Health and Wellness Fridays- The Bitter Sweet Side of Sugar

Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!  I trust that you have conquered your week and that today was like the icing on the cake whereby things just got better. 🙂

Please accept my apologies for not posting last week.  Today,  we’re going to be looking at sugar.

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“Sugar” is that special ingredient added to many of our beverages and baked goods that just makes them taste better or rather should I say sweeter. 🙂  Unfortunately, sugar has attained a negative reputation over the years as more and more knowledge about the side effects of overindulging in its consumption come to the forefront.

However, not all sugar is bad for us and this is where the acquisition and understanding of information is so important.

Did you know?

There are two main classifications of sugars: added or refined sugars and natural sugars.

Added or refined sugars include: refined white sugar (sucrose), brown sugar, honey and syrups that are added to food. These added sugars are called simple carbohydrates and they provide little nutritional value and can cause spikes in blood glucose levels.  This is the sugar that most people advise that we reduce consumption of or abstain from.

Natural sugars on the other hand, are sugars that occur naturally in fruits and milk. These sugars are called complex carbohydrates and they provide nutrition and help regulate blood sugar.

So you see, not all sugars are bad for us but we need to know what to look out for.

Types of Sugars

Although sugar can be classified into two main groups, it can be further broken down into three categories: white sugars, brown sugars and liquid sugar.  Within each of these categories are even more sugars, some of which I only learned about during the course of my research to be honest.  Let’s take a closer look.

Some white sugars include:

  • Bakers Special Sugar
  • Castor/Caster Sugar
  • Confectioners or Powdered Sugar
  • Coarse Sugar
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Sanding Sugar
  • Superfine, Ultra Fine, or Bar Sugar

 

Some brown sugars include:

  • Brown sugar (light and dark)
  • Demerara Sugar
  • Muscovado or Barbados Sugar
  • Turbinado Sugar

Liquid sugar or (sucrose) is basically white granulated sugar that is dissolved in water before it is used.

Invert Sugar – is the sugar we get from splitting sucrose into its two component sugars (glucose and fructose).  Fructose is sweeter than either glucose or sucrose. Invert sugar is therefore sweeter than white sugar.

Some benefits or the ‘sweet side’ of sugar as it relates to the body include:

  • Energy booster – glucose is the body’s primary source of fuel, and it comes from the breakdown of sugar.
  • Help us store energy – After glucose is converted into energy for immediate use, the body will store some of the glucose as an energy reserve for later.
  • Instantly improve our mood – sugar activates the pleasure center of our brain and causes a rush of dopamine. This will produce an immediate, euphoric feeling.
  • Natural Sugar Sources Come With Added Nutrients – dairy products, fruits and veggies all provide natural sugars in addition to fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and hydration. You can indulge in all the natural sweets you want without creating unhealthy insulin spikes.
  • Skin health – Sugar’s glycolic acid can be very helpful in maintaining the health and look of your skin. Using it can help elimination blemishes and restoring the balance in the skin’s oils.

 

Some of the negatives or the ‘bitter side’ of indulging in too much refined sugars include:

  • Weight gain that could lead to obesity.
  • Spike of blood sugar that can lead to diabetes.
  • Leave you feeling overly energized or hyperactive
  • Increase cholesterol levels that can ultimately lead to heart disease.
  • Create insulin resistance
  • Addictive
  • Create a resistance to the hormone called Leptin
  • Cause dental cavities

 

After reading the above my hope is that you’ve gained a better understanding and appreciation for the bitter-sweet of sugar.  Refined sugars bring that quick fix we’re sometimes looking or craving for but too much of it can be harmful.  Natural sugars are healthier for us that’s a fact but they aren’t ideal for every situation or occasion. This is where using our moderation and discretion comes in.

So dear friends, weigh the pros and cons of what you’re eating and strive to improve the areas of your eating habits that can be harmful to your health.

In life there are a few things we just have no control over but we do have some control over how sweet we want our lives to be.

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Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend.

