Is Garlic a Probiotic or Prebiotic?
Garlic was first documented by the Egyptians & Indians around 5000 years ago and grown by the Chinese around 4000 years. It can be best described as an Allium genus vegetable from the Onion family and is grown fairly easily by planting individual garlic cloves under soil requiring just a little amount of water.
Since probiotic bacteria are not naturally produced by the human digestive system it's important to try to get them naturally from fermented foods or supplements. Prebiotic fiber are also vital for the probiotic bacteria to multiply in your intestine working as an important pair. Probiotics are said to be important for overall immune health with many studies confirming various health benefits from different probiotic bacteria strains.
Is Garlic a Probiotic?
Whilst probiotics are found naturally in the microbiome some people may not have a diverse enough range of probiotic bacteria because of things like antibiotic usage or a modern western diet. When you have an imbalance in gut bacteria this is called dysbiosis and it can lead to various health side effects.
Probiotic bacteria can be found in fermented dairy products like organic yogurt, kefir milk plus other foods like miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut but make sure to avoid foods with vinegar as this can kill probiotic bacteria. Garlic on its own does not contain probiotic bacteria so garlic is NOT a probiotic. You can however make Fermented Garlic with something like honey and the lactic acid fermentation process may produce some Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria.
Does Garlic Kill Probiotics?
Studies like this 2005 one published on Pubmed suggest that fresh garlic extract has antibiotic properties that may be able to kill Candida Albicans and a 2008 study also backed this theory up when it tested Allium Sativum (garlic) on C. Albicans finding it to be effective against the colonization of the fungus.
Other studies also suggest that along with antibiotics it may help to kill certain types of bacteria and has antibacterial activity against bifidobacteria probiotic bacteria in vitro. Most Lactobacillus probiotic strains are sensitive to harsh conditions so it can be assumed that eating raw garlic with probiotic bacteria together will kill most probiotic bacteria.
To be safe, I would suggest leaving a 1 or 2-hour gap between taking probiotics and garlic so that they don't pass through the digestive tract together at the same time. Once the garlic passes your stomach to reach your intestines probiotic bacteria and the prebiotics in garlic may have some interesting benefits.
Is Garlic a Prebiotic?
Thankfully to answer the question of whether garlic is a prebiotic or not we can make use of this excellent study from the Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Animal and Agricultural Sciences, Diponegoro University in Semarang, Indonesia.
In vitro setting, the study tested if garlic extract (Allium Sativum) was able to act as prebiotic fiber food and increase the growth of Lactobacillus Acidophilus bacteria and it was found that it did by a total of 4%. Garlic is a prebiotic.
Other vegetables like asparagus will have higher volumes of prebiotic fiber compared to garlic. Prebiotics work when the fiber in the garlic does not digest and lays in the intestines working as a source of fuel for the probiotic bacteria to eat.
Closing Thoughts: Garlic Has Prebiotic's But No Probiotic's
This blog post has shared studies that proved the following 3 facts:
- Garlic may be able to kill certain types of bacteria or fungus.
- Garlic does not have probiotic bacteria.
- Garlic does contain some prebiotic fiber.
Whilst probiotics along with prebiotic fiber have been well studied more human clinical trials are needed to make clearer more well-defined assumptions on the health benefits of things like garlic along with probiotic bacteria. The studies I shared were all done in vitro and not tested in human microbiomes via stool tests.
If you are experiencing any health issues always contact your doctor. This guide is not medical advice and I am not a doctor. I do however love the smell of fried garlic and cook it with most of the meals after drinking kefir milk in the morning with my probiotic supplement Flow Flora.
Alicia Harper is a NASM-CNC Certified nutritionist and the editor of ProbioticReviewGirl.
After suffering from recurrent gut issues she spent years researching Probiotics and the microbiome.
She has tested 29+ different Probiotics and is a probiotics expert. As a probiotic fanatic, she has valuable knowledge to share with the world.