garlic,health benefits of garlic


Garlic Health Benefits

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Whole books have been written about garlic, an herb affectionately called "the stinking rose" in light of its numerous therapeutic benefits. A member of the lily or Allium family, which also includes onions and leeks, garlic is rich in a variety of powerful sulfur-containing compounds including thiosulfinates (of which the best known compound is allicin), sulfoxides (among which the best known compound is alliin), and dithiins (in which the most researched compound is ajoene). While these compounds are responsible for garlic's characteristically pungent odor, they are also the source of many of its health-promoting effects. 

More recent research has identified additional sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for garlic's star status as a health-supporting food. These sulfur compounds include 1,2-vinyldithiin (1,2-DT), and thiacremonone. The hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) that can be made from garlic's sulfides has also been the subject of great research interest. When produced and released from our red blood cells, this H2S gas can help dilate our blood vessels and help keep our blood pressure under control. 

Finally, when thinking about the sulfur compounds in garlic, it is important to remember that sulfur itself is a key part of our health. Several research studies have noted that the average U.S. diet may be deficient in sulfur, and that foods rich in sulfur may be especially important for our health. In addition to all of the sulfur-related compounds listed above, garlic is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin B6, a very good source of vitamin C, and a good source of selenium.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Most of the research on garlic and our cardiovascular system has been conducted on garlic powder, garlic oil, or aged garlic extracts rather than garlic in food form. But despite this research limitation, food studies on garlic show this allium vegetable to have important cardioprotective properties. Garlic is clearly able to lower our blood triglycerides and total cholesterol, even though this reduction can be moderate (5-15%). 

But cholesterol and triglyceride reduction are by no means garlic's most compelling benefits when it comes to cardioprotection. Those top-level benefits clearly come in the form of blood cell and blood vessel protection from inflammatory and oxidative stress. Damage to blood vessel linings by highly reactive oxygen molecules is a key factor for increasing our risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack and atherosclerosis. Oxidative damage also leads to unwanted inflammation, and it is this combination of unwanted inflammation and oxidative stress that puts our blood vessels at risk of unwanted plaque formation and clogging. Garlic unique set of sulfur-containing compounds helps protect us against both possibilities—oxidative stress and unwanted inflammation.

On the anti-inflammatory side of the equation, garlic's 1,2-vinyldithiin (1,2-DT) and thiacremonone are the compounds that have been of special interest in recent research. Both compounds appear to work by inhibiting the activity of inflammatory messenger molecules. In the case of thiacremonone, it is the inflammatory transcription factor called NFkappaB that gets inhibited. In the case of 1,2-DT, the exact anti-inflammatory mechanisms are not yet clear, even though the release of inflammatory messaging molecules like interleukin 6 (IL-6) and interleukin 8 (IL-8) by macrophage cells has been shown to be reduced in white adipose tissue by 1,2-DT. The combination of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress compounds in garlic makes it a unique food for cardiovascular support, especially in terms of chronic degenerative cardiovascular conditions like atherosclerosis.
In addition to the ability of garlic to help prevent our blood vessels from becoming blocked, this allium vegetable may also be able to help prevent clots from forming inside of our blood vessels. This cardiovascular protection has been linked to one particular disulfide in garlic called ajoene. Ajoene has repeatedly been shown to have anti-clotting properties. It can help prevent certain cells in our blood (called platelets) from becoming too sticky, and by keeping this stickiness in check, it lowers the risk of our platelets clumping together and forming a clot.
Equally impressive about garlic is its ability to lower blood pressure. Researchers have known for about 10 years that the allicin made from alliin in garlic blocks the activity of angiotensin II. A small piece of protein (peptide), angiotensin II helps our blood vessels contract. (When they contract, our blood is forced to pass through a smaller space, and the pressure is increased.) By blocking the activity of angiotensin II, allicin form garlic is able to help prevent unwanted contraction of our blood vessels and unwanted increases in blood pressure. 

