In most of the occasions, its effects are a simple placebo , although they have a very important cultural component for the people that use them. Laura González, responsible for nutrition and health of Nestlé, explains it to us in a new delivery of the Nutrition Alphabet, of a thematic nature in 2018.
It is the substance that bees make and that they use as food for the queen queen larvae in their first days of life. It is soft yellow in color and its taste is slightly acidic.
Almost 60% of its composition is water. Followed by sugars. It is rich in B vitamins and also contains proteins, fats and minerals. It is a concentrated food and rich in nutrients since it is what ensures the survival of the queen bee. It is sold as a food supplement and therapeutic properties are attributed to it, such as:
- Sexual enhancer
- Delay of aging
But none has been proven with scientific evidence and for the most part these supposed therapeutic properties have been rejected by the European Food Safety Authority.
Propolis or bee pollen
It is a resinous substance produced by bees as a defense against intruders. It is also known as bees glue, beeswax or propolis resin. Its color varies between red, green, and dark brown. Propolis has a characteristic odor and adhesive properties and interacts strongly with oil and skin resins. The unprocessed propolis is composed of:
- 30% wax
- 50% resin and vegetable balm
- 10% essential oils
- 10% pollen
- Other substances
Since ancient times it has been attributed therapeutic properties and beneficial to health. The Mayans already used propolis for inflammatory processes and febrile syndromes. Nowadays propolis has an increasing importance as: therapeutic element alone, or introduced in medicines and homeopathic products or even also in cosmetics. It is sold in the form of extract or tinctures to be taken alone or with water and creams for topical use for skin alterations such as:
It occurs in all parts of the world where there are bees. They use the flora that surrounds the hives for their production, therefore their chemical composition can change according to the flora of the place.
Recent studies on propolis put the alert on the need to standardize quality controls to avoid the risk of elements that are not declared and that are contaminants. Its composition is very variable depending on the place of origin and thus the effect it can have on health is also variable, according to nutritionist Laura González.
Another exotic food is guarana, a climbing plant of the Amazon whose seeds contain approximately four times the amount of caffeine that is found in coffee beans, so it has a stimulating effect. Its use is very widespread among athletes as it can have an effect on their performance in both training and competition and this effect is due to the caffeine content of guarana.
The benefit on sports performance is obtained if approximately 3 milligrams of caffeine is delivered for each kilogram of the person’s body weight. One hour before the exercise, before the training, or the competition. And it is recommended in endurance sports, high intensity activities such as team sports and strength and power such as athletics, weightlifting …
Despite the growing use of guarana as an additive in energy drinks and nutritional supplement, the fact is that studies are lacking to know its effects on health. It can not be consumed by children, pregnant women, hypertensive people or people with insomnia or hyperactivity problems.
Maca root, another exotic food
It comes from Peru where it has been used since ancient times for its nutritional properties and supposedly healing. They are attributed properties on the feeling of well-being and mood, but as in most cases the scientific evidence so far has not endorsed.
There are some studies that conclude that it is an energy product that improves athletic performance at height. Between 50% and 60% of its composition are sugars and it is rich in antioxidants. Generally the root of maca is used in powder, in herbalists we can find it in capsules. It has a sweet and caramel flavor and can be incorporated into milkshakes, milk or cereals.
It is originally from China and later also extended to Japan and is currently sold worldwide. It is a type of green tea that is manufactured with different processes.
The leaf is collected, the impurities and stems are removed, and the clean leaves are steamed to prevent them from rusting, drying and grinding, thus obtaining a green powder. It is the only tea in which the whole leaves are consumed. In the rest of the teas, the leaves and stems are used, which after the infusion are discarded normally.
According to Laura González, it is thought that matcha tea has greater health benefits than other green teas. For this reason, it is now becoming a frequently requested product by consumers and its various positive effects on health are being investigated. It also has large amounts of antioxidants, amino acids and caffeine, because instead of just infusing the leaves and drinking the water, with matcha tea the leaves are also ingested in the infusion.
The plant is cultivated in soft and shady weather conditions, which gives it unique properties. Three to four weeks before the harvest, the plants are shaded by 90%, which improves the quality of the tea by increasing the ripening period. The percentage of antioxidants is much higher in plants grown in the shade.
In addition, the consumption of matcha tea , that is, the ingestion of matcha tea powder with the infusion, increases the absorption of antioxidants compared to any other green tea or any other tea in which only the infusion is consumed without consuming the leaves. Do not forget that like any tea, it has a stimulating effect, therefore it is not recommended for pregnant women, children, for people with hypertension or with problems falling asleep.