“It is said that during World War II, garlic was used to address the wounds of soldiers due to its antimicrobial impacts”.
Garlic is a famous functional food innately from central Asia and nowadays cultivated across the world. The history of garlic is very interesting. This food has been known for its medical potency since 5000 years. It is well renowned as a therapeutic and prophylactic agent and to cure problems like diarrhoea, asthma, fever, constipation, leprosy, and other infections. Out of numerous health gains of garlic, the anticancer impact is perhaps the most recognizable.
It is also evident from the outcomes of recently done collective epidemiological studies that garlic consumption is strongly related to reduced cancer risk, especially the intestinal and gastric.
It is not untrue to say that along with the striking combination of chemotherapies and other cancer treatments, intake of such anti-cancer foods make a great difference in the treatment efficacy and recovery speed of cancer.
- What is garlic?
- Bioactive constituents of garlic
- Chemopreventive effects of garlic
- Therapeutic potential of garlic
- Different ways to consume garlic
1. What is garlic?
Garlic is a type of bulbous perennial plant with a characteristic pungent taste and peculiar aroma. After the onion, garlic is the second most widely used bulb. Worldwide, it is known with different names, viz. rustic treacle, allium, clove garlic, camphor of the poor, the nectar of the gods, and poor man’s treacle.
2. Bioactive constituents of garlic
A raw fresh garlic bulb consists of water, protein, carbohydrates, amino acids, fatty acids, fibre, vitamin C, vitamin A, phenols, minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium) and organosulfur compounds (OSCs).
The major sulfur component found in garlic is alliin. Generally, garlic cloves contain approximately 8g/kg alliin, which upon chopping or crushing, converted into allicin (the bio-active). This component is unstable, thereby readily decomposes into allyl methyl trisulfide, diallyl sulfide (DAS), diallyl disulfide (DADS), diallyltrisulfide (DATS), and ajoene.
The OSCs mainly categorized into two types: water-soluble and oil soluble. Water-soluble OSCs present in small quantities in garlic but considered as the major bioactive ingredients for cancer prevention.
3. Chemopreventive effects of garlic
Garlic acts as a chemoprotective agent by acting at three stages of cancer: initiation, promotion, and progression using different mechanisms and actions.
These anti-carcinogenic actions are:
Scavenging free radicals, suppressing mutagenesis, inhibiting protein folding’s, regulating enzyme activities, evasion ofimmunosurveillance, and impeding cancer cellular behaviours. Let’s explore these in little deep:
#Garlic significantly impedes chemically induced mutagenesis and obstruct the extracellular mutagen effects.
#Garlic is a potent antioxidant. The OSCs like Allylcysteine (SAC) and S-allyl-mercaptocysteine (SAMC) present considerable free radical scavenging properties, reduces lipid peroxidation, improves circulatory antioxidants, and raise radical-scavenging enzymes activities.
#Being enriched with ajoene, garlic leads to misfolded protein accumulation, which otherwise aggregates in cancer cells and stimulates unfolded protein response.
#The phytochemicals present in garlic help to prevent the transportation of carcinogens to tissues and organs by lowering the active toxins or via impeding interaction with cellular macromolecules.
#Garlic hinders the progression of carcinogenesis by exhibiting anti-invasive and anti-metastatic properties.
#Exhibits potent anti-proliferative activities and leads to apoptosis of cancer cells by stimulating DNA fragmentation, enhanced intracellular free calcium, downregulation of bcl-2, and up-regulation of Bax and p53.
#Other than above-mentioned properties, garlic also exhibits potent immunomodulatory properties.
In these ways, the garlic shows its chemoprotective properties and exerts a significant place in anti-cancer foods.
“Along with garlic, also include cancer-preventive species in the food for cancer patients”. Altogether, these foods exerta significant impact on recovery from cancer.
4. Therapeutic potential of garlic
It is very difficult to treat cancer, once it spread throughout the body. Components of garlic can also help to block various signalling pathways that play an essential role in cell migration and differentiation.
The therapeutic use of garlic as tablets and injections exert significant efficacy in improving the condition of a patient. Therefore, it can be said that garlic is not only contains chemoprotective properties but also shows significant potency for cancer therapy.
5. Different ways to consume garlic
“The intake of 1∼2 cloves of intact garlic every day is advantageous to human health”
But, the question is how we can consume garlic?
Basically, in the market you can find garlic in four preparations:
1) fresh garlic
2) Garlic oil
3) Garlic powder
4) AGE (aged garlic extract)
In Indian cuisines, we use garlic as part of vegetable curries, masala, or as toppings. The best way through which we can grab the whole nutritional value of garlic is AGE.
What is AGE?
It is known as aged garlic extract, prepared using ethanol. In this process, garlic is aged for many years and during this time the harsh, odorous, and irritating components of garlic turned into safe and stable sulfur compounds. The bioavailability of AGE is the highest than the other forms of garlic.
Garlic is a boon for cancer patients and must be included in the diet for cancer patients.