Garlic has been around for a long time and, to be honest, is somewhat taken for granted. We know it’s good for us, but it has a bad reputation for making everyone’s breath stink, so many people avoid it. Whether you adore garlic or despise it, it is at the heart of many cuisines around the world, and many dishes would taste quite strange without it. But, aside from its distinct flavor, garlic has incredible medicinal properties that benefit your health—and your love life!
Garlic’s pungent odor and sharp taste are caused by sulfur-containing compounds, specifically allicin. Allicin, a powerful component of garlic, is known for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. To have the greatest effect, allicin must be ‘activated’ in garlic. In fact, allicin is only produced when the garlic clove is crushed or chopped—a long-standing plant defense mechanism. Once the garlic has been crushed or minced, it must sit for a minute to allow the enzymes to activate the powerful phytochemicals in the garlic and produce allicin.
Let’s look at some of the amazing ways garlic can benefit your health:
1. A Natural Antibacterial Agent
Antibiotic resistance is becoming a major global concern, as the overuse of antibiotics in large-scale meat production has resulted in the emergence of a new class of antibiotic-resistant super bacteria. If there are no medical antibiotics that can kill the bacteria, even minor bacterial infections in humans become a serious health issue. Garlic has been shown in scientific studies to kill a variety of common and dangerous bacteria, including: campylobacter jejuni (causes food poisoning), pseudomonas aeruginoasa (causes pneumonia and urinary infections), E.coli (causes food poisoning), staphylococcus aureus, klebsiella pneumonia (causes pneumonia and meningitis), shigella sonnei (causes diarrhea and dysentery), salmonella typhi (typhoid fever), as well as helicobacter pylori responsible for stomach ulcers and cancer.
“Crude garlic extract…was superior to all conventional antibiotics used, except streptomycin,” one scientist wrote. Garlic may have immune-stimulatory properties in addition to its antibacterial properties.”
Vancomycin is currently one of the most potent last-resort antibiotics, but it has a slew of serious side effects. However, even vancomycin is no longer effective against some resistant strains of enterococcal bacteria (VRE). Garlic has been shown to inhibit this superbug as well as anthrax, a lethal bacterium.
While there are still some conventional antibiotics that work on superbugs, they kill both beneficial and harmful bacteria. Beneficial bacteria, as we now know, are extremely important to our physical, emotional, and mental health, and killing them with strong antibiotics actually weakens our immune systems. Garlic, fortunately, distinguishes between good and bad bacteria, and–even better–it contains prebiotic oligosaccharides, which are nondigestible carbohydrates that feed our healthy bacteria.
2. Kills Candida Without Causing Harm
Candida albicans is a type of fungus that can live in the gastrointestinal tract. Candida is an opportunistic fungal infection that thrives on glucose and starchy foods, so our beneficial bacteria usually keep it under control. It can grow out of control if our diet is off-kilter, or if our immune system is compromised by allergies or other illnesses. This can be a problem for many women because candida can also cause an unpleasant vaginal infection. Candida can be chronic for many people, causing brain fog, allergies, digestive issues, bloating, weight gain, and other symptoms. There are prescription antifungals available, but they are harsh on our systems and the liver. Garlic is unrivaled! Allicin has been shown in studies to be as effective as, if not more effective than, common pharmaceuticals in suppressing growth and killing off excess candida.
3. Maintains Blood Sugar Stability
Obesity and diabetes have become an epidemic on a global scale. Refined sugars in almost all of our food supply, combined with sugary soft drinks and fruit drinks, have wreaked havoc on our bodies, resulting in chronically high blood sugar, weight gain, heart disease, infections, kidney and eye disease, and other health problems. Raw garlic has been shown to modulate blood sugar, reduce damage to our bodies, and reverse inflammation and oxidative stress. Garlic improves insulin sensitivity, allowing blood sugar levels to be more stable.
4. Helps to Prevent Heart Disease and Blood Clots
Many doctors still prescribe dangerous statins to lower cholesterol. Unfortunately, statins have a long list of negative side effects, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, liver damage, cancer, neurodegeneration, and muscle weakness (including your heart). If you can reduce your LDL cholesterol naturally, you should be much better off. LDL cholesterol levels can be reduced by combining a low-carb/low-sugar diet, exercise, and garlic. Garlic can help prevent heart disease by regulating cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and preventing arterial plaque buildup.
Blood clots are one of the leading causes of heart disease. Blood clots travel along arteries until they reach a narrow spot, where they become stuck, cutting off blood flow and oxygen—this results in a heart attack or stroke. Certain people are more likely to develop blood clots due to a variety of factors, including diet, but garlic helps to thin the blood in a healthy way. Aspirin was once recommended by the medical establishment as a preventative measure against blood clots, but the Food and Drug Administration recently reversed this recommendation. When it comes to anticoagulants, garlic’s allicin is at the top of the list.
High blood pressure is another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. Drugs used to control blood pressure frequently have numerous negative side effects, including impotency, making them unsuitable. Garlic outperformed atenolol, a popular beta-blocker hypertension medication, according to research published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Science.
5. Helps to Prevent Lung Cancer
Garlic breath can be unpleasant, but it is one of the ways it helps your lung tissue. Garlic’s potent compounds are extremely beneficial to lung health. According to this study, eating raw garlic twice a week or more reduces the risk of lung cancer by a whopping 44%! Allicin also relieves congestion and irritation in the lungs and aids in the prevention of pneumonia.
6. Promotes Pancreatic Health and Insulin Production
Our pancreas aids in the production of insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels. However, given today’s sugar and carb-heavy diets, the pancreas is working overtime to produce insulin in sufficient quantities to counteract glucose levels. The pancreas can become exhausted over time and stop working properly or producing insulin. Diabetes is a disease. Garlic contains allicin, which aids in the repair of the pancreas and allows it to produce more insulin. It is effective for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
7. Garlic is a Woman Magnet!
While scientists have observed that many animals are more attracted to males who eat a high nutrient, high antioxidant diet—for example, blue footed boobys (a Galapagos bird) attract mates by the bright blue of their feet, which comes from the antioxidants in their diet. A similar thing may be true in humans, though we look for scents and skin colors rather than blue feet.
42 men snacked on raw garlic or swallowed garlic capsules in a series of experiments published in Appetite in 2016, then wore cotton pads under their armpits for 12 hours. The pungent samples were later evaluated by 14 women, who rated garlic eaters’ body odor as more pleasant, attractive, and masculine when compared to men who did not consume any garlic. The researchers hypothesize that because garlic increases antioxidant levels in the body and kills harmful bacteria, it may change the way our sweat smells, signaling healthiness to potential mates. So, while garlic breath on the first date may not win you any points, garlic-enhanced body odor apparently will!
Many pharmaceuticals are based on naturally occurring substances—the laboratory attempts to mimic nature, but concentrates and isolates active ingredients so that when synthesized into a medicine, they have side effects—often dangerous side effects.
Rather than ingesting a synthetic version of a natural product, it is preferable to consume the natural substance in its entirety. Your body is better able to use the beneficial ingredients, as well as all of the other natural substances, to heal and promote wellness.