The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
The Many Incredible Health Benefits of Eating Garlic: Boosting Your Immune System
Garlic has been used for centuries as both a food ingredient and a medicine.
In fact, eating garlic can provide a wide variety of health benefits (1).
This article explains how garlic is particularly protective against the common cold and the flu.
Garlic Can Boost Immune Function
However, allicin is unstable, so it quickly converts to other sulphur-containing compounds thought to give garlic its medicinal properties (11).
These compounds have been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses, such as the viruses that cause the common cold or flu (5, 12).
Bottom Line: Garlic can be crushed, chewed or sliced to produce allicin, which is thought to give garlic its immune-boosting properties.
Can Garlic Help Prevent Colds and the Flu?
Garlic has shown promise as a treatment for preventing colds and the flu.
One study gave 146 healthy volunteers either garlic supplements or a placebo for three months. The garlic group had a 63 percent lower risk of getting a cold and their colds were also 70 percent shorter (13).
Another study found that colds were on average 61 percent shorter for subjects who ate 2.56 grams of aged garlic extract per day, compared to a placebo group. Their colds were also less severe (14).
If you often get sick with a cold or flu, eating garlic can help reduce your symptoms or prevent your illness entirely.
However, a review of the evidence found that many of the studies investigating the effects of garlic on the common cold were of poor quality (15).
It's also unknown if you need to take garlic constantly or if it also works as a short-term treatment when you start getting sick.
Bottom Line: Regularly eating garlic may help prevent the common cold or the flu. If you do get sick, eating garlic can reduce the severity of your symptoms and help you recover faster.
How to Maximize the Benefits of Garlic
The way garlic is processed or prepared can really change its health benefits.
The enzyme alliinase, which converts alliin into the beneficial allicin, only works under certain conditions. It can also be deactivated by heat.
However, it was noted that crushing garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes before cooking can help prevent the loss of its medicinal properties.
The researchers also state that the loss of health benefits due to cooking could be compensated for by increasing the amount of garlic used.
Here are a few ways to maximize the health benefits of garlic:
- Crush or slice all your garlic before you eat it. This increases the allicin content.
- Before you cook with your crushed garlic, let it stand for 10 minutes.
- Use a lot of garlic—more than one clove per meal, if you can.
Bottom Line: Ensure whole garlic is crushed, chewed or sliced before it's eaten. Let crushed garlic stand for 10 minutes before you cook it.
Another easy way to increase your garlic intake is by taking a supplement.
However, be cautious, as there are no regulated standards for garlic supplements.
That means the allicin content and quality can vary and so can the health benefits.
Powdered garlic is made from fresh garlic that has been sliced and dried. It does not contain allicin, but is said to have allicin potential.
Powdered garlic is processed at low temperatures and then put inside capsules to protect it from stomach acid.
This helps the enzyme alliinase survive the harsh environment of the stomach so that it can convert alliin to the beneficial allicin in the intestine.
Aged Garlic Extract
When raw garlic has been sliced and stored in 15–20 percent ethanol for more than 1.5 years, it becomes aged garlic extract.
This type of supplement does not contain allicin, but it does retain the medical properties of garlic. Many of the studies showing benefits against colds and the flu used aged garlic extract (2, 10, 20).
Garlic oil is also an effective supplement and is made by infusing raw garlic into cooking oils. You can add it directly to your meals or take it in capsules.
However, it's worth noting that animal studies have shown that garlic oil can be toxic to rats at higher doses and in certain conditions (21).
Bottom Line: Common types of garlic supplements include powdered garlic, aged garlic extract and garlic oil. Aged garlic extract may be the best type.
How Much Garlic Should You Eat Per Day?
The minimum effective dose for raw garlic is one segment (clove) eaten two to three times per day.
You can also take an aged garlic supplement. In that case, a normal dose is 600 to 1,200 mg per day.
High intakes of garlic supplements can be toxic, so don't exceed the dosage recommendations except if you know what you are doing.
Bottom Line: You can get a benefit from garlic by eating 2-3 garlic cloves per day. Supplement doses range from 600 to 1,200 mg per day.
Other Tips to Boost Immune Function
Here are five more ways to boost immune function and help you avoid colds and the flu:
2. Eat a healthy, balanced diet: Your whole diet is important. Getting a balance of important nutrients will make sure your immune system stays in good shape.
5. Take a zinc supplement: Take zinc lozenges or syrup within 24 hours of the start of a cold, as this may reduce the duration of the cold (35).
Bottom Line: A healthy diet and lifestyle are essential for keeping your immune system in good shape.
Take Home Message
Studies show that garlic can help fight colds and the flu. It can reduce your chances of catching an illness and help you recover faster.
To maximize these benefits, it is best to consume raw garlic or aged garlic extract.
At the end of the day, garlic is both tasty and super healthy. Then there are many other great reasons to include it in your diet.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Tuna auctions are a tourist spectacle in Tokyo. Outside the city's most famous fish market, long queues of visitors hoping for a glimpse of the action begin to form at 5 a.m. The attraction is so popular that last October the Tsukiji fish market, in operation since 1935, moved out from the city center to the district of Toyosu to cope with the crowds.
gmnicholas / E+ / Getty Images
Kristan Porter grew up in a fishing family in the fishing community of Cutler, Maine, where he says all roads lead to one career path: fishing. (Porter's father was the family's lone exception. He suffered from terrible seasickness, and so became a carpenter.) The 49-year-old, who has been working on boats since he was a kid and fishing on his own since 1991, says that the recent warming of Maine's cool coastal waters has yielded unprecedented lobster landings.
The climate crisis is getting costly. Some of the world's largest companies expect to take over one trillion in losses due to climate change. Insurers are increasingly jittery and the world's largest firm has warned that the cost of premiums may soon be unaffordable for most people. Historic flooding has wiped out farmers in the Midwest.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
'We Should Be Retreating Already From the Coastline,' Scientist Suggests After Finding Warm Waters Below Greenland
By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.