More recently, however, researchers have found that garlic supports our blood pressure in a second and totally different way. Garlic is rich in sulfur-containing molecules called polysulfides. It turns out that these polysulfides, once inside our red blood cells (RBCs), can be further converted by our RBCs into a gas called hydrogen sulfide (H2S). H2S helps control our blood pressure by triggering dilation of our blood vessels. When the space inside our blood vessels expands, our blood pressure gets reduced. (H2S is described as a "gasotransmitter" and placed in the same category as nitric oxide (NO) as a messaging molecule that can help expand and relax our blood vessel walls.) Interestingly, our RBCs do not appear to use processed garlic extracts in the same way that they use polysulfides in food-form garlic.
Garlic's numerous beneficial cardiovascular effects are due to not only its sulfur compounds, but also to its vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium and manganese. Garlic is a very good source of vitamin C, the body's primary antioxidant defender in all aqueous (water-soluble) areas, such as the bloodstream, where it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation. Since it is the oxidized form of LDL cholesterol that initiates damage to blood vessel walls, reducing levels of oxidizing free radicals in the bloodstream can have a profound effect on preventing cardiovascular disease.
Garlic's vitamin B6 helps prevent heart disease via another mechanism: lowering levels of homocysteine. An intermediate product of an important cellular biochemical process called the methylation cycle, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls.
The selenium in garlic can become an important part of our body's antioxidant system. A cofactor of glutathione peroxidase (one of the body's most important internally produced antioxidant enzymes), selenium also works with vitamin E in a number of vital antioxidant systems.
Garlic is rich not only in selenium, but also in another trace mineral, manganese, which also functions as a cofactor in a number of other important antioxidant defense enzymes, for example, superoxide dismutase. Studies have found that in adults deficient in manganese, the level of HDL (the "good form" of cholesterol) is decreased.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits Across Body Systems

Our cardiovascular system is not the only body system that may be able to benefit from garlic's anti-inflammatory properties. There's preliminary evidence (mostly from animal studies, and mostly based on garlic extracts rather than whole food garlic) that our our musculoskeletal system and respiratory system can also benefit from anti-inflammatory compounds in garlic. Both the diallyl sulfide (DAS) and thiacremonone in garlic have been shown to have anti-arthritic properties. And in the case of allergic airway inflammation, aged garlic extract has been show to improve inflammatory conditions (once again in animal studies). 

Even more preliminary is research evidence showing that some inflammatory aspects of obesity may be altered by sulfur-containing compounds in garlic. Specifically, there is one stage in development of the body's fat cells (adipocytes) that appears to be closely related to status of our inflammatory system. Fat cells cannot become fully themselves unless they are able to progress from a preliminary stage called "preadipocytes" to a final stage called "adipocytes." One of the sulfur compounds in garlic (1,2,-vinyldithiin, or 1,2-DT) appears able to lessen this conversion of preadipocytes into adipocytes, and the impact of 1,2-DT appears to be inflammation-related. Even though very preliminary, this research on 1,2-DT is exciting because obesity is increasingly being understood as a disease characterized by chronic, low level inflammation and our inflammatory status is precisely where garlic's 1,2-DT has its apparent impact.

Antibacterial and Antiviral Benefits

From a medical history standpoint, the antibacterial and antiviral properties of garlic are perhaps its most legendary feature. This allium vegetable and its constituents have been studied not only for their benefits in controlling infection by bacteria and viruses, but also infection from other microbes including yeasts/fungi and worms. (One particular disulfide in garlic, called ajoene, has been successfully used to help prevent infections with the yeast Candida albicans.) Very recent research has shown the ability of crushed fresh garlic to help prevent infection by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in burn patients. Also of special interest has been the ability of garlic to help in the treatment of bacterial infections that are difficult to treat due to the presence of bacteria that have become resistant to prescription antibiotics. However, most of the research on garlic as an antibiotic has involved fresh garlic extracts or powdered garlic products rather than fresh garlic in whole food form. 

Overgrowth of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori in the stomach—a key risk factor for stomach ulcer—has been another key area of interest for researchers wanting to explore garlic's antibacterial benefits. Results in this area, however, have been mixed and inconclusive. While garlic may not be able to alter the course of infection itself, there may still be health benefits from garlic in helping to regulate the body's response to that infection. 

Garlic and Iron Metabolism

Recent research has shown that garlic may be able to improve our metabolism of iron. When iron is stored up in our cells, one of the key passageways for it to be moved out of the cell and returned into circulation involves a protein called ferroportin. Ferroportin is protein that runs across the cell membrane, and it provides a bridge for iron to cross over and leave the cell. Garlic may be able to increase our body's production of ferroportin, and in this way, help keep iron in circulation as it is needed.



How to Prevent Heart disease, heart attack, stroke in your 20s


What You Can Do to Prevent Heart Disease

Getting smart about your heart early on puts you far ahead of the curve. The things you do — and don’t — are a tell-tale sign of how long and how well you’re going to live, said Richard Stein, M.D. “There’s no one I know who said: ‘I felt better being sedentary. I felt better eating a terrible diet,’” said Stein, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine. “All these things actually make you feel better while they help you.”
  • Find a doctor and have regular wellness exams. Healthy people need doctors, too. Establishing a relationship with a physician means you can start heart-health screenings now. Talk to your doctor about your diet, lifestyle and checking your blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, blood sugar and body mass index. You may also need your blood sugar checked if you are pregnant, overweight or have diabetes. Knowing where your numbers stand early makes it easier to spot a possible change in the future.
     
