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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

11 Amazing Health Benefits of Garlic (Backed by Science)

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11 Amazing Health Benefits of Garlic (Backed by Science)

What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of garlic? You probably think of the smell. You might have even been reminded of a junior high trauma after the garlic smell scared off your crush. Or you could even think of a high-end cuisine that was spiced up with this incredible delicacy. However, I bet you didn’t think of the incredible, science-backed health benefits of garlic, a potent vegetable (and yes…garlic is technically a vegetable and not a spice).

Throughout this article, prepare to have you mind blown with the potential of garlic and how this “natural supplement” can power up your life!

1. Potent Medicine

While we might think of garlic as a mere spice today, people in ancient times used it primarily as medicine!

According to science, most of the benefits are caused by the “sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed”[1].

Because of these properties, garlic can help with detoxification and the health of our joints. If that doesn’t leave you wanting to pop some garlic along with your supplements, I don’t know what will!

2. Improves Blood Flow

A 2004 study came to the conclusion that garlic intake helped to significantly increase blood flow to various areas of the body[2]. The study suggested that this was due to the way garlic affected levels of interleukin-6, a chemical that affects inflammation in the body. Whatever the reason, increased blood flow is a major health benefit of garlic!

3. Boosts the Immune System

I’m sure this one doesn’t come as much of a surprise! Ever since many of us were kids, we were fed garlic at the first onset of a cold! One study discovered that, in a 12-week timespan, daily garlic pills reduced the number of cold by 63% compared to a placebo[3].

Evidence for this was based on both traditional use and some evidence that garlic contains both antimicrobial and anti-viral properties.

Needless to say, garlic could be an essential powerhouse to keep in your arsenal!

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4. Boosts Metabolism

I’m sure you all were wondering, so here it is. YES! Garlic does actually help boost metabolism!

I’m sure you might be wondering how. The first way is that it comes packed with vitamin C, B6, manganese, and calcium, all of which are essential for fat loss. Second is that garlic can lower insulin resistance, which is such an important factor for a healthy metabolism and weight! Not only that, but garlic also can be helpful to detox our body; an essential factor in losing weight.

Our friends might not appreciate our love for garlic, but our bodies sure do!

5. Cleanses the Body

It might seem counter-intuitive that something with such a pungent smell could actually help cleanse your body, but it can. Well…from the inside anyway!

The sulfhydryl compounds in garlic are incredibly powerful in helping to rid your body of toxins[4]. While, for the most part, our liver does a fantastic job of cleansing our body, we also live in a very toxic world. That being said, getting a little assistance definitely can’t hurt!

The properties in garlic can actually help boost detox enzymes in our bodies. Garlic can work synergistically with milk thistle, if you want an even more powerful detox. Some people even drink garlic with warm lemon water each morning for a bonus detox boost.

So, yes! Garlic can definitely clean your insides. However, you might want to put a little extra TLC into cleaning the rest if you choose to chew it raw.

6. Reduces Cholesterol

High cholesterol seems to be a battle many people are fighting these days. Thankfully, with the amazing health benefits of garlic, this powerful little vegetable could come to the rescue!

While evidence is limited, there have been some cases to show that garlic reduces cholesterol[5]. Since it has been proven to lower insulin resistance when taken consistently, this would make sense.

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Studies show that it should be taken daily for at least eight weeks to see results. However, the results might be limited, so it’s important to help solve the problem with regular exercise and diet as well.

For more on how to naturally reduce cholesterol, check out this article: Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

7. Increases Athletic Performance

It might make you smell your sweat more, but can garlic actually increase athletic performance? Some people say yes!

For one, garlic is high in antioxidants, which can help protect the body from stress (including the stress of working out). However, there might be another scientific reason for this as well. Garlic can increase nitric oxide[6], which in turns dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow. This is the same reason why beets are known to increase workout performance.

Garlic was one of the first athletic enhancements on the market! In fact, garlic was used by athletes even in ancient Greece[7].

