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Last weekend, I began to feel the dregs of summertime cooking. Tired of fresh, but simply prepared meals, I decided to make a couple of quiches for dinner. My sons requested a quiche with bacon in it, and since I use spelt flour for the pastry (spelt flour makes a flaky, tender crust, by the way) and omit the cream, I acquiesced on the bacon. The other quiche was broccoli with lots of freshly minced garlic.
A few hours later, having eaten both types of quiche, I began to feel the familiar pangs of indigestion. I was taken aback - I had never experienced any type of discomfort with bacon before, and hadn’t consumed any other avoids in my meal. Several digestive enzyme tablets later, I pieced together the puzzle; it wasn’t the bacon after all. No, it was the garlic.
The last several years, I have been noticing in the back of my mind that I am developing an intolerance for garlic, particularly fresh garlic. I say ‘back of my mind’ because I don’t want to admit this is true. I use fresh garlic as a flavoring in many prepared dishes and also medicinally for respiratory infections, among other things. One of my favorite beverages for congestion is what my naturopath calls a “hot toddy” - juice of half a lemon, one clove freshly minced garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper, all in a mug of boiling hot water and sweetened to taste with honey. So warming! So healing! So not to be anymore! I’ve been in denial for quite some time but now I need to come clean: I can no longer eat garlic as freely as I’d like.
So, what is it in garlic that I react to? Now that is a good question. I wish I had an answer for you... and me!
Not one of my herbals, and I have several, mention any type of reaction or toxicity associated with garlic. Not one. Hmmm... They do expound freely on the glories of garlic, however, and all its many healing properties. A search on the web yielded similar results. And yet, in all the websites devoted to indigestion or GERD, garlic was at the top of the list as a causative for indigestion. Am I missing something here?
I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say its the allicin that is “created” in garlic that gives rise to digestive ailments. Garlic contains a sulfur-based compound called allin and an enzyme called allicinase. When a clove of garlic is cut, the allin comes into contact with allicinase and makes allicin, a pungent compound responsible for garlic’s odor and lovely bite. This is why and an uncut bulb or clove has no smell. The interesting part is that the amount of allicin produced is directly dependent on the amount of cutting the clove has received - sliced garlic has the least, minced garlic the most. This also affects the flavor; slicing garlic produces a mild flavor since only a small amount of allicin is produced, mincing provides more allicin and thus, more flavor. Heat breaks down the enzyme allicinase which is why roasted garlic has such a different and mild flavor.
Now you know more about the chemical properties of garlic than I bet you ever dreamed you would! I have noticed that the longer garlic is cooked, the less pain and bloating I experience. This of course translates into less flavor, less medicinal properties, etc.
I have decided long ago that it is always best to listen well to the messages my body sends, and this case is no exception.
And so, Dear Garlic, I bid thee adieu and fare thee well...
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