Sources:

Health and Wellness Fridays – Toxic People

Hello and welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays! It feels so good to be back. 🙂

Today I’m going to be talking about the effect toxic people can have on our health and wellness.    Let’s first look at some traits of toxic people.

Here are 14 signs of a toxic person or relationship.

  1. They are constantly negative towards you and others.
  2. Verbal, physical and psychological abuse is the norm in the relationship.
  3. They encourage and support you in negative behaviour.
  4. They are non-supportive when you need them most.
  5. They are manipulative.
  6. They never apologize and if they do it’s not genuine as they repeat the same behaviour over and over.
  7. They constantly expect you to prove yourself to them.
  8. They are constantly trying to control you what you wear, who you speak to, where you go and more.
  9. They don’t take responsibility for their own feelings or actions and blame you constantly for the way things are.
  10. The focus is always on them and what they need and want never about your needs or feelings.
  11. They leave you drained emotionally and physically.
  12. They tend to want you to spend less and less time with the people who love and care about you such as your family and friends.
  13. Your interactions with them leave you feeling stressed, depressed and or irritated.
  14.  Happy moments are far and few because you are always arguing with each other.  Or rather you are always defending yourself.

I have experienced this and I can tell you that such an existence in this world is just that an existence because you’re not living and I for one was not happy.  Any happiness I did experience was short-lived because of the constant drama and arguing.

Many times we allow ourselves to stay in toxic relationships and underestimate the impact these negative interactions can have on our health and overall well-being.

Did you know?

Some researchers have even looked at the correlation between psychological and emotional stress, and its relationship to increased risk of illness and disease.

Here are some possible side effects of trying to live within a toxic relationship or among toxic people.

  1. Constant emotional turmoil – as you’re either stressed, angry, agitated or depressed.
  2. Emotional distress can trigger other symptoms such as loss of appetite or over eating resulting in rapid weight loss or weight gain.  It all depends on how you treat or cope with your stress.
  3. The frustrations of the interactions could trigger an increase in other habits such as drinking and smoking.
  4. Hair loss.
  5. Headaches or migraines.
  6. Trouble sleeping
  7. High blood pressure
  8. Anxiety
  9. Poor self-image

I’m sure the list can go on and on because the symptoms are different for everyone.  Some are mild and others can be more severe as others may have thoughts of suicide or even suffer a heart attack. Stress especially the  chronic type over time wears down not just the mind but the body and spirit.

What can someone do in such a situation?

I could say to you run like the wind and don’t look back but that’s what you’ve probably heard before and for some reason or another you’ve chosen to stay.

Why do we stay? For some, it’s love while for others it’s the fear and uncertainty of what life would be without that special someone, fear of starting over because they are unsure about themselves and their abilities.

When I stayed back then, I was blinded by my love for the other person so much that I did not allow myself to love me enough to get out of that damaging situation.  I was also fearful and uncertain of how  I would manage without him in my life but I did it!

It was different but each day got better and easier and I not only grew in self-confidence but my knowledge of myself, my true strengths and weaknesses. I could look into the mirror and finally see ME for the beautiful and amazing person that I am. 🙂

There’s nothing wrong with loving another human being just as long as we share and show that same love and more towards ourselves as well!

Toxic relationships both in the short-term and long-term can deplete us on every level imaginable, if we give them the power, space and freedom to.  Read the questions below and answer them honestly.

  • Ask yourself, is this situation worth your life?
  • Are you truly happy with the way things are?
  • Who are the two or more most supportive people in your life?
  • If you were looking at your life from the someone else’s shoes – what would be your advice be to them?
  • If this negative person does not change their behaviour towards you, are you willing to do something about it?

It’s your life, your health, your happiness and your decision.  Whatever you do, choose to love yourself enough to reposition yourself into a situation that is healthier and happier for YOU.

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 

Health and Wellness Fridays – Raw Garlic

Hello and welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!  I know for me  Fridays are extra special.  Are they for you too? 🙂

Today we’re going to be talking about the possible benefits of raw garlic.    Garlic is good for so much more than just adding flavour to our dishes. Stick around to learn more. 🙂

Background

Garlic is a member of the Allium Sativum family of vegetables which includes onion, chive, leek, and shallot.  Garlic is a herb that has been around for many years.

