First that nasty cold knocked out the IT department, then your desk-mate started sniffling. At this time of year, there seems to be a perpetual virus going around the office. One way to help? Load up on superfoods that give your immune system a fighting chance, but don't wait until you're already feeling under the weather. Studies show that infection-fighting nutrients like zinc, selenium and beta-glucans work better before symptoms start, so load up on healthful foods now to keep your body's defense system strong throughout the season.
Garlic's history as an infection fighter runs long (it was used as an antibiotic during both World Wars) thanks to the sulfur-containing compounds in each clove, including powerful allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinates
. The anitmicrobial effects of the garlic compound allicin are well-documented, including in a 2004 study
in the British Journal of Biomedical Science
, where researchers found the sulfinate effective against powerful, antibiotic resistant bacterial infections from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
The medical literature consistently shows that allicin is also active
against drug-resistant E.coli infections, fungal infections (particularly oral and vaginal yeast infections), and parasites, including Giardia -- a common cause of traveler's diarrhea. Allicin also has antiviral properties.
It's important to note that these findings have been on the cellular level in a lab setting, rather than observed from human diets. But at least one clinical trial found that dietary garlic was useful in preventing colds
Allicin is only released when garlic cells are damaged (cutting, crushing, chewing) and is heat sensitive. Try adding some minced, raw garlic to a salad dressing.