Garlic, a pungent member of the lily family, and the trace mineral zinc share many therapeutic health benefits. In fact, garlic itself contains high levels of zinc, as well as other trace minerals, such as iron, calcium, manganese and selenium. While you can consume both garlic and zinc in supplement form, adding them to your diet in the form of whole foods may have the most far-reaching health benefits. You can find zinc in a variety of meats, such as beef, lamb, pork, turkey, chicken and salmon, as well as in dairy products, legumes and whole grains. Consult your doctor before adding either garlic or zinc supplements to your regular diet to avoid allergic reactions or other side effects.
Both garlic and zinc may help to strengthen your immune system, protecting you against everything from the cold and flu to bacterial, fungal and yeast infections. Shari Lieberman and Nancy Pauling Bruning, in "The Real Vitamin and Mineral Book: The Definitive Guide to Designing Your Personal Supplement Program," explains that zinc may contribute to the healthy production of antibodies, as well as the healthy functioning of your spleen, thymus, and lymph notes, all of which contribute to protecting your body from disease. Similarly, garlic may help your body resist infection by activating macrophages, which are cells that consume germs in your body. Phyllis A. Balch, in "Prescription for Herbal Healing," says that garlic activates a number of crucial enzymes that contribute to effective antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activity in your body.
Garlic and zinc may protect your body in a number of ways against the effects of environmental toxins. Lieberman and Bruning explain that zinc may be able to protect your liver from chemical poisoning and may contribute to the production of antioxidants, which are used by your body to combat cell-damaging free radicals. Zinc may also help to guard your body against over-exposure to lead and cadmium. In a similar way, garlic may help to protect your body against oxidation and free radicals. Balch explains that “the sulfur and hydrogen compounds of garlic are potent toxic heavy metal chelators, binding and removing metals through excretions.” Garlic also supports the health of your liver liver by destroying environmental carcinogens, such as those found in cigarette smoke, air pollution and molds.
Both garlic and zinc may help to prevent a wide array of chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis, diabetes and cancer. Lieberman and Bruning explain that zinc may help to prevent diabetes by serving a critical role in the production of enzymes necessary for glucose metabolism and may help to improve insulin levels, thereby protecting the body against the development of insulin resistance. Garlic, similarly, may help to protect your body against the development of chronic diseases. Balch explains that garlic may help to lower blood-sugar levels associated with diabetes by stimulating and protecting your body’s secretion of insulin. Garlic may also help to protect against atherosclerosis and high cholesterol by slowing blood coagulation and contributing to lower cholesterol levels. Garlic may even help to guard against breast, colon, stomach and other cancers by hampering tumor formation and proliferation.