It is made up of many small separate cloves arranged in a head, called a “bulb”.  The cloves as well as the entire bulb are encased in paper-like sheathes that vary in colour ranging from white, off-white to  a purple hue.

There are many varieties of garlic. Garlic can differ in size, colour, shape, taste, number of cloves per bulb, pungency and storability. Some garlic can be stored for as little as 6 months to as much as 1 year.

Most of the garlic varieties can be classified under hard-necked or soft-necked.   Soft-necked being the most common.  They are usually the ones  you will find braided in the supermarket. Soft-necked garlic typically has several layers of cloves surrounding the central portion of the garlic bulb. Its papery skin, or sheath, is creamy white in colour.  Silverskin and artichoke are two popular varieties.

Hard-necked garlic unlike soft-neck garlic do not have a flexible stalk.  This type of garlic, will typically have an extremely firm stalk protruding an inch or two from the top of the bulb.  Three popular varieties include: Rocambole, Porcelain and Purple stripe.

Nutritional Profile of Raw Garlic

Some of the nutrients that can be found in raw garlic include: manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C,  copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, and calcium as well as sulfur compounds.

Did you know?

  • Garlic is a laxative plant.
  • The fresher the garlic, the higher the concentration of its active ingredients.  Green shoots are a sign of age.
  • Wide range of health and beauty benefits.

Some Possible Health and Beauty Benefits include:

Possible Side Effects

Although garlic is likely safe for most people when taken appropriately.  Some people have reported the following side effects after consuming garlic such as bad breath, a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, body odour, and diarrhea.

Additionally, anyone with any of the under mentioned conditions should be cautious when or if using garlic especially in its raw form.  Let’s take a look.

Bleeding disorder: Garlic, especially fresh garlic, might increase the risk of bleeding.

Stomach or digestion problems: Garlic can irritate the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Use with caution if you have stomach or digestion problems.

Low blood pressure: Garlic can lower blood pressure. In theory, taking garlic might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.

Surgery: Garlic might prolong bleeding and interfere with blood pressure. Stop taking garlic at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Don’t take garlic if you take isoniazid (Nydrazid, INH). Garlic might reduce how much isoniazid (Nydrazid, INH) the body absorbs. This might decrease how well isoniazid (Nydrazid, INH) works.

All in all, garlic is a herb full of promise. I know eating raw garlic is not for everyone.  I’ve eaten it and I can tell you it does create a burning sensation in the mouth as you chew it but it does not last too long thankfully.

Garlic is added to the majority of the meals I prepare because I love the smell and the flavour of it gives my meals.

     

Talk to your doctor and do some research of your own.

Living healthier is a lifestyle decision and it does not happen overnight.  Take it one day at a time. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great weekend.

Health and Wellness Fridays – Water

Hello and welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!  It has been a rainy day for most of the day here but I won’t let that keep me back.  We just have to make the most of each day regardless.

Today, we’re getting a mouthful of this week’s topic – water.   An individual’s water needs vary with age, sex, weather, activity level, and overall health.

What is water exactly?

Water is a colourless substance made of hydrogen and oxygen, in the ratio of two to one. It covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface and is essential to all known forms of life.  Did you know that the percentage of water in a man’s body is different to that of a woman?  Men have a higher water composition than women.  Interesting!

Here are some benefits of drinking water:

  • Hydration of the body
  • Maximize physical performance
  • Prevent and treat headaches
  • Helps in digestion and constipation
  • Reduce hangovers
  • Assist with weight loss
  • Relieve fatigue
  • Improve your mood
  • Flush out waste and toxins
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Promotes healthy skin
  • Lubricate the joints
  • Reduce the risk of kidney stones
  • Helps protect the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
  • Combat bad breath

Water is doing more than just quenching our thirst. Although many of us worry that we may not be drinking enough water, in turns out we need to be just as mindful of drinking too much water. Is it even possible for water to have side effects?  Apparently, the answer to that is YES.  Take a look at what I found.

