Flu season is officially upon us, and with COVID-19 numbers rising in many areas, we’re all doing our best to stay healthy and safe. But there’s one way of protecting yourself we bet you haven’t thought of — eating garlic for immunity.
Garlic for Immunity — How it Works
Smelly breath aside, garlic is known for some really impressive health benefits. In fact, eating garlic has been linked to better brain health and a reduced risk of heart disease. Even more relevant to current times, garlic has also impressively shown to improve immune system function.
When it comes to protecting from sicknesses, specific compounds in garlic come into play. Once garlic is chewed or crushed, the main active compound in it — called allicin — is released. Allicin contains high amounts of sulphur, which is what’s responsible for your less-than-pleasant garlic breath!
Once released, allicin quickly gets converted into other sulphur-containing compounds that are said to give garlic its immuno-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that these compounds enhance the body’s ability to fight disease and viruses like those that cause the flu and common cold.
Not only can eating garlic improve your overall immunity and help prevent you from getting sick, but it may also help reduce the severity of your symptoms should you fall ill. What’s more, it could even shorten the time that you are sick!
For one study, a team of researchers administered garlic supplements or a placebo to 146 healthy volunteers for three months. Results showed that subjects who took the garlic had a 63 percent lower risk of getting a cold. Plus, those that did get sick had colds which were 70 percent shorter than those who got sick in the placebo group!
Results from another study showed that cold symptoms were much less severe in a group of subjects that took garlic extract compared to a placebo group. Those taking the garlic also had colds that were on average 61 percent shorter. That’s a big difference!
How to Use Garlic for Immunity
Garlic is a little tricky in that it must be prepared in a specific way in order to preserve the healing properties of the allicin. Studies have shown that heating garlic in the microwave for 30 seconds or baking it in the oven for 45 minutes deactivated those important allicin compounds.
That being said, researchers from one study noted that there are ways to help preserve the allicin compounds in garlic when preparing it. They suggest crushing or slicing your garlic before eating it, and letting it stand for ten minutes before cooking to get the most out of it. Additionally, they suggest that using more garlic (more than one clove per meal) is another great way to maximize the benefits.
Otherwise, you could go the route of incorporating a garlic supplement into your daily routine. As always, get clearance from your doctor before starting any new supplement regiment. For one we love, try these Odorless Garlic Rapid Release Softgels from Puritans Pride (Buy on Amazon, $13.99).
Here’s to protecting ourselves with the best that nature has to offer — all season long!