With winter just around the corner, now is the time to start dosing yourselves and your loved ones up with GARLIC! Garlic is one of my favourite medicinal foods. Not only does it taste great, it is incredibly good for you too. This short article will introduce you to some of the wonderful health benefits of adding garlic to your diet, as well as how to best eat and grow garlic!
Common cold/ immune enhancer
There are a plethora of studies demonstrating the immune- enhancing effects of garlic. One randomised study separated 146 participants into either the placebo group or the treatment group for 12 weeks over winter (Josling 2001). The treatment group were given allicin containing garlic supplements. The allicin group had significantly less colds than the placebo group. The placebo group also had significantly more days with viral symptoms, and significantly longer duration of symptoms. Garlic (particularly allicin) significantly lessens ones chance of getting colds in the first place, and then increases recovery time (Josling 2001). Now’s the time to start eating it as a healthy daily habit!
Cardiovascular and metabolic benefits
Not only an immune enhancer, but garlic is also widely recognised to have significant cardioprotective benefits. Numerous scientific, clinical studies have shown that it is a wonderful preventative and treatment for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. These include hyperlipidaemia, atherosclerosis, thrombosis, hypertension and diabetes (Banerjee & Maulik 2002; numerous research articles cited in Bayan et al 2014). In other words, garlic has been shown to lower blood pressure, prevent atherosclerosis, reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides, prevent blood clotting, and help break down blood clots (Chan et al 2013). These are big killers in western nations, and to think that our common garlic can help significantly! To prevent such illness, all you have to do is eat it! For high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes etc garlic supplementation is required via tablets.
Most people today attempt to stay healthy by preoccupying themselves with staying clean from germs. However, you are fighting a losing battle, as germs are EVERYWHERE- around, on and IN you! It is better to keep your body strong and healthy so the ‘bad’ germs don’t take hold! Eating garlic, the natural antibiotic, is one of the best ways to do this.
Many studies have proven that garlic is effective against numerous gram-positive, gram-negative and acid-fast bacteria. These include Salmonella, E. Coli, Pseudomonas, Proteus, Staphlococcus aureus, Klebsiella, bacillus subtulis, clostridium and helicobacter to name a few (numerous research articles cited in Bayan et al 2014). So not only can you prevent getting sick from bacteria in the first place but you can treat it with garlic also. Yes, even the antibiotic resistant bacteria such as gram-negative types. Impressive.
Moreover, there are numerous epidemiological research studies demonstrating the link between a decreased risk of cancer (especially stomach and colon cancer) and garlic consumption (Fleischauer & Arab 2001; Bayan et al 2014). With cancer as one of the top causes for death in Australia, simply adding it to your daily diet is worth it!
Other impressive benefits
If cardioprotective, immune-enhancing and cancer preventative properties aren’t enough to convince you to eat it regularly, there are many other benefits too. It has also been shown to be antifungal, antiviral, antiprotozoal, anti-tumour, and help treat diabetes, cardiovascular and liver toxicity (cited in Bayan et al 2014). The selenium contributes to heavy metal and chemical detoxification by the liver. Wow! I often use it in clinic to treat ear infections, respiratory infections, hypertension, candida, parasites and many other acute infections. Book in to heal your body naturally this winter.
Best way to eat garlic
The best way to eat garlic is to crush it, let it sit, and eat it! The organosulfur compounds in crushed garlic are attributed with the beneficial health effects (Schafer & Kaschula 2014). Eating it both cooked and raw offers the numerous benefits. But however you eat it, make sure you crush it first to activate the allinase enzymes. Then let it sit for up to 10 minutes to allow the enzymes to convert the allin into allicin to get the most medicinal benefits. Allicin will then form the benefical organosulfur compounds.
Eat one crushed garlic clove a day (2-5g) for wonderful, preventative health benefits. Add crushed garlic to oil dressings raw, crush it into your soups, stews, casseroles, or roasts either before serving, or during cooking. Eat it raw sometimes, and other times eat it cooked so as you maximise the health benefits of your health-promoting, garlic consumption.
What does garlic contain?
One close of garlic contains: 7 calories, 0.31g protein, 0.01g fat, 1.5g carbohydrate, 1.4mg calcium, 10mg phosphorus, 0.07mg iron, 0.9mg sodium, 26mg potassium, 0.01mg BI, 0.004mg B2, 0.02mg niacin, 0.75mg C and trace amounts of selenium. It also contains the much sort after alliin and allicin, the sulphur compounds that are incredibly health promoting. Much more than a spice, this medicinal food is powerful!
Grow your own garlic
Growing a garlic crop each year is one of my favourite veggie patch activities. Much of the Australian garlic is imported and has been treated with chemicals. You can void this by growing your own or buying organic.
Garlic needs to be planted in autumn so it has the cold winter months to form the heads. We planted ours last week. Simply break apart the heads into single cloves. With the pointy end upwards, push each single clove into the soil about 4-7cm deep. Water and weed as needed. Apply comfrey tea or other organic liquid fertiliser during spring to ensure a huge healthy crop of garlic.
Garlic varieties store from between 5 and 12 months. We enjoy our home grown, organic garlic all year round, until we harvest our next crop at the end of the year.
Take home message
Eat a clove of fresh, organic, raw or cooked garlic every day to help prevent cardiovascular disease cancer, bacterial infections, viral infections, and overall enhance your immune system. Eat lots of garlic if you have a cold or flu for a speedy recovery this winter. Eating garlic as part of a well balanced, fresh healthy diet will go a long way to helping you live a healthy and happy life.
Book in to see Sari when your next acute illness strikes. You may be prescribed garlic!
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To the ‘stinking rose of mirth’!