Possible side effects of drinking too much water include:

  • Overhydration (drinking too much water) which can result in water intoxication also known as hyponatremia. Some people experience swelling or discoloration in their hands, lips, and feet. In severe cases, water intoxication can lead to debilitating health problems such as seizures, coma, and even death.
  • Cause cells to swell which is dangerous for the body
  • Reduce potassium levels
  • May cause hypokalemia  symptoms of which may include: vomiting, low blood pressure, paralysis, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Put strain on the heart
  • You might get headaches
  • Increased urination
  • Cause muscle spasms and cramping
  • Chlorine in water may increase cancer risks
  • Can affect proper functioning of the kidneys
  • Make you feel tired

Drinking water is a must because our bodies need it to stay healthy.  However, drinking too much water can hurt us.  According to Tamara Hew-Butler, DPM, PhD, an exercise science professor at Oakland University, “… Thirst is every body’s individual monitor that lets them know if they need more. The more water you need, the thirstier you get.”

If you’re drinking a healthy amount of water, the colour of your urine should be straw-coloured to transparent yellow.

I’ve heard people say they don’t like drinking plain water.  You can add a lemon slice to your water to give it a little flavour but not drinking water is a definite no, no.  I agree that some water can be obtained from the consumption of beverages however, when possible they should not substituted for the real deal all the time.

Healthy alternatives to sugary beverages include adding hydrating fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, zucchini, eggplant, cantaloupe, bell peppers and so much more.  Find a balance and your body will thank you for it. 🙂

Which type of water is safe to drink – tap water, bottled water or filtered / purified water?

I cannot answer that because there are so many variables and factors that affect the quality of the water we drink.  With tap water there is the possibility of contaminants such as bacteria, parasites, lead and mercury just to name a few.  With that said I don’t think there is anything wrong with adding a water filter/ water purifier to your home as an added precaution to reduce the risk.

Some of you may know that not all bottled water brands are created equal.  There are a number of variables that separate one from another, from electrolytes to acidity levels so do your research and consume the brand you are comfortable with.  I did come across a few sites that did their own bottled water tests. If you’re interested you can visit Review.com and Thrillist.com.

I hope that today’s segment on water was refreshing and that it quenched your thirst for knowledge.  🙂

Have a great weekend!  Thanks for stopping by.

 

Sources:

Health and Wellness Fridays:Wheatgrass

Welcome back guys to Health and Wellness Fridays!  Wheatgrass is the star of the show today. How many of you are familiar with wheatgrass? Today, we’ll explore some of the benefits of what some have called a powerful superfood.

What is wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass is a chlorophyll-rich herb that’s acquired from the cotyledons of the young grass of the common wheat plant called triticum aestivum.   Some other names it is known by include but are not limited to: Agropyre,  Blé en Herbe, Brote del Trigo, Couch Grass, Cutch, Dog Grass, Durfa Grass, Elymus repens, Graminis Rhizoma, Quack Grass, Quitch Grass, Scotch Quelch, Triticum, Twitchgrass and Witch Grass.

History of wheatgrass

The hype about the benefits of wheatgrass may be new to some of us but back in the 1930’s  Charles F. Schnabel Sr.  thought to be the “Father of Wheatgrass” through his experiments showed how beneficial wheatgrass was both to humans and animals. In the 1940’s Ann Wigmore reportedly healed herself of cancer from the weeds she found in vacant lots in Boston.  Wheatgrass has been doing its thing since then that says something.

Nutritional Properties

Wheatgrass nutritional composition is very impressive.   It is an excellent source of chlorophyll.  It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12.  It also provides zinc, copper, phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium and even amino acids.

The benefits of this edible grass can be acquired through either juice, capsule or tablet form or as a fine green powder once it is milled down.  Since the 1930’s researchers and scientists over the years have continued to research some of the possible benefits of wheatgrass and some would argue even more research is needed.

However, I won’t discount or discredit what some have highlighted as possible benefits to be obtained from using wheatgrass.  Let’s take a look.

