Amazing Foods with Antimicrobial Properties

foods with antimicrobial properties
Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

We have all benefited at some point in our lives from the power of antimicrobial medicines to treat an infection—whether bacterial, fungal, or viral in origin. These organisms make up the most frequent reason for visiting the doctor’s office, whether for an upper respiratory infection, urinary tract infection, cold sores, skin infection, or athlete’s foot.

Have you ever wondered if any of the foods you eat could help fight an infection? They can! Check out these foods with antimicrobial properties for yourself.

Not only has honey been shown to help with a cough but it also has antibacterial properties. A 2011 Canadian study showed honey to not only be able to suppress bacterial growth but also able to kill bacteria outright. In another study, honey showed promise in being able to treat certain bacteria known to cause skin infections.

A 2014 study showed promising effects of apple cider vinegar in treating candida infections of the mouth in elderly. Though research is limited, there is anecdotal evidence that apple cider vinegar can treat other fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and jock itch, when used in a topical fashion.

What a food! Anti-inflammatory, cholesterol lowering, mildly blood thinning, garlic is a powerhouse of health benefits.  Garlic, and especially its potent component allicin, has shown antiviral and antibacterial qualities in several studies. It seems that garlic’s ability to act as an antimicrobial is enhanced when it’s raw.

Cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and pepper have long been enjoyed in the cuisine of many cultures. These spices boast an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as being chock-full of antioxidants. These spices may indeed have antibacterial and antiviral properties.

The next time you’re feeling under the weather, remember these foods. Though they are not a substitute for good medical care, they may offer some natural benefits: food as medicine.

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