  • Be physically active. It’s a lot easier to be active and stay active if you start at a young age. “If you’re accustomed to physical activity, you’ll sustain it,” Dr. Stein said. Keep your workout routine interesting by mixing it up and finding new motivators.
     
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. If you picked up smoking as a teen, it’s time to quit smoking. Even exposure to secondhand smoke poses a serious health hazard. Nonsmokers are up to 30 percent more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer from secondhand smoke exposure at home or work, according to a U.S. Surgeon General report.

how to prevent cancer with garlic


Cancer Prevention with garlic

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While not as strong as the research evidence for cruciferous vegetables, research on the allium vegetables—including garlic—shows that these vegetables have important anti-cancer properties. Interestingly, high intake of garlic (roughly translated as daily intake of this food) has been found to lower risk of virtually all cancer types except cancer of the prostate and breast cancer. However, moderate intake of garlic (roughly translated as several times per week) has been repeatedly found to lower risk of only two cancer types—colorectal and renal cancer. This difference between "high" versus "moderate" garlic intake may be a real difference that suggests we all need to eat more garlic if we want to maximize its cancer-related benefits. Or it may be a difference that is more related to research complications involving the options given to research participants when reporting their food intake. Still, garlic has a consistent track record with respect to general anti-cancer benefits, and there are good research reasons for classifying garlic as an "anti-cancer" food. 

The allyl sulfides found in garlic may play a key role in its cancer-prevention benefits. These garlic compounds are able to activate a molecule called nuclear erythroid factor (Nrf2) in the main compartment of cells. The Nrf2 molecule then moves from the main compartment of the cell into the cell nucleus, where it triggers a wide variety of metabolic activities. Under some circumstances, this set of events can prepare a cell for engagement in a strong survival response, and in particular, the kind of response that is needed under conditions of oxidative stress. Under other circumstances, this same set of events can prepare the cell to engage in programmed cell death (apoptosis). When a cell recognizes that it has become too compromised to continue functioning in a healthy manner with other cells, it stops proceeding through its own life cycle and essentially starts to dismantle itself and recycle its parts. It's critical for a cell to determine whether it should continue on or shut itself down, because cells that continue on without the ability to properly function or communicate effectively with other cells are at risk of becoming cancerous. The ability of garlic's allyl sulfides to activate Nrf2 suggests that garlic may be able to help modify these all-critical cell responses and prevent potentially cancerous cells from forming. 

One especially interesting area of research on garlic and cancer prevention involves meat cooked at high temperatures. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are cancer-related substances that can form when meat comes into contact with a high-temperature cooking surface (400°F/204°C or higher). One such HCA is called PhIP (which stands for 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazopyridine). PhIP is thought to be one reason for the increased incidence of breast cancer among women who eat large quantities of meat because it is rapidly transformed into DNA-damaging compounds. 

Diallyl sulfide (DAS), one of the many sulfur-containing compounds in garlic, has been shown to inhibit the transformation of PhIP into carcinogens. DAS blocks this transformation by decreasing the production of the liver enzymes (the Phase I enzymes CYP1A1, CYP1A2 and CYP1B1) that transform PhIP into activated DNA-damaging compounds. Of course, your best way to prevent formation of PhIP is not to bring your meat into contact with a 400°F/204°C cooking surface in the first place. But this area of research still bolsters our view of garlic as an allium vegetable with important cancer-preventive properties.

How to Prevent Heart disease, heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke at Age 40, 50, 60 plus


Unlike the emergence of wrinkles and gray hair, what you can’t see as you get older is the impact aging has on your heart. So starting in the 50s, you need to take extra steps.
 

With age comes an increased risk for heart disease. Your blood pressure, cholesterol and other heart-related numbers tend to rise. Watching your numbers closely and managing any health problems that arise — along with the requisite healthy eating and exercise — can help you live longer and better.
 
  • Have an ankle-brachial index test. Starting in your 60s, it's a good idea to get an ankle-brachial index test as part of a physical exam.

    The test assesses the pulses in the feet to help diagnose peripheral artery disease (PAD), a lesser-known cardiovascular disease in which plaque builds up in the leg arteries.
     
  • Watch your weight. Your body needs fewer calories as you get older. Excess weight causes your heart to work harder and increases the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Exercising regularly and eating smaller portions of nutrient-rich foods may help you maintain a healthy weight.
     
  • Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men. Knowing when you’re having a heart attack or stroke means you’re more likely to get immediate help. Quick treatment can save your life and prevent serious disability.
     

How to Prevent Heart disease, heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke at Age 40


If heart health hasn’t been a priority, don’t worry. Healthy choices you make now can strengthen your heart for the long haul. Understand why you need to make a lifestyle change and have the confidence to make it. Then, tackle them one at a time. “Each success makes you more confident to take on the next one,” said Stein, an American Heart Association volunteer.
 
