Health Food Spotlight: Garlic
Garlic has been traditionally used for its medicinal properties for centuries. During cold seasons, it can be an excellent tool for promoting and maintaining wellness. A large, 12-week study found that daily garlic consumption (via food or supplement) reduced the frequency of developing common colds significantly, and lessened the duration of symptoms significantly (Josling, 2001). Some of the immune system benefits of garlic include:
- Antibacterial and antiviral properties: Garlic contains numerous compounds (allicin, ajoene, other aliphatic sulfides) that have been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral effects. These compounds can help to fight off infections and support the immune system. And, garlic has been called “nature’s antibiotic” by many.
- Antioxidant/anti-inflammatory properties: Garlic contains antioxidants (example: diallyl disulfide) that help to protect the body against free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to inflammation. Some of these compounds also lessen the effects of “pro-inflammatory cytokines”. By reducing inflammation, these antioxidants can help your immune system function more optimally.
- Immune-boosting nutrients: Garlic is a low-calorie source of immune-boosting nutrients such as vitamin C, selenium, and zinc. These nutrients are important for maintaining a healthy immune system.
Keep in mind, garlic has a strong taste and odor, so consider this when planning consumption. Raw garlic can cause stomach upset in some people. Don’t consume garlic if you have a known allergy. Garlic contains sulfur; don’t consume garlic if you have a known allergy to sulfur.
- Josling, P. (2001). Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: A double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Advances in Therapy, 18(4), 189–193. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf02850113