The Story of Bee Pollen: Where Nature Begins
Part One: What is Bee Pollen?
While most people recognize the term bee pollen, many people do not know what bee pollen actually is or what it has to offer. Bee Pollen is one of nature¹s unique and most powerful foods. It is flower pollen that bees collect for food. Bee pollen offers a treasure trove of special plant nutrients. Here are some of the qualities that make Bee Pollen unique:
1. The nutrients found in Bee Pollen are extremely high quality. Not only does bee pollen contain high quality nutrients that can be burned as fuel, it also provides nutrients that are helpful in maintaining and promoting health.
2. The nutritional makeup of Bee Pollen is extremely broad spectrum. The wide range of nutrients found in Bee Pollen include polyphenols, enzymes, beneficial fatty acids, free amino acids, vitamin complexes, chelated minerals and trace elements, as well as a large array of phytonutrients that have yet to be identified. This nutritional diversity makes Bee Pollen an ideal dietary supplement as a complement and boost to a well-rounded diet.
3. The nutrients in Bee Pollen are very concentrated. This nutritional density means that even small amounts provide effective and valuable levels of important nutrients. In other words, bee pollen, as a food source or as a supplement, provides low volume, but high intensity, nutrition.
An important question is, how did bee pollen become such a superfood? In nature, everything happens for a reason. Pollen¹s primary function is to act as the male spore in the reproductive cycle. It is not necessary for pollen to be nutritious to fulfill that duty. The reproductive spores of other plants and animals are not nutritious. So how and why did bee pollen develop into such a unique, broad-spectrum source of nutrients? To answer that question, we must first examine the relationship between flowering plants and bees, and see how that relationship evolved over time.
Part Two: The Symbiotic Relationship
150 million years ago, flowering plants first appeared on Earth. This was an extremely important event in Earth¹s history, because for the first time, nutrients became concentrated into plant structures, called fruits and vegetables. The development of fruits and vegetables was a pre-condition for the evolution of man. Fruits and vegetables provided mammals with the food they needed to have in order to evolve. In other words, without bees and flowering plants, humans may not have evolved at all.
Since their first appearance on this planet, flowering plants and bees formed a symbiotic partnership. In other words, they developed a relationship in which they both helped each other, in extremely important, and mutually beneficial ways.
Pollen is the male reproductive spore of the plants. Flowers produce pollen to fertilize other flowers. But for this to happen, pollen must get from the flower of one plant to fertilize the flower of another plant. How does it happen? As everyone knows, bees do the work, depositing pollen from flower to flower. When bees visit flowers, they fertilize them by spreading the pollen that they collected from previous plants. This simple act, repeated over and over again, becomes the force that re-starts the life cycle of our planet every spring. It is the genesis of the food chain.
This is obviously an important service for the plant, but how does the bee benefit? Bees collect pollen for food. The lifespan of a worker bee is only 7-8 weeks. Bees accomplish a tremendous amount of work during that short period of time, and their metabolisms run at very high levels. Just as a racecar needs more powerful fuel to run well and fast, bees require a high-intensity diet to satisfy their nutritional requirements. Besides honey, which provides calories to burn as fuel, bee pollen is all that bees eat. In the evolutionary process, pollen that bees collect has evolved into the richest fuel possible. Pollen provides the nutritional building blocks needed to nurture the young and grow the population of the hive. In the spring, when bees start to bring pollen back to the hive, that is a signal to the Queen that she can start laying eggs. Pollen, then, is essential nutrition for the bees. Since both the bees and the flowers benefit, their relationship is called a symbiotic relationship.
The Evolution of Bee Pollen
The development of every plant and animal on the planet was shaped by evolution. Evolution is driven by gene mutations, or genetic accidents. Most mutations cause detrimental changes that cause the plant or animal to die. However, on very rare occasions, beneficial mutations occur, and these are passed on to successive generations-as Nature selects for stronger, more optimal individuals or in popular terms 'survival of the fittest'. Beneficial mutations allow plant and animals to develop a competitive edge over similar plants in the battle for reproduction and survival.
Here¹s an example: in the rainforest, there is a huge variety of plants. In fact, there are so many plants that they battle each other for space and sunlight. The trees that have evolved to grow the tallest, and the fastest, out-compete the other trees in the race for sunlight. They are the plants that win the battle for survival. However, this may be temporary, because other plants are evolving to become more competitive with the leaders. Evolution is an on-going competition.