  1. Supports brain health
  2. Stimulate circulation
  3. Boost metabolism
  4. Alkaline the body
  5. Antibacterial
  6. Antimicrobial
  7. Antioxidant
  8. Anti-inflammatory
  9. Lower cholesterol
  10. Prevent cancer
  11. Detoxifies the body
  12. Purifies the liver
  13. Regulate blood sugar
  14. Helps prevent tooth decay
  15. Improves digestion
  16. Improves vision – particularly night vision
  17. Boost immune system
  18. Treat arthritis
  19. Treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis
  20. Restore fertility and balance hormones
  21. Slow aging
  22. Help heal wounds
  23. Reduce food cravings
  24. Helps with mental well-being
  25. Lose Weight
  26. Fight acne
  27. Fight depression
  28. Fight the common cold
  29. Rebuild blood
  30. Reduce fatigue
  31. Clear sinus congestion

Although wheatgrass is generally considered safe I still like to mention any possible side effects I find.  We all respond differently to different things so it pays to be safe than sorry.

Some possible side effects include:

  • Excessive consumption of wheatgrass may cause nausea or headaches in some people.
  • Some possible allergic reactions include throat swelling, digestive discomfort and hives.
  • Persons who have a wheat or grass allergy, celiac disease or gluten intolerance should consult a physician prior to consuming wheatgrass, since this could cause complications when ingested in high amounts.

How I use it

I use wheatgrass in the powder form and mix it in my bottled water.  I try to drink it on an empty stomach when possible.  It is an acquired taste but you get used to it.  I try to focus on the possible benefits.   I do not drink it everyday but rather I drink it two to three times per week.  That works for me so no complaints thus far.  🙂

Always do your research about the products you are using or considering using. Be sure to read and follow the directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or healthcare professional before using.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a great weekend! 🙂

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Health and Wellness Fridays – Cinnamon

Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays! Forgive me for this obviously late post but it could not be helped.  Today we are going to be talking about some of the possible health benefits of cinnamon.  Cinnamon is a spice that comes from the inner brown bark of the Cinnamomum trees and is brown in colour.  It has a distinct smell and flavour that comes from cinnamaldehyde.

Image Credit : Pexels.com

Did you know that there are hundreds of types of Cinnamon? However, only four types of Cinnamon are used for commercial purposes: Ceylon Cinnamon, Cassia or Chinese Cinnamon, Saigon Cinnamon and Korintje Cinnamon.

Cassia, Saigon and Korintje Cinnamon are all classified under the Cassia Cinnamon category because they are very similar to each other with only slight variations in  shape, colour, taste, and Coumarin content.

Characteristics:

  • Ceylon Cinnamon is soft, brittle, lighter in colour, has a mild smell and is slightly sweeter with low Coumarin levels.
  • Cassia type Cinnamon however is hard, darker in colour, spicy,  has a stronger smell and has high levels of Coumarin. 

Origins:

  • Ceylon cinnamon  is produced in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Brazil, India, and the Caribbean.
  • Cassia cinnamon is produced largely in Indonesia, China and Vietnam.

Some of the nutrients found in cinnamon include:  manganese, calcium and fibre.  Cinnamon can be acquired in its stick form, in a powder form, capsule form or as an oil.  Regardless of the form you choose it does not take away from its effectiveness.  It is popular in both sweet and savory dishes.  It’s usefulness are not just limited to the kitchen but outside of it as well. Let’s take a look.

Some studies done on cinnamon suggests the following benefits:

  • High source of antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Anti-clotting agent
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacteria
  • Anti-viral properties
  • Lower bad cholesterol
  • Boost immunity
  • Protects against heart disease
  • Protects brain function
  • Lower cancer risks
  • Protects and support good dental health
  • Improve colon health

The potential benefits to be gained from using cinnamon are not only limited to its consumption but can also be gained through just smelling it in the form of cinnamon scented candles, homemade toothpaste and even in the form of an acne mask.

