Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Honey, Smoke & Testosterone: One Tablespoon of Honey Protects Your Leydig Cells From Oxidative Damage

Image 1: A beehive in one of the beehives Koompassia excelsa (‘Tualang’) trees which grow in the Rain Forest of Kedah, Malaysia.
"Have you already had your tablespoon of honey, Honey?" If that's what your girlfriend or wife asked you this morning, she is probably concerned about your testicular health... A group of Malaysian scientists has recently been able to show that 1.2g/kg/day (human equivalent: 0.2g/kg/day or about 1 tablespoon for an average adult man) of a off-the-shelf Malaysian Tulang honey protected the testis of rats, who had been exposed to cigarette some for 8 minutes three times per day, from damage and oxidative stress (Mohamed. 2011).

Before the experiment, the scientists had conducted FRAP and DPPHI assays to determine the in-vitro antioxidant activity of the sweet gummy superfood from "beehives built on a tall tree, Koompassia excelsa (locally named as ‘Tualang’ tree) that grows in the Rain Forest of Kedah".
Figure 1: Total phenolic content (Eq/kg), antioxidant activity (FRAP; ┬Ámol of Fe Eq/L), free radical scavenging activity (DPPH assay % inhibition of DPPH radicals) and sugar composition of the Tulang honey used in the study (data adapted from (Mohamed. 2011).
As the data in figure 2 shows, the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant effects of the honey (cf. figure 1), were so pronounced that the +234% increase in TBARS (thiobarbituric acid reactive substance) cigarette exposure induced in the unsupplemented group was completely abolished by the Tulang honey "supplement" (I deliberately put this into quotation-marks, because I would not consider the "human equivalent", i.e. putting a tablespoon of honey in the tea you have with breakfast as "supplement").
Figure 2: Effect of 13 weeks of honey supplementation (H: 1.2g/kg/day), exposure to cigarette smoke (CS: 8 min, 3x daily) or both (H+CS) on oxidative stress markers from rat testis (Mohamed. 2011).
Accordingly, the Leydig cell sections from the "smoking rats" that received supplemental honey (H+CS; -15% Leydig Cell count), did not show similarly pronounced degenerations as their standard fed peers in the CS (8min 3x daily exposure to cigarette smoke; -23% Leydig cell count) group (cf. figure 3).
Figure 3: Representative photomicrographs of testicular sections showing Leydig cells in intertubular space from the control, the cigarette smoke and the honey + cigarette smoke groups (graphic is based on photos from Mohamed. 2011).
Even if, as I would hope, you have not yet seen how "damaged" Leydig cells look like, the photomicrographs in figure 3 leave no doubt that even with the protective effect of honey, 13 weeks of only 24 minutes cigarette smoke exposure wreak havoc on the morphology of those cells of your best parts that are responsible for the production of testosterone.

Image 2: Believe it or not, despite the fact that it has carbs (you could also argue that it is pure sugar!) honey is not only good for your testis, but for your blood sugar levels as well (photo from readmyreview.com)
Just a quick note to all you sugar-haters out there who are afraid that the one tablespoon of honey will give you diabetes, heart attacks and strokes (let alone all those unaesthetic body fat you will gain ;-): A very recent review on the health effects of honey consumptions comes to the conclusion that (Cortes. 2011)
compared to glucose and sucrose, the consumption of honey decreases glycemic levels and blood lipids in healthy, diabetic and hyperlipidemic individuals. Moreover, long periods of honey intake seem to reduce fasting glucose levels in humans, suggesting that honey consumption influences plasma glucose regulation, mainly through a normo- or hypoglycemic effect.
Digest this before you pass on the honey, because "it has carbs in it!" *scary*
So, while we all know that testosterone won't make you aggressive (ScienceDaily. 2009), there is another sort of "testosterone-related" issue that always has me close to freaking out: Male and female tobacco junkies who dare to light their weeds right next to their own kids... and I bet you, those poor little buggers won't be fed a teaspoon (that should be enough given their smaller body weight) of Malaysian Tulang honey a day.

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