  • Watch your weight. You may notice your metabolism slowing down in your 40s. But you can avoid weight gain by following a heart-healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. The trick is to find a workout routine you enjoy.

    If you need motivation to get moving, find a workout buddy.
     
  • Have your blood sugar level checked. In addition to blood pressure checks and other heart-health screenings, you should have a fasting blood glucose test by the time you’re 45.

    This first test serves as a baseline for future tests, which you should have every three years. Testing may be done earlier or more often if you are overweight, diabetic or at risk for becoming diabetic.
     
  • Don’t brush off snoring. Listen to your sleeping partner’s complaints about your snoring.

    One in five adults has at least mild sleep apnea, a condition that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. If not properly treated, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

How to Prevent Heart disease, heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke in age 30s


Juggling family and career leaves many adults with little time to worry about their hearts. Here are some ways to balance all three.
 
  • Make heart-healthy living a family affair. Create and sustain heart-healthy habits in your kids and you’ll reap the benefits, too. Spend less time on the couch and more time on the move. Explore a nearby park on foot or bike. Shoot some hoops or walk the dog.

    Plant a vegetable and fruit garden together in the yard, and invite your kids into the kitchen to help cook.
     
  • Know your family history. Shake down your family tree to learn about heart health. Having a relative with heart disease increases your risk, and more so if the relative is a parent or sibling.

    That means you need to focus on risk factors you can control by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking and eating right.

    Also, keep your doctor informed about any heart problems you learn about in your family.
     
  • Tame your stress. Long-term stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage the artery walls.

    Learning stress management techniques not only benefits your body, but also your quality of life. Try deep breathing exercises and find time each day to do something you enjoy.

    Giving back through volunteering also does wonders for knocking out stress.

How to Prevent Heart disease, heart attack, stroke at Any Age


You’re never too young— or too old — to take care of your heart.

Preventing heart disease (and all cardiovascular diseases) means making smart choices now that will pay off the rest of your life.

Lack of exercise, a poor diet and other unhealthy habits can take their toll over the years. Anyone at any age can benefit from simple steps to keep their heart healthy during each decade of life. Here’s how:

What You Can Do to Prevent Heart Disease

No matter what your age, everyone can benefit from a healthy diet and adequate physical activity.
 
  • Choose a healthy eating plan.  The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.

    Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.  As part of a healthy diet, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish-at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds and try eating some meals without meat.  Select lower fat dairy products and poultry (skinless).  Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and red meat. If you choose to eat meat, select the leanest cuts available.
     
  • Be physically active.  You can slowly work up to at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) every week or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity (e.g., jogging, running) or a combination of both every week.

    Additionally, on 2 or more days a week you need muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest shoulders, and arms). Children should get at least 60 minutes of activity every day.
     
  • It's never too earl or too later to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Not everyone experiences sudden numbness with a stroke or severe chest pain with a heart attack. And heart attack symptoms in women can be different than men.

How to Prevent Type 2 diabetes better than managing diabetes


You can help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by understanding your risk and making changes to your lifestyle. Common risk factors include increased weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels. Changing the habits of a lifetime isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.

Here are some tips to help you reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

  1. Check your risk of diabetes. Take the Life! risk assessment test and learn more about your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A 12+ score indicates that you are at high risk and may be eligible for the Life! program - a free Victorian lifestyle modification program that helps you reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, or call 13 RISK (13 7475).

  2. Manage your weight. Excess body fat, particularly if stored around the abdomen, can increase the body’s resistance to the hormone insulin. This can lead to type 2 diabetes.

  3. Exercise regularly. Moderate physical activity on most days of the week helps manage weight, reduce blood glucose levels and may also improve blood pressure and cholesterol.

  4. Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Reduce the amount of fat in your diet, especially saturated and trans fats. Eat more fruit, vegetables and high-fibre foods. Cut back on salt.

  5. Limit takeaway and processed foods. ‘Convenience meals’ are usually high in salt, fat and kilojoules. It’s best to cook for yourself using fresh ingredients whenever possible.

  6. Limit your alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can lead to weight gain and may increase your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Men should have no more than two standard drinks a day and women should have no more than one.

  7. Quit smoking. Smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes as non-smokers.

  8. Control your blood pressure. Most people can do this with regular exercise, a balanced diet and by keeping a healthy weight. In some cases, you might need medication prescribed by your doctor.

  9. Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease have many risk factors in common, including obesity and physical inactivity.

  10. See your doctor for regular check-ups. As you get older, it’s a good idea to regularly check your blood glucose, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. 
10 tips to help prevent type 2 diabetes - Better Health Channel
10 tips to help prevent type 2 diabetes

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