Possible side effects:

The high levels of Coumarin found in Cassia cinnamon can be potentially toxic to the liver so if you must use it please use very small amounts. For this reason some researchers recommend Ceylon cinnamon because it has lower levels of Coumarin. Like I always say, everything needs to be used in moderation so do not exceed the recommended dosage.

Some experts also warn against incorporating too much cinnamon into your diet if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do your research and be sure to consult your doctor to avoid any potential complication.

Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

Sources:

  • https://www.cinnamonvogue.com/Types_of_Cinnamon_1.html
  • http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266069.php?page=2
  • http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cinnamon.html
  • http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=68&tname=foodspice
  • http://www.organicauthority.com/health/11-health-benefits-of-cinnamon.html

 

Health and Wellness Fridays – Honey

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Image Credit: Pixabay.com

Welcome back to Health and Wellness Fridays!!    Today, we are going to be looking at honey and some of the amazing benefits we can get from it.

My grandfather now deceased was a beekeeper. I remember how he would have to put on his white bee-suit and smoke out the bee hives to extract the honey.  I was very young then and had no idea how valuable his craft was. I never really liked the taste of honey. As an adult, I now see the value of something I had taken for granted as a child growing up.

Honey has been around since the ancient times and was seen as a precious commodity.  It was used not only as a natural sweetener but for medicinal and religious purposes as well.

What is honey? 

The simplest way to describe it,  honey  is a sweet product that is made by bees using the nectar of flowers.  Honey is rich in various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

According to the National Honey Board , “Honey color ranges from nearly colorless to dark brown, and its flavor varies from delectably mild to distinctively bold, depending on where the honey bees buzzed. As a general rule, light-colored honey is milder in taste and dark-colored honey is stronger.”

Some uses and benefits of honey

Let’s take a look at some of the uses and benefits of using honey.   Please note that raw or pure honey is recommended when treating any of the undermentioned.

General Health  Benefits:

  • Helps prevent cancer and heart disease
  • Reduces cough and throat irritation
  • Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
  • Boost your immune system
  • Helps regulate blood sugar
  • Helps soothe acid reflux
  • Help boost your energy
  • Helps with cholesterol
  • Good memory booster
  • Treat yeast infections
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Promotes a better sleep
  • Helps with allergies
  • Treat herpes

 

Skin and Hair Benefits:

  • Promotes a healthy scalp
  • Heals wounds and burns
  • Helps fight acne
  • Moisturizer
  • Treat eczema
  • Shampoo and condition hair

Best type of honey to use

Raw or unprocessed honey is the best type to use because commercial honey is often heavily processed and may even be chemically refined.  Commercial honey is usually golden in colour and has a syrup-like appearance.   Additionally, you should note that once raw honey is excessively heated and processed,  the health benefits are largely depleted.  All honey is therefore not created equal so be sure to ask questions and read what you are buying.

How to use honey

Although honey is full of benefits, it is also high in fructose and must be used in moderation therefore less is best especially when consuming it.

Important – Possible Side Effects

Now I could not leave you without mentioning some possible side effects of consuming too much honey.   Some side effects can include: weight gain, cavities, nausea, weakness, vomiting, dizziness, and sweating.

Children under 12 months MUST NOT be given honey because it is a potential source for the bacteria that causes botulism.  Raw honey is however, safe for older children and adults.

If you are allergic to pollen or have any other bee-related allergies, it is recommended that you do not consume raw honey.

How I use it

  • I like to mix 1 teaspoon honey in warm water with cinnamon and the juice from 1/2 a lemon.  Drink on an empty stomach once per day. This aids in my detox and weight management.
  • I sometimes mix it with some lime or lemon juice if I have a sore throat.
  • I use 1 teaspoon of honey mixed with sugar and a few drops of lemon juice as an exfoliator on my skin once or twice per week. Rubbing the mixture in circular motion on my face and neck and I leave it for about 10 minutes before I wash it off.
  • I also like to add it to my Bar-B-Que sauce replacing brown sugar.

There are tons of recipes and combinations for using honey based on your objectives and goals.  So do your research and get yourself a bottle today.