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Garlic Benefits for the Immune System


Audra Bianca

The immune system is the major system in the body that protects against foreign substances such as microorganisms. As a component of the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract, or GI tract, plays an important role in the body’s immune response to foreign substances. When a human consumes solids or liquids, these substances pass along the digestive system to the GI tract. In the lining of the GI tract, lymph tissues protect the body from harmful components contained in consumed solids or liquids.

Garlic is known as Allium sativum. It is related to other onion-type plants, including onions, shallots, chives, and leeks. Garlic grows on farms and in the wild. The most common part of the garlic plant is the bulb, which can be divided by natural sections called cloves. When garlic is used in cooking, it provides a spicy taste and health benefits. Multiple research studies have confirmed what centuries of medical practice have suggested - garlic works as a natural antibiotic.

When garlic is consumed in the human body, it is transported through the digestive system to the intestines. In the intestinal lining, garlic kills harmful bacteria. Without the immune system being able to kill the bacteria through a normal immune response in which the antibody kills the antigen, harmful bacteria would possibly pass through the intestines and circulate into the bloodstream. Because garlic provides a natural prevention for bacterial infection, it is ideal for inclusion in the human diet in as many forms as possible. For example, cooks can chop garlic and add it as a flavour ingredient to pastas, pizzas, salads, breads, soups, meat and poultry dishes, and salad dressings.

One Cornell study in 1998 surveyed food recipes from around the world. Garlic, along with onion, allspice, and oregano, was chosen as a top bacteria killer. The study noted how garlic had been used for centuries by societies living in hot climates. Garlic kills bacteria, or microbes, that cause food to spoil, especially in hot climates where refrigeration is scarce.

Cornell researchers noted in the Quarterly Review of Biology: “Countries with hotter climates used spices more frequently than countries with cooler climates. Indeed, in hot countries nearly every meat-based recipe calls for at least one spice, and most include many spices, especially the potent spices….” The next time you cook with garlic, think of how this garlic has prevented food spoilage for thousands of years.

Garlic has also been prepared and marketed as a supplement called Allicin. This supplement is supported by practitioners using other derivatives of garlic. During the European Renaissance period, garlic was a successful anecdote for poisons, bites, swelling, ulcers, plague, and smallpox. In 1858, Louis Pasteur observed that garlic killed live bacteria when they were doused directly with garlic. In the 20th century, Albert Schweitzer used garlic to treat cholera and typhoid in Africa.

Consumers who want to understand more about the healing powers of garlic and the use of garlic supplements should consult a physician or a health practitioner. Consuming garlic naturally promotes good health.

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