Adding garlic to your diet can keep you alive for longer
If your parents were as health-conscious as mine, you’ve probably been told how garlic is a basically cure for everything. Is garlic really that good for you? Let’s find out.
Garlic is actually a part of the onion family, along with leeks and shallots. There are usually 10-20 cloves per head of garlic.
Hippocrates used to prescribe garlic for a variety of ailments
The father of medicine was a big fan of the medicinal properties of this bulb, and he wasn’t on his own. In fact, many ancient civilizations recorded the health benefits of garlic. These include Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Rome and China. Was it garlic that gave them the power to conquer the world? Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but garlic is still a super food that you should be using to spice your food every day.
The US National Library of Medicine discusses how over 3000 publications have confirmed the positive health effects of garlic. These benefits include reducing fatigue, increasing exercise endurance or physical performance, and shortening recovery times of simple illnesses like the common cold.
The health benefits of garlic
Allicin is a sulfur compound that is released when garlic is crushed or chopped. Allicin is, however, an unstable compound and is only present briefly after the crushing or chopping process. Very Well Health explains that Allicin has very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and that allicin supplements have been shown to reduce heart disease and cancer risk. They also mention that allicin supplementation is used in alternative medicine to treat high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Alternative medicine practitioners also prescribe it for increased exercise performance.
Why antioxidants are so important
Antioxidants are important because they protect us against harmful free radicals. Free radicals are formed during the oxidation process. Oxidation is what makes peroxide bleach your hair – oxidation destroys the color pigment of hair follicles and is the reason why our hair turns grey or white as we age. The same thing happens within our bodies when food is broken down, when we are exposed to pollutants like cigarette smoke and when we are exposed to radiation.
This is what makes the antioxidants that we get from fresh fruit and vegetables so effective at preventing cancers and slowing down the aging process. Exercise also protects the body against free radical damage. To protect ourselves from free radical damage, we need to get as much of this micro-nutrient as we can.
Not all anti-oxidants are created equal – some are more potent than others. Super foods tend to contain the most powerful kinds of antioxidants, and allicin from garlic is one of them. What’s more, garlic has more than one form of antioxidant (although allicin is the most well-known one among them). The other antioxidants found in garlic are alliin, allyl cysteine, and allyl disulphide. You don’t have to memorize those names – just know that when you eat garlic, these little compounds work very hard to keep you young and strong.
In short: Antioxidants reduce the short term stress that day-to-day life places on your body and counteract long-term wear and tear.
The role of natural anti-inflammatories
Inflammation happens when white blood cells release certain chemicals to protect the body from harmful or foreign substances.
CBS News explains how eating natural, anti-inflammatory foods benefit overall health by reducing heart disease risk, decreasing blood triglyceride levels, combating high blood pressure and aiding the healing of stiff, damaged or arthritic joints. High levels of bodily inflammation are conducive to disease and illness formation. CBS quotes Russell Greenfield, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, as saying that any disease ending with ‘itis’ (like appendicitis and arthritis) involve high levels of inflammation. He goes on to say that inflammation plays a role in the formation of other diseases too – such as certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. The typical American diet contains too many foods that are high in Omega-6 fatty acids (found in fast food). Additionally, there are too little Omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance is what causes high levels of inflammation and phytochemicals (compounds found in plants – like allicin from garlic) reduce the inflammation that is caused by this imbalance.
In short: inflammation is your body’s negative response to unhealthy foods. This inflammation causes a variety of diseases, but can be reduced (and should be reduced BEFORE disease gets a chance to develop) by eating nutritious foods that cause a positive bodily response instead.
By now, you should be getting an idea about how adding garlic to your daily diet will increase overall vitality and empower your body to be the strongest version of itself.
Garlic has other beneficial micro-nutrients
Garlic is more than just an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory powerhouse. It contains other micro nutrients as well.
According to Nutrition Data, garlic is a great source of calcium, phosphorus, manganese and selenium (minerals that we need to survive, but often don’t get enough of); and a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6.
Wow, it looks like my parents were right after all! Adding a touch of garlic to your cooking is a great way to flavor healthy food that might be otherwise bland. Adding great flavors like garlic can also reduce the need for not-so-good flavors like artificial flavorings and salt. I don’t know about vampires, but it will definitely keep other killers out of your life. Thanks for reading!