Not only is this vegetable powerfully aromatic but it has similarly powerful effects on the body. Depending on your unique health situation, garlic digestion effects may be helpful or harmful. Before you make your next garlic-heavy dish, be sure you understand how garlic may affect your body.
Read more: 10 Incredible Garlic Hacks
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Garlic digestion side effects are not the only ways in which this aromatic vegetable impacts the body. Other potential benefits of eating garlic are:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Lessened inflammation
- Increased immune cell function
- Clearer skin
Furthermore, a January-February 2014 comprehensive review in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine explains that people have believed in garlic's healing abilities since the day of the ancient Egyptians. This review also found that garlic may balance cholesterol levels and may reduce insulin resistance.
How Garlic Helps Digestive Tract
Perhaps one of the most positive garlic side effects is its possible power to prevent cancer. A 2015 meta analysis in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that consuming garlic seems to lower the risk for gastric cancer. Even low levels on consumption led to this garlic side effect, though moderate intake had more of an impact.
Experts attribute garlic's strong aroma and healing properties to its high concentration of the phytonutrient allicin, which contains sulfur. Because of the healing properties of allicin, people use garlic to complete colon cleanses. This is often done to prevent colon cancer.
The Cleveland Clinic also reports that garlic has antibacterial properties. This can help ward off germs that cause food poisoning, such as salmonella and E.coli. However, seasoning food with garlic is not a substitution for proper food handling.
According to the Mayo Clinic, beneficial garlic side effects also include its prebiotic properties. Prebiotic foods like garlic, whole grains, leafy greens and bananas help balance the microorganisms in a person's digestive system. They give so-called good bacteria the energy it needs to thrive, which can promote healthy digestion.
Read more: Which Is Healthier, Raw or Cooked Garlic?
When Garlic Hurts Digestive Tract
While this vegetable can provide several benefits, garlic digestion problems are relatively common. For example, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) avoid irritants like garlic, caffeine, citrus and alcohol. People with GERD are not the only ones who may experience garlic sensitivity.
According to Tufts Medical Center, garlic is also high in fructans, a naturally occurring carbohydrate. Some people have fructans intolerances, which means their bodies have trouble digesting high-fructans foods such as garlic, cabbage, broccoli, wheat products and asparagus. These foods can cause pain and bloating in the abdomen when someone with fructans intolerance eats them.
Finally, people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may also need to avoid garlic. Harvard Health Publishing recommends following a low-FODMAP diet to control IBS symptoms. While not all people with IBS experience negative garlic side effects, the low-FODMAP diet recommends not eating too much garlic.
- Nutrition and Cancer: "Meta-analysis: Does Garlic Intake Reduce Risk of Gastric Cancer?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "6 Surprising Ways Garlic Boosts Your Health"
- Mayo Clinic: "What are Probiotics and Prebiotics?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Lifestyle Guidelines for the Treatment of GERD"
- Tufts Medical Center: "Fructans Intolerance"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Try a FODMAPs Diet to Manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome"
- Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine: "Garlic: A Review of Potential Therapeutic Effects"