Garlic has been used since ancient times as a food flavoring and for its medicinal value. Garlic is still recognized for its nutritional benefit and its antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. All of these can help to naturally cleanse your colon by removing toxins, pathogens and parasites from your body. Additionally, as a proven anti-inflammatory, garlic may help reduce inflammation in your entire digestive system to improve absorption of food nutrients, digestion and the elimination of wastes.
Garlic in a Balanced Diet
Garlic benefits your digestive health by providing your body with the nutrition the bulb offers. The garlic bulb consists of small cloves, and each of these is a powerhouse of nutrition for the health of your colon and your whole body.
According to SELFNutritionData, essential vitamins in three cloves include 5 percent DV for vitamin C and 6 percent DV for vitamin B6. In addition, garlic contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 and folate. The B vitamins are necessary for keeping your digestive system running efficiently. For example, vitamin B3 is required to metabolize food, produce gastric juice and help with the secretion of bile — all important for the digestion of fat.
Reap the Benefits of Allicin
Eat garlic to get allicin's antioxidant benefit for maintaining the health of your colon. Garlic contains allicin, a sulfur-containing phytonutrient responsible for garlic's strong odor and its many healing properties. Sulfur is an abundant mineral in your body and vital for the formation of muscles, skin and bones. In addition to having powerful antioxidant and antibacterial properties, allicin strengthens the immune system to provide healing and anti-cancer benefits, including cancer of the bowels, according to ScienceDirect.
Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk
Want to reduce the risk of colon cancer? Heap on the garlic at mealtime, suggests the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), which reports the cancer-preventive agents of garlic's allicin sulfur components help with DNA repair and slow the growth of cancer cells and the formation of colon tumors.
AICR recommends including garlic as part of a well-balanced diet and advises that the more raw or cooked garlic you eat, the more you can decrease your risk of cancer. The National Cancer Institute says an increased intake of garlic reduces the risk of cancers of the digestive tract, specifically the esophagus, stomach and pancreas.
Eating garlic for colon health may kill parasites — possibly a result of its anti-inflammatory properties. Raw garlic is an old home remedy for worms, and a study conducted on animals may dispel any suspicion of an old wives' tale. Four groups of mice were treated with garlic oil for worms.
The results, published in Parasitology Research, found that garlic reduced the number of worms in groups receiving garlic in the first week of the study. Garlic given later had little effect. The researchers surmised that this difference might be that garlic was affecting, not the worms directly, but the immune system, blocking inflammation.
Help Prevent Lung Cancer
Garlic is beneficial to other cancers besides those originating in the gastrointestinal system, so eating garlic is good for decreasing overall risk. According to a study at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China, people who ate raw garlic at least twice a week for seven years had a 44 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer. The conclusion, published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research in 2013, suggests that garlic may be a chemo-preventive agent for lung cancer.
Keep Colds Away
If you eat garlic, you're less likely to get sick, thanks to its antibacterial and antiviral properties. If you do catch a cold, chewing fresh, raw garlic helps break up nasal congestion. A study published in the Cochrane Library in 2014 found that people who consumed garlic daily for three months had fewer colds than the group who took placebos — 24 occurrences as opposed to 65. The length of illness from the cold was the same in both groups.
How to Maximize Benefits
The way garlic is processed or prepared can really change its health benefits:
- Crush, chop or slice your garlic before you eat it. This releases the allicin content, says the Linus Pauling Institute.
- Before you cook with your crushed
garlic, let it stand for 10 minutes.
- Use a lot of garlic — more than one
clove per meal provides the most benefits.
- Don't heat garlic in the microwave. It takes as little as 60 seconds to inactivate the healthy allicin compound, warns Medical Daily.
- SELFNutritionData: Raw Garlic
- American Institute for Cancer Research: 4 Reasons Eating Garlic is Good for Cancer Prevention
- NIH: National Cancer Institute: Garlic and Cancer Prevention
- Cochrane: Garlic for the Common Cold
- Medical Daily: 6 Healthy Foods That Lose Their Nutritional Value in the Microwave: To Nuke or Not to Nuke?
- Oregon State University: Linus Pauling Institute: Garlic and Organosulfur Compounds
- AACR Publications: Cancer Prevention Research: Raw Garlic Consumption as a Protective Factor for Lung Cancer
- Parasitology Research: Effects of Dietary Intake of Garlic on Intestinal Trematodes
- ScienceDirect: Learn More About Allicin
- ScienceDirect: Food and Chemical Toxicology: Short-term Heating Reduces the Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Fresh Raw Garlic Extracts on the LPS-Induced Production of NO and Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines by Downregulating Allicin Activity in RAW 264.7 Macrophages