With all these benefits, it definitely can’t hurt to try and see if it helps you!

8. Anti-Fungal Properties

Garlic doesn’t stop at just killing off viruses and bad bacteria in your body. It kills fungi, too! This is one of the major health benefits of garlic.

With the modern S.A.D diet (Standard American Diet) many of us have become accustomed to, our bodies have become practical breeding grounds of microbes we don’t want around. Fungus could be very likely included in that list.

Candida is a fungus that all of us have. However, some studies have shown that candida could “overgrow” in our bodies[8] as a result of too much sugar, processed foods, and an overall poor diet. Some studies suggest that this could result in weight gain, cravings, and many other poor side effects.

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Many people who experience athlete’s foot have already experienced the side effects of candida and fungus overgrowth.

Thankfully, garlic can be a powerful component in fighting off this negative overgrowth! With the same properties that make it an anti-microbial, garlic is powerful at fighting off many other unwanted visitors in your body.

9. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Anti-inflammatory has become somewhat of a buzzword these days! But for good reason. Many people claim that inflammation could actually be a leading cause for disease.

This chronic inflammation has left many with conditions like diabetes, allergies, and arthritis, just to name a few! To help cure these issues, it’s essential to tackle the underlying problem as well: inflammation.

Thankfully, garlic can pack a powerful punch against inflammation in the body. According to recent research, garlic could be used to fight arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory superpowers[9].

While diet still plays a huge role in reducing inflammation, garlic could also be an incredible addition to jump-start your healthy lifestyle.

10. Decreases Heavy Metals

As mentioned before, garlic is powerful in reducing toxins in the body. Reducing heavy metals is another benefit of this and, perhaps, one of the most surprising health benefits of garlic.

Studies with garlic were used on patients with lead poisoning. The results were rather shocking!

Previously, it was scientifically proven that garlic used on animals could reduce heavy metal toxicity. Later, the effects were proven in humans tested with lead poisoning.

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117 factory workers were tested for high lead concentrations in their blood. These workers were divided into two groups: one for garlic and one for d-penicillamine for 4 weeks. The results for garlic were impressive! It reduced irritability and headaches and decreased deep tendon reflex and systolic blood pressure, while the d-penicillamine didn’t see any results. The group who took garlic also tested for lower concentrations of lead[10].

While heavy metal toxicity is rare, it can also be an underlying cause for some chronic health concerns. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to stay on top of it and ensure your body is properly ridding itself of metal toxicity through garlic.

11. Aids Weight Loss

With all of it’s powerful components, it should not be a surprise that garlic can help overall weight loss efforts. Garlic’s combined efforts in reducing fungus and microbes, balancing blood sugar, and increasing workout performance can lead to overall weight loss.

This is a huge green light for many people hoping to find an extra way to boost their efforts.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, if we take care of our bodies, our bodies will take care of us. For many of us, the key isn’t about figuring out the best fat-burner or anti-inflammatory pill on the market. It’s about learning to nurture our bodies so that it will work properly for us in return.

Since garlic can help achieve overall balance in our bodies, we can rest assured that it will help us reach our fitness and health goals as well. Next time you’re making lunch, chop up a bit of garlic and throw it in. Your body will thank you!

More Nutritional Foods

Featured photo credit: Yogesh Pedamkar via photopin.comhttps

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Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

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Published on August 24, 2021

What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts
  • Water

This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

What Is a Whole Food Diet?

By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

  • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
  • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Berries five times a week
  • Five or more servings of nuts a week
  • Olive oil five times a week
  • Whole grains five times a week
  • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
  • Legumes and pulses five times a week
  • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Minimally processed foods
  • No more than one glass of wine a day
  • One or two coffee or tea a day max
  • Two liters of water a day

That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

Whole Foods and the Gut

Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

Whole Foods and the Brain

The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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1. Practice Batch Cooking

Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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Reference

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