About how healthy garlic is, its benefits and positive effects on your immune system
Today we want to talk about the undervalued topic of garlic. In this article, you will find out how healthy garlic is and its ingredients.
You will also learn about garlic’s known and less known effects, as well as how this aromatic root vegetable affects your immune system.
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What is garlic and where does it come from?
Garlic belongs to the leek family, and it is botanically called “Allium sativum”. It is a spice and medicinal plant. Its effects were so convincing that it was voted medicinal plant of the year in 1989.
This root vegetable originally comes from Central Asia. Many other countries grow it, or the garlic occurs in an overgrown form.
The root that we can buy here in America mostly comes from China. Due to the long transport routes, however, it loses most of its aroma. American garlic, which is mainly grown in California, offers more flavor.
The garlic plant resembles an onion plant. The tuber grows underground and forms a stem with small broods.
Due to the intense smell of garlic, the plant keeps out the majority of pests and predators. So, this smell aids in protecting the plant.
Louis Pasteur discovered the positive properties of garlic in the 19th century. He wasn’t the first, however.
The Egyptians already gave garlic to eat to their slaves, among other things, as a strengthening remedy. They wanted to prevent plagues and outbreaks with lice and parasites.
In the Middle Ages, it was used to treat bite wounds, hair loss and menstrual problems. Where do these effects come from and can they be scientifically proven?
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What are the ingredients of garlic?
Since garlic is a plant, there are many vitamins and minerals in the tuber. Amongst other things:
Vitamin B (Vitamin B12 Deficiency – Foods That Help Fight The Deficit)
Secondary plant substances
Essential oils and sulfur compounds
We usually consume garlic in small quantities, thus, the positive properties of these vitamins and minerals are not so apparent. What makes garlic so special is the sulfur compounds.
Alliin, which is a non-proteinogenic amino acid, is particularly worth mentioning here. Together with the enzyme alliinase, it becomes allicin, which is responsible for the typical garlic smell.
Alliin only exits when the cells get damaged. So when we cut the clove of garlic, press or chew it. Due to the instability, this converts allicin into further sulfur compounds.
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Garlic contains other sulfur compounds
Gamma glutamyl-L- cysteine
Alliinase or the preparation create further compounds such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl thiosulfonate or ajoene.
These sulfur compounds produce the positive properties of the bulb of garlic. But which are they actually?
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What are the effects of garlic?
Several hundred years ago, even before the discovery of antibiotics as we know them today, people recognized the antiviral and antibacterial effects of the tuber.
It is even said to prevent fungal infections to a certain extent. This happens primarily through the sulfur compounds. The antibacterial effect is particularly effective in caries and infections in the oral cavity.
There are a number of bacteria in the human intestine, including E. coli. There is a strain (EHEC) of this bacterium that produces Shiga toxin, which can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome.
Garlic also has an antibacterial effect on these Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria and reduces their biofilm production.
A study group of 160 volunteers took garlic supplements or a placebo over the winter months from November to February.
The group taking garlic became less likely to get sick and overcame the cold symptoms faster than the group receiving placebo. The tuber can prevent colds.
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Other generally know effects of garlic
Lowering blood pressure
However, there are also effects that are less well known.
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Many new studies reveal more and more effects of garlic. For example, the tuber can provide support with drug therapies.
In animal experiments, garlic extract was able to reduce side-effects of cyclophosphamide therapy, such as changes in the blood count, through antioxidative and immunomodulatory effects.
Garlic and the immune system
It can also make a positive contribution to chronic diseases. Garlic can support the treatment of cancer and liver diseases through sulfur compounds.
It is important to know that black garlic has a stronger antioxidant effect than fresh garlic. You can find out more about the black garlic in my next article.
Garlic can also protect against chemically induced tumor diseases and slow tumor growth. The tuber can, therefore, have a positive effect on lifespan through these mechanisms of action.
This effect is reinforced by activities against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s dementia.
Colonization of certain bacteria in the intestines causes some autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation or the functionality of the fat metabolism.
Chemical and bacterial imbalances can trigger these diseases. Garlic can help alleviate these disorders. So it can counteract SIBO and have a preventive effect on autoimmune diseases.
The immune system benefits from the sulfur compounds because they activate neutrophil granulocytes and can increase the function of phagocytes.
In type 1 diabetes, garlic can lower blood sugar and have a positive effect on liver enzymes.
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Garlic and chronic pain
Supplementing with garlic for 12 weeks can relieve pain in overweight women with osteoarthritis. This is not the only positive effect of being overweight and its consequences.
Garlic can help with the diet to help reduce BMI. If you suffer from obesity, regular garlic consumption can reduce TNF-alpha and interleukin-6 levels, and, thus, it lowers the risk of chronic diseases.
Alcohol is one of the main causes of severe liver diseases such as cirrhosis. Garlic can have a protective effect and prevent alcohol-induced liver diseases.
In animal experiments, autoimmune encephalomyelitis causes the autoimmune disease MS (Multiple Sclerosis).
An extract of aged black garlic, S-allyl cysteine, showed to reduce axonal demyelination and spinal cord axon loss in one study. So this extract could improve multiple sclerosis naturally.
Raw garlic has a positive effect on the four components of metabolic syndrome, and one can, therefore, use it to prevent and treat this syndrome. The four components include overweight, increased triglyceride levels, diabetes and high blood pressure.
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Thanks to their valuable ingredients, garlic strengthens the immune system, heart, intestine and helps in the fight against chronic and autoimmune diseases.
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