I. Love. Garlic. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t use it in some form or fashion. I’ve been a garlic addict for years, which got me thinking about whether there might be a correlation to the fact that my family and I seem to skate through cold and flu season every year unscathed. I honestly can’t think of the last time I had a cold and I’m pretty sure I’ve never had the flu. I’m also happy to say my 6-year-old hasn’t either. If a cold creeps in, it’s usually a result of a change in diet or routine while visiting her doting grandparents. Even then, she’s usually not down for more than a day or two before bouncing back. Flu shot? Not a chance. (I have my theory about flu shots, which I’ll save for another post.) I attribute our good fortune to the immune-boosting power of garlic.
Garlic is a natural anti-biotic. It’s anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties make it an ideal weapon of choice to defend against winter bugs.
The best way to enjoy garlic’s health benefits is to eat it raw or close to raw. I’ve been juicing it (see recipe below) or you can use fresh minced garlic in a home-made salad dressing. Wait at least 5 minutes before eating or cooking the garlic once you’ve chopped it. Chopping or crushing stimulates the enzymatic process that converts the phytonutrient alliin into allicin, a compound to which many of garlics health benefits are attributed.
If you cook with garlic, it’s best to add it to the very end of the cooking process once the dish has been removed from heat. Heating it to temperatures above 140F destroys the allicin.
If a cold sneaks in, try making this Garlic Lemonade. It’s appropriate for all ages and even during pregnancy and breastfeeding. To prepare: Finely mince 2 cloves of fresh garlic (do not put them in a press) and place them in a 1-quart mason jar. Fill the jar with boiling water and cover for 30 minutes. Strain out the garlic, and to the liquid add the juice of 1 whole lemon. Sweeten to taste with local honey or or add ginger to improve the taste and add to the immune-boosting benefits. Drink warm. Recipe care of Aviva Romm.
Finally, parents, Dr. John Doulliard suggests ear oil as another cold remedy. “[You can] use it preventively, from September to March by dropping warm ear oil in [your] children’s ears while they sleep, twice a month. If they come down with a runny nose or a scratchy throat, use garlic-based ear oil twice a day until they are well, usually a day or two. Ear oil lubricates the Eustachian tubes, which helps support better lymph flow through the cervical lymph, which governs upper respiratory immunity. Your local natural foods store likely carries a variety of ear oil products.”