Health Benefits Of Ginger - An In-depth Guide
Do you want to know why ginger is considered a superfood? In this post, I’m going to discuss the health benefits of ginger and how ginger can improve your health.
Herbs and spices have been used in alternative medicine for years. But few have the same proven medicinal properties as ginger. The therapeutic agents have been analyzed by scientists who managed to verify the effectiveness of using ginger in preventing or treating various diseases and illnesses, including diabetes and cancer.
It’s time to dive in and discover how ginger can improve your health.
What Is Ginger?
Let’s start with the basics. For many of us, ginger is not unfamiliar territory. We use it in our kitchen, especially during Christmas time. But ginger (zingiber officinale,) is more than a seasoning or the key ingredient in gingerbread; it is a plant with impressive medicinal properties that have been used since ancient times for treating various illnesses and diseases. It is also used to maintain health or to prevent specific illnesses, such as influenza during cold and flu season.
Types Of Ginger
Ginger, cardamom, and turmeric belong to the same plant family. And just like the last two, ginger comes in many different forms, including:
- Raw ginger
- Dried ginger root
- Powder ginger – grounded dry ginger root (probably the most common form since it’s used a lot in baking)
- Preserved ginger – young ginger roots cooked in sugar syrup.
- Crystallized ginger – another type of ginger root cooked in sugar syrup but this time it’s also air-dried and rolled in sugar
- Pickled ginger – thin slices of ginger root pickled in vinegar
Health Benefits Of Ginger
For thousands of years, ginger had a special place in traditional medicine. The ginger plant that originated in China was a popular health remedy for nausea, digestion problems, and flu symptoms. But there are other medicinal properties that make this spice so beneficial for your health. I will be discussing them in more detail in the next few paragraphs.
Ginger Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Ginger contains gingerol, a chemical compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This compound is responsible for many of the medicinal properties of ginger and it is known to reduce inflammation. However, ginger also has other pharmacological effects and properties that can prevent and sometimes even treat health problems.
Ginger Is Highly Effective Against Nausea
Ginger has a long history of use against nausea, morning sickness, motion sickness, and seasickness. It can also relieve post surgery nausea. Furthermore, it can be used as nausea and vomiting relief for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy.
Since ginger can relieve nausea, it is often used by pregnant women to relieve morning sickness symptoms.
If you’re experiencing nausea during pregnancy, you can take 1 gram of ginger daily to prevent it. However, it is recommended to seek medical advice before you use ginger for morning symptoms since large doses can affect the pregnancy.
Ginger For Digestive Problems
Aside from treating nausea and preventing vomiting, ginger can also be effective in treating and preventing other digestive problems, such as indigestion and dyspepsia (chronic indigestion).
Food high in fat is hard to digest and can cause stomach problems. What ginger does, in this case, is speeding up the process of emptying the stomach by producing gastric stimulation. As a result, the discomfort and stomachaches associated with indigestion are reduced.
Ginger Can Reduce Muscle Pain And Tension
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger can relieve muscle pain and tension. Ginger is particularly effective as a pain relief for people who experience muscle pain as a result of physical activity or intense training. Aside from reducing the pain, ginger also lessens the progression of muscle pain. However, it is important to note that ginger doesn’t provide instant relief; it just reduces soreness, pressure, and pain gradually.
Benefits Of Ginger For Arthritis
Arthritis and osteoarthritis are diseases that cause painful inflammation, joint pain, and stiffness of joints. These diseases are degenerative and there is no cure for either of them. However, both arthritis and osteoarthritis can be kept under control with pain relief and anti-inflammatory medicine.
Ginger can prevent some of the inflammatory episodes that normally occur in people who suffer from arthritis and osteoarthritis. On top of that, ginger is also effective in reducing pain and stiffness.
Ginger Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
LDL or bad cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. Usually, cholesterol level rises when we’re eating food that is high in saturated fats. Ginger can reduce cholesterol markers and even lower cholesterol and blood triglycerides.
Ginger can also reduce markers for oxidized lipoproteins. By reducing these risk factors for heart disease, ginger maintains heart health. A study about the effect of ginger on lipoproteins, shows changes in triglyceride and cholesterol levels in people who take ginger extract.
Ginger May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
There is research that shows that ginger can also benefit people who suffer from diabetes because the root’s compounds can lower blood sugar and improve long-term blood sugar level markers such as HbA1c. According to this study, the anti-diabetic and anti-oxidative properties of ginger improve the balance of insulin and blood glucose in diabetic patients.
However, ginger shouldn’t replace a proper diet or be used as an alternative therapy; it should considered a complimentary therapy that helps with keeping blood sugar levels under control.