In much the same way that rainforest trees compete for sunlight, flowering plants compete with each other for the bees services. The ability of a flowering plant to attract bees translates directly into their reproductive success. If bees give a greater share of attention to a certain species of plant, then that plant will propagate more and will become the dominant plant in the area. While bees collect pollen from all types of plants, they show preferences for certain types of pollen. The pollen that is most attractive to bees, naturally, is pollen that provides the best nutrients for their health. In this plant competition, reproductive success is driven by the ability to evolve the most nutritious pollen that will attract the most bees. Plants with lower quality pollen are then driven to evolve higher quality pollen in order to become more competitive for the bees attention.
150 million years of this evolutionary pressure has driven bee pollen to become more and more nutritionally superior. The end product of this process of natural selection is bee pollen with high intensity nutrition.
Part Three: Bee Pollen Studies
So, what¹s on the menu? What do we mean by intense nutrition? As we have described, bee pollen nutrients do more than just provide calories to burn as fuel. Recently, researchers have begun to study specific nutrients, and, also, classes of nutrients, that have qualitative, or beneficial, effects on the living system in other words, nutrients that help the human body optimize its normal functions and promote a state of health. One important activity that researchers focus on is antioxidant activity.
What does antioxidant activity mean? In the body, unstable oxygen molecules, or free radicals, create havoc with the living system. Free radicals are also called Reactive Oxygen Species, and they are created by glitches in the body¹s normal metabolism. They are also created by environmental toxins, smoking, aging, and other destructive mechanisms. The normal lifespan of a free radical is one millionth of a second. That is because they are so unstable that they will very quickly use their biochemical force to stabilize themselves. Free radicals exist only long enough for them to bump into something and capture enough electrons or hydrogen atoms to achieve a stable form. This can be extremely destructive for the unwilling donor. Free radical damage is associated with many degenerative processes of the body, including aging. Examples of free radicals are H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide), CO (carbon monoxide), O (singlet oxygen), O2- (superoxide), and OH (hydroxy molecules). Note that all of these molecules contain oxygen molecules. The problem is that these molecules are chemically unstable antioxidants neutralize these reactive oxygen molecules and make them stable.
Luckily for the body, antioxidants can neutralize free radicals before they can do too much damage to tissues. Antioxidants quench free radicals by efficiently smothering and stabilizing them. They then recharge themselves by interacting with a complex network of other antioxidants.
Most dietary antioxidants are bioflavonoids. Bee Pollen contains large amounts of bioflavonoids, and that is why it shows so much antioxidant activity. But besides performing antioxidant duties, scientific studies have shown that bioflavonoids also perform many other important functions in the body.
Certain bioflavonoids increase capillary strength in the body; some benefit the liver. Other bioflavonoids help maintain bone density, and the list goes on and on. The presence of antioxidant bioflavonoids should be considered significant for more than just the antioxidant protection they provide.
Part Four: The Use of Bee Pollen
What does all this mean in practical application to the human diet? It is important to achieve a diet that provides a good balance of all types of nutrients. Because of the broad spectrum of nutrients that bee pollen offers, it can be an excellent addition to a diet. Bee pollen can make it easy to fill in the gaps in a person¹s nutritional profile especially when we don¹t all consume our recommended 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. That is one reason why bee pollen is such a valuable supplement to the diet, because it supplies many of the dietary antioxidants, bioflavonoids and polyphenols that we are missing by not eating our recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables.
In complementary medicine, many, if not all, of the effective protocols call for a cleansing and detoxifying diet. This is usually accomplished by eliminating processed foods, such as refined white bread and pasta, as well as congestive foods like cheese and dairy products. It is important to replace these harmful foods with high-quality whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, and bee pollen that promote health. Bee pollen can be an essential component for a high-quality dietary program, because it is such a potent and high quality source of nutrients.
Many people place a lot of faith in the power of supplements. There are many supplements on the market that can be highly effective. But diet is the foundation of health. This means that, fundamentally, diet must be the platform on which optimal health occurs, not the obstacle that prevents it from happening. Optimal health occurs when the body can effectively martial its own defensive and healing resources. For that to happen, the body must be nutritionally fortified and strengthened in a way that allows its immune system to react, defend and fight, rather than be hindered by a poor, congestive diet. Supplementing with bee pollen can be an important first step in the process of developing a sound, high quality diet.
To accomplish great things, work is required. For optimal health, there is no such thing as a 'silver bullet', or a tablet that makes everything healthy and whole. For optimal health, diet is the foundation, and it requires work to make it right.
Let High Desert® Bee Pollen help you build your foundation of health.
1. What is Bee Pollen
2. The Symbiotic Relationship
3. Bee Pollen Studies
4. The Use of Bee Pollen