Garlic: A Brief History
Going as far back as the Neolithic period, garlic was used throughout Asia, gradually spreading to Middle Eastern and Northern African territory before finding its way into Europe.
Scholars have indicated that the ancient Egyptian people used the herb for seasoning food, extend life span, and enhance strength, as well as a remedy to heal wounds and other conditions. In fact, archaeologists have found evidence that Egyptian slaves ate garlic to increase strength while constructing the pyramids.
Garlic arrived in the United States. over the past few centuries due to it’s use for cooking by Italian, Polish, and German, immigrants. However, the plant had it’s most notable day in the spotlight when the former Soviet Union allowed the US to harvest garlic grown in the Caucasus region in 1989.
Over the last 25 years or so, use of garlic has received widespread favor with the American palate. For example, on Amazon.com alone, there are over 800 garlic-centered cookbooks listed for sale. Farmers have taken notice and are working hard to meet the ever-growing demand. In 2013, garlic production saw yields of 3.9 million hundredweight (cwt), according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, which is the equivalent to one-twentieth of a ton.
So… what’s the most effective way to get your daily helping of garlic – and what do most individuals expect to enjoy when adding it to their fitness regimen?
Supplements vs. Food
The majority of nutritionists will agree that consuming nutrients from natural food sources is the best method of delivery. Lori L. Shemek, PhD, who is the head nutritional expert at the Huffington Post, says that garlic exhibits potent positive effects on overall health, and recommends that her patients use garlic supplements for it’s wide assortment of remarkable benefits.
Another expert, chiropractic physician and certified nutritionist Scott Schreiber, DC, agrees. According to Schreiber, garlic is one of the so-called “superfoods”, containing a wealth of minerals and vitamins and minerals while having very few calories.
Research shows that one of the main phytochemicals found in garlic, called allicin, has powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. It’s also been associated with enhanced athletic performance and the prevention of certain degenerative brain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Garlic also shows anti-inflammatory benefits, which helps to speed up the healing process.
Even though it might be difficult to tolerate for some individuals, consuming raw garlic raw delivers the best benefits. Schreiber says that over-heating garlic by cooking destroys some of the allicin it contains. On the other hand, too much garlic could have toxic effects, and he stresses that your daily consumption of raw garlic should not exceed 25 mg.
The bad news is, the same sulphuric compounds found in garlic that make such a positive impact on health can also create a disagreeable odor, commonly referred to as garlic breath. Therefore, garlic supplements might be a more practical option for most people.
Benefits and Risks of Taking Garlic Supplements
For one thing, garlic can lower LDL levels (or bad cholesterol), thereby reducing cardiovascular disease. Garlic supplements can also improve the immune system and the efficient production of new cells due to it’s high vitamin B6 content. This makes garlic supplementation a smart choice during the cold and flu season, since it’s been proven to be a powerful and effective preventative measure.
On top of that, garlic may play an important part in the prevention of several forms of cancer. These anti-cancer benefits occur due to garlic’s hydrogen sulfide signaling system.
Individuals with prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer and bladder cancer have all experienced a decrease in tumor size when using garlic treatment.
According to Shemek, taking garlic supplements also helps to diminish hunger and food cravings by reducing and balancing blood sugar levels.
Also, garlic assists with the removal of heavy metals, including lead and mercury, from the body, so if you have dental fillings, taking a garlic supplement might be a good idea. To receive the maximum benefits of heavy metal removal, take a twice daily dose of 400 mg twice a day to maximize effectiveness.
Some of the researchers conducting clinical trials on garlic supplementation gave participants doses between 300 and 600 mg twice per day. For treating certain conditions, this dosage could be increased, but should only be done so with the supervision of qualified health care professionals.
Also, people using blood-thinning medication should probably not use garlic supplements as garlic already has blood-thinning properties. As well, further research needs to be conducted in order to determine the effects on pregnant and nursing women, as well as in children.
You should also place an emphasis on the product’s quality before buying any supplement. Unfortunately, garlic supplements are not all created equally. If possible, make certain that you’re using a premium, pharmaceutical grade supplement. Also, people who have allergies should use caution when taking garlic supplements.
Shemek notes there is conflicting opinion about the effectiveness of real garlic vs. garlic supplements, and no definitive answers have been found so far. However, there’s been some clinical research as well as anecdotal evidence that confirms the therapeutic benefits from using garlic.