Gingerol Can Fight Bacteria And Viruses
The active compound of ginger, gingerol, can fight infection and inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. Ginger is particularly effective against oral bacteria that oftentimes leads to gum problems such as gingivitis. Based on a study published by US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, gingerol effectively inhibited the growth of periodontal bacteria.
Based on a review published in the Journal of ethnopharmacology, ginger is also effective against viruses that cause respiratory infections so it is commonly used in treating cold and flu symptoms.
Ginger Powder Can Reduce Menstrual Pain
Ginger offers great pain relief to women who experience dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain). In fact, this clinical study about the Efficacy of Oral Ginger (Zingiber officinale) for Dysmenorrhea finds ginger to be as effective as ibuprofen and other similar over the counter pain medication women usually use to reduce pain.
Ginger Is Great For Cancer Prevention
Due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidants properties, ginger is great for cancer prevention. In some cases, it can also be used as a complementary treatment in patients who suffer from cancer. The Inhibitory Effect of Ginger Extract on Ovarian Cancer Cell Line study claims that ginger extract considerably inhibited the growth of cancer cells in ovarian cancer cell line.
Ginger Promotes Brain Health
Ginger supports brain function and prevents oxidative stress. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties ginger keeps inflammation under control. Consequently, ginger slows down the aging process that can occur due to inflammation.
Since ginger can inhibit the brain’s inflammatory response, it is a great prevention treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. It can enhance brain function, improve reaction time, prevent memory loss, and protect against accelerated aging that causes a decline in brain function. A review titled Zingiber officinale Improves Cognitive Function of the Middle-Aged Healthy Women demonstrates that ginger may enhance the attention and cognitive processing in middle-aged women.
Does Ginger Reduce Belly Fat?
On top of everything that we discussed, it is also believed that ginger can have a significant impact on body weight. Specifically, belly fat. The gingerol in ginger accelerates certain biological activities and enhance calorie burning. So, with proper nutrition, people who consume ginger can lose weight faster.
Ginger may also reduce feelings of hunger, which makes it easy for people who go from eating different types of unhealthy food and huge portions to healthy eating and proper nutrition.
Since ginger can lead to positive changes in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels, it also helps people who struggle with severe weight issues to become healthier faster.
Ginger Water - What Are The Benefits & How To Make It
Ginger water or ginger tea is the most common and easiest way for people to add ginger into their diets. To make a cup of ginger tea, you have to steep approximately 30 grams of freshly sliced ginger root in hot water. Wait until it’s safe to drink and enjoy! If you don’t like the taste, you can add honey and lemon slices to tame down the spice.
When you drink ginger tea, you notice that you warm up. That’s because ginger tea is a diaphoretic tea that warms you up from the inside and promotes perspiration. This makes ginger tea particularly good for cold and flu symptoms but also for nausea.
Is It Good To Drink Ginger Tea every day?
It’s not only good but it is also recommended to drink ginger water everyday. More so when you don’t eat healthy food. It was reported that you can start to see the ginger benefits if you consume or drink ginger water regularly. If you drink ginger water daily, you will help strengthen your digestive system and prevent digestion problems such as nausea, indigestion or heartburn.
How Much Ginger Should I Take Daily?
Ginger is a natural spice that is typically safe for consumption. However, it has potential medical properties that can make it unsuitable for certain people. For example, if you have had kidney stones, you should consume ginger in moderation because ginger contains oxalate. Oxalate can be found in certain types of kidney stones as well. Therefore, it is best to avoid ginger if you have a history of oxalate kidney stones. It is also recommended to talk to your doctor if you want to use ginger for nausea during pregnancy, especially if you want to do it on a regular basis.
As a rule, whenever you feel uncertain about something, whether natural or not, it is best to seek medical advice.
For those who don’t have any medical problems that may prevent them from consuming ginger, the dosage recommended by doctors is 3-4 grams of ginger per day. Pregnant women shouldn’t take more than 1 gram. If you don’t like the tea, you can take ginger supplements. The capsules are just as effective as the tea. To maximize the effects of ginger, make sure you follow a nutritious diet.
As awesome as ginger is, you shouldn’t include ginger in the diet of children under the age of two because the compounds in ginger can be too much for their digestive system.
How To Select And Store Ginger
To reap the benefits of ginger, it is important to learn how to select it and how to store it.
Whenever you can, opt for fresh ginger instead of dried ginger. Fresh ginger not only has a better flavor but it also contains higher levels of the active compound, gingerol.
If you pick fresh ginger, make sure it is firm, wrinkle-free, smooth and with no signs of decay or mold. You can store unpeeled fresh ginger root in the fridge for up three weeks.
If you purchase dried ginger, make sure it’s organic and the package doesn’t contain any other ingredients. For storage, choose an airtight container and place it in your pantry or in any dark and dry place. Stored this way, dried ginger can last for six months.