I remember as a child if I ever got hurt, the first aid my mother ran to was her kitchen masala box! I was made to gulp down a spoonful of haldi powder (turmeric) with a cup of milk or water. Turmeric paste was even applied to wounds to keep bacteria away. And it worked!
Perhaps because we carry the heritage of the ancient science of ayurveda, most Indians are already aware of the most potent antibacterial given to us by nature. These are our every day foods like – Onion, garlic, turmeric and ginger.
They are all found under the ground, and survive well there amidst millions of microbes and bacteria in the soil, simply because the bacteria are repulsed by them and want to save their life, so they keep away. They have a strong distinct smell and pungent flavor which one cannot take too much of. I don’t know of any dish in our cuisine that has more than a dash of ginger, or a dash of garlic, or a pinch of turmeric. If more is added, we just will not be able to relish it anymore.
What we need to understand is that there is a reason why nature has given these properties to these antibacterials. It is because we need them only in measured doses to keep us healthy. A little bit of these peppering our food and system throughout the year is good to keep us going and protected.
Why is too much bad ?
Firstly, humans and bacteria have a love hate relationship. We have millions of friendly bacteria within our body, especially our digestive track in our mouth, in our intestines, that do some great things for us like breaking down our food. The gut micro flora (basically the good bacteria in our intestines) exists in a certain number, which a healthy body maintains.
A measured dose of antibacterial kills the bad bacteria within, however an overdose could destroy even the good bacteria. This we don’t want right ?
So the best way to maintain the balance is to include all of these in small amounts all through the year.
The only exception to this rule is when we are severely ill. At this time the number of bad bacteria in our body have gone up, and we can bring them down by having concentrated doses. Juice of onion works wonderfully in bringing viral fevers down. Juice of ginger works wonderfully to soothe inflammation and reduce pain.
Of course after we recover we should work on building the good bacteria colonies by taking probiotics (contained in fermented foods, kimchi, kombucha, coconut kefir etc. – but more on these later).
Nature always gives us what we need and in the form that is best for us. We can never really run out of these super antibacterials because they all have a long shelf life. Onions and garlic can stay for months. Ginger and turmeric dries up instead of rotting, and can still be used whenever required. Of course we may not realize this in this age of abundance when everything is anyway made available to us off the shelf, but even if it were not, it is almost like nature has endowed these foods with the perfect qualities just in order to insure us 🙂