Nearly any global dish could be improved by adding garlic. Now, according to researchers, the same might be true of your brain.

By Dan Nosowitz
May 21, 2019

As we get older, it's easy to just accept that our memory declines. But a new study from researchers at the University of Louisville posits that garlic, a ubiquitous ingredient found in nearly every global cuisine (and perhaps even in your backyard garden) could affect the cognition—specifically the memory—of elderly mice. The researchers gave these 24-month-old mice (which is elder in mouse years, who live two to three years) a supplement derived from garlic. They found that the supplement helped fix a particular reaction in the brain that’s responsible for cognitive decline. Let's break this down.

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The Gut-Brain Connection

There’s a curious relationship between the health of the gut microbiome—all the living bacteria in your digestive tract—and how the brain functions. It’s still in the relatively early stages of research, but previous work has found that there is definitely a relationship between the two, even to the point of recommending probiotics not just for a healthier gut, but for healthier brains.

Related: Keep Your Brain Healthy

This study was an attempt to learn more about that relationship. A compound in garlic called allyl sulfide has been linked to healthier gut bacteria in the past, and it’s a fairly common dietary supplement. The mice were given that supplement, and their gut bacteria was found to improve in certain ways: less inflammation, for example. But the mice given that supplement also showed improvement in cognitive tests, for short- and long-term memory. They don't know exactly what the correlation is between these two things, but researchers are optimistic. If garlic can be good for both cognition and gut bacteria, there seems to be a relationship.

Garlic Is Good for Your Heart, Too

Garlic has been linked to all kinds of health benefits in the past. According to Consumer Reports, garlic has been shown to improve blood pressure and cholesterol, and its benefits for the heart could extend to helping to treat all kinds of cardiovascular disease. That’s not to say that garlic is a cure for heart disease; the research is small and limited, but it is promising. It’s possible, say the researchers, that garlic has promise as an anti-aging treatment for the elderly.

With all this possible benefit, plus it's enjoyable flavor, eating more garlic sounds like a diet change we could easily put into practice.

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