sweetening.
In case readers are unaware of the reference, the Hadza are one
of the few remaining hunter-gatherer groups on this planet. They
inhabit northern Tanzania, and their lives haven’t changed much
at all. They’ve resisted ethnic admixture from other groups. They
still hunt and gather for the vast majority of their calories.
Their hunting and foraging grounds have been condensed due to
pressure from the state, and there are probably fewer game animals
available, but they’re still in the same general area. According
to their oral traditions, there’s even no indication that they
came from somewhere else.
One of the more striking features of their diet is their
utilization of honey.
Ask the average Hadza tribesperson what their favorite food is
and “honey” will be the answer.
Catch the Hadza during the right month and they’ll get half
their calories from honey. Averaged out across the year, they get
15% from honey.
They even use a bird called the honey guide to lead them to the
choicest hives. After completing the harvest, they’ll burn or
bury the remnants to keep their honey guide from getting too full
for the next search.
The honey isn’t your store-bought, pristine golden syrup
smelling faintly of HFCS. It’s straight up honeycomb, teeming
with bees and larvae and pollen and the queenly secretions called
royal jelly. In fact, studies tend to emphasize that the Hadza get
15-50% of their calories not from honey, but from “honey and bee
Bee larvae, also known as bee brood, is packed with protein,
vitamins, and minerals. It’s high in folate, B12, thiamine,
pantothenic acid—pretty much all the B vitamins—and biotin, to
name a few.
Whole hive eating also means eating the royal jelly, a potent,
superconcentrated secretion used to feed larvae and queens. Think
of it as colostrum, the potent milk mammals provide for their
infants in the first few days of life. Royal jelly has shown
potential activity (in humans, no less) against allergic
rhinitis, reduced the toxicity
of cancer drugs in patients, lowered
cholesterol in adults with high cholesterol (and women), and
glycemic control and oxidative stress in diabetics.
How about the honey itself? I’ve written about honey
as a sweetener and explored how its metabolic effects differ
from plain white sugar. Suffice it to say, the evidence is clear
that honey isn’t just sugar. Honey contains sugar—a lot of
sugar—but it’s much more than that.
A set of
studies in humans compared the effects of honey, sham-honey (a
mix of fructose and glucose), dextrose (which is just glucose), and
sucrose on several health markers. Honey resulted in smaller blood
glucose spikes (+14%) than dextrose (+53%). Sham honey increased
triglycerides, while real honey lowered them along with boosting
HDL and lowering LDL. After fifteen days of honey feeding, CRP and
LDL dropped. Overall, honey improved blood lipids, lowered
inflammatory markers, and had minimal effect on blood glucose
levels, despite being similarly high in fructose in particular and
sugar in general.
So, in some respects, the honey the Hadza eat like crazy isn’t
the honey that most of us can easily obtain in stores or even
farmer’s markets. Yet even standard honey is different from—and
better than—white sugar.
This is a roundabout way of saying that a little honey will be
just fine in your mulled wine. Extra points if you can throw some
bee larvae and royal jelly in there, with maybe even a dash of
Hadza fecal bacteria.
Of course, don’t eat 15% honey diets. You are not Hadza. You
are not living like the Hadza. You don’t have the precise genetic
makeup of the Hadza. It won’t work as well for the average
Westerner reading blogs.
Do you eat honey? How do the metabolic effects compare to sugar
in your experience?
That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading, and be sure to
tell me your thoughts and New Year intentions down below.
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Jelly and Brazilian Green Propolis on the Signaling for Histamine H
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Osama H, Abdullah A, Gamal B, et al. Effect of Honey and
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Chiu HF, Chen BK, Lu YY, et al. Hypocholesterolemic
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Lambrinoudaki I, Augoulea A, Rizos D, et al. Greek-origin royal
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Al-waili NS. Natural honey lowers
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the Hadza Eat So Much Honey? and Happy New Year! appeared first
on Mark’s Daily