Garlic: Cold and Flu Fighter

We’re coming up on winter time again, and for many that means more colds, flus, coughs, sniffles and other annoying ills.    What natural remedy helps to keep you healthy during this time?  The answer is probably sitting in your kitchen cupboard.  It’s Garlic: cold and flu fighter also called natures antibiotic.

Garlic has been touted as a health booster for a long time, that’s nothing new.  Anecdotal evidence, old wive’s tales, and folk medicine are full of uses for the herb.  Turns out though, that they are actually pretty accurate.

A study done at the University of Alabama at Birmingham sheds some light on exactly why garlic is such a powerful herb.  In the study researchers extracted juice from supermarket garlic and added small amounts to human red blood cells.  The scientists discovered that the cells immediately began emitting hydrogen sulfide (HS2) which acts a cell messenger.

Interestingly, hydrogen sulfide is actually poisonous at high concentrations.  It is,in fact, the same smelly byproduct of the oil refining process that smells like rotting eggs.  But our bodies also make our own supply of hydrogen sulfide, which acts as an antioxidant in the body and transmits cellular signals that relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.

During the cold and flu season this natural antioxidant booster helps us stay healthy, fending off oncoming  illness causing germs. The fact that it also relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow also plays a key role in keeping us healthy.  Increased blood flow improves our immune system, it allows the body to operate more efficiently, sending white blood cells wherever they need to be in the body to ward off any unwanted invaders. 

While fending off colds and flu’s is a definite plus, the benefits of garlic go far beyond that.  Boosting hydrogen sulfide also helps to protect against many cancers, including breast, prostate,and colon cancers. The increase in hydrogen sulfide also appears to help protect the heart.  And improving blood flow and relaxing blood vessels certainly will help lower the risk of heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S.

How much garlic does it take?  The amounts used in the research were equal to about 2 cloves of garlic per day.  If you are not used to eating garlic that may seem like a lot, but in reality it isn’t.  In countries such as Italy, Korea, and China where the traditional diet uses lots of garlic in foods, per capita consumption averages 10 cloves per day.

If you simply start adding a bit of garlic to your favorite recipes, it is very easy to increase your garlic intake and benefit your health.

One thing to note though, rather than mince the garlic and toss it into your recipe to be cooked with the other ingredients, it is more beneficial to crush it and let it sit for about 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the recipe.  This activates enzymes that boost the healthy compounds of the herb.  Add the crushed garlic to your dish right at the very end so that it gets warm, but does not cook.

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