Garlic protects the brain against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, thanks to its beneficial action on the gut microbiota. This is the main conclusion of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville (United States).
The study that came out of the annual meeting of the Medical Society of the United States in 2019, gives us more arguments to the benefits of garlic as a superfood and highlights its medicinal properties.
How the diversity of intestinal bacteria increases.
Having a high diversity of intestinal bacteria species is associated with good general health. As we age, this diversity tends to decrease, while the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s increases.
For these and other reasons, the researchers agreed to test the effect of garlic on the microbiota and on the cognitive faculties. The study included mice of 24 months of age, which is equivalent to between 56 and 69 years in humans. Some of the mice received allyl sulfide, a compound in garlic, which made them improve their short and long-term memory.
A healthy microbiota is beneficial for the brain.
In addition, the variety of digestive bacteria was increased, which, according to the researchers, may be the cause of the effect on the brain. And the production of the “neurotrophic factor derived from the brain” was also increased by enhancing the expression of the NDNF gene, which is required for the consolidation of memory and the preservation of the intellectual faculties.
According to recent research, an altered microbiota is associated with low-grade inflammation and metabolic disorders that are at the origin of dementias.
Sulfur compounds and inulin “Our findings suggest that the dietary administration of garlic, by its content of allyl sulfide, could help maintain healthy populations of intestinal microorganisms and thereby improve cognitive health in the elderly,” says the study’s author, Jyotirmaya Behera, in a press release.
Another beneficial component of garlic is inulin, a type of water soluble fiber that serves as food for intestinal microorganisms. Inulin is a fructan that when metabolized by bacteria is transformed into short chain fatty acids (SCFA), precursors of ketones that nourish the cells.
Therefore, the researchers propose that the treatment of these disorders include probiotics and a dietary strategy to improve the state of the microbiota.
Previous research has also highlighted the benefits of a specific type of garlic (aged garlic extract) for brain health. Known for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, this type of garlic, which is rich in sulfur compounds, improved short-term recognition memory and reduced neuroinflammation in rats with Alzheimer-like disease. Garlic is one of the oldest medicines of mankind.
There are references to garlic in Sumerian clay tablets that date back to 2,600 BC. In ancient Egypt, garlic was given to workers so that they could withstand heavy work. And in the Olympic Games of ancient Greece, athletes ate garlic to increase their endurance