Cold and flu season is here, and you’ve probably already spent a few days in bed, surrounded by tissues and cough syrup.
But now, social media users are praising an at-home remedy that promises to help combat sniffles, sore throats and more.
It’s the work of scientist Tim Spector, who took to his Instagram page to share his concoction with others – but be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted.
‘Here’s how to make the simplest fermented food and a fantastic remedy to have on hand for cold and flu season,’ he explained in the clip.
It’s easy to make: the only ingredients you need are cloves of garlic and a jar of honey.
‘All you do is add peeled garlic cloves to raw honey and shake,’ Tim wrote. ‘Leave the mixture in a dark place to ferment, flipping the jar every day to ensure the garlic cloves remain submerged. You also want to open the jar to ‘burp’ it every couple of days.’ Lovely.
Tim noted that the video was filmed during the summer in Spain when it was much warmer. In the colder months, the mixture will need longer to fully ferment.
‘It will continue to ferment more the longer you leave it and should last for a year or more outside of the fridge,’ he added. ‘The great thing is that taking some to taste during the fermentation process won’t disturb it too much if you’re impatient.’
The scientist went on to explain the health benefits of garlic and how it can help our health in the winter months.
‘Garlic is packed with prebiotic inulin fibre to support your gut health and is thought to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties that can help fight cold and flu,’ he explained. ‘In fact, one RCT found that taking garlic extract lead to 3 times less colds over a period of 3 months than taking a placebo.
‘Similarly, honey has been shown to improve cough frequency and severity in human trials.
‘For combatting sore throats and sniffles, you can eat the fermented garlic honey as is but it’s also a delicious ingredients to add into salad dressings, drizzle over roasted vegetables and so much more.’
The mixture sounds like a lifesaver, but what do experts think of the garlic and honey brew?
Abbas Kanani, Superintendent Pharmacist at Chemist Click, tells Metro.co.uk that Tim is correct – honey and garlic are great for our immune systems.
‘Both garlic and honey have proven health benefits all year round and within the cold and flu season,’ Abbas says. ‘The main health ingredient in garlic is allicin and it contains oxygen, sulfur, and other chemicals that give garlic antibacterial and disease-fighting properties. Honey is naturally high in antioxidants called flavonoids and polyphenols.
‘These chemicals help to fight inflammation (redness and swelling) in the body. This can help balance the immune system and prevent certain illnesses. Honey also has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties.’
However, Abbas does warn us to exercise caution when it comes to fermenting.
‘Fermented foods are gaining global interest as healthy foods due to their health-promoting potentials, such as anti-inflammation, antioxidation, antiallergic, antidiabetic and anticarcinogenic properties,’ Abbas notes. ‘Many fermented foods are a rich source of nutrients, phytochemicals, bioactive compounds, and probiotic microbes.
‘Some research has shown that antioxidants such as polyphenol and flavonoids increase during the aging process of garlic and antioxidants can help to prevent damage to cells that can cause diseases. A potential risk to health may come from the process and lack of regulation.
‘Fermented garlic will have a higher sodium content than regular raw garlic if you make it at home, therefore people may be at risk of consuming high amounts of salt. Another risk with homemade fermented foods is although rare, some people can have adverse reactions to fermented garlic and it can also react negatively with certain medications.
‘Existing evidence around the benefits of fermented foods has been mainly generated from in vitro and animal studies therefore the potential role of fermented products in human health remains to be determined by randomised, controlled clinical trials.’
Finally, Abbas says that the best way to protect ourselves during the cold and flu season is to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
‘When it comes to prevention of colds and flu, the most important thing is to eat and healthy balanced diet,’ he explains. ‘Ensure you’re eating foods that offer an excellent source of omega-3, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, stay hydrated with plenty of water and adding fresh ginger, lemon and honey.
‘Fruits and vegetables also contain water and can help prevent dehydration, as well as essential vitamins and minerals. It’s also important to rest so your body can fight off infection and recover.’
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