Ginger has long been a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine and has been making inroads into American diets. Though many know ginger as a way to add a spicy kick to any meal or drink, it is more than just a flavor add-in. There’s a long history of using this underground stem (not a root) for various medicinal benefits.
Relief from nausea and motion sickness
Early sailors were known to use the spice to help cure seasickness, but these days it works just as well on regular motion sickness experienced riding in a car. Some studies have even shown the ingredient is as effective at combating nausea as Dramamine (dimenhydrinate). Over the years, ginger has been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting caused by morning sickness, chemo treatments, motion sickness, and more.
When you eat, gasses form in your intestinal track during your digestion. These can build up over time, causing discomfort. Several studies have looked into ginger’s ability to help break up and push out this gas from your system. It also helps benefit helpful enzymes in your body like trypsin and pancreatic lipase, two enzymes that aid in digestion. On top of that, studies are showing that it might relieve or prevent constipation.
Boosts brain health
Some brain disorders are linked to chronic inflammation in the brain. This is where ginger’s anti-inflammatory benefits can really help protect against a range of issues like dementia and PTSD. Because ginger increases your serotonin and dopamine levels while also reducing inflammation, it is thought to help fight off depression. Some studies have also linked increased ginger intake to better memory and attention in subjects, which could help slow Alzheimer’s progress.
Better pain management
Ginger contains gingerol, a substance known to help with inflammation in the body. A study from the University of Miami found that ginger was as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs at helping ease acute and chronic pains. Its usefulness in managing chronic pains makes it an excellent choice for managing long-term conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger is also helpful at managing shorter-term pains, like the aches you feel after a good workout.
May help with some cancers
Studies are still in the early stages, but early results show that a form of gingerol has powerfully protective properties against some cancers. By helping protect your cells against DNA changes, ginger can help lower certain cancer risks. It has also been shown to make radiation and chemotherapy more effective by making tumors more receptive to the treatments.
Weight loss aid
In one study, people who took ginger supplements showed significant reductions in body weight, waist to hip ratio, and hip ratio in people who were overweight or obese. Another study revealed that ginger supplements seemed to lower body mass index and blood insulin levels.
Reduce menstrual pain
Ginger has been used for centuries in Asia to reduce the cramps and pains associated with menstruation. Modern studies show that this traditional remedy is as effective as mefenamic acid and ibuprofen, two common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Not only is ginger as effective, but it is also easier on your gastrointestinal system as ibuprofen and also helps with other symptoms like nausea.
LDL is your bad cholesterol, and high LDL levels are tied to a greater risk of heart disease. In multiple studies, people who took ginger powder saw their LDL levels drop. In fact, ginger lowered cholesterol levels similarly to atorvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug. It was also found to lower cholesterol overall as well as blood triglycerides.
Fights infection and colds
Fresh ginger sipped as a tea or taken in a tonic has been shown to increase the number of T cells in your body. Studies have shown that it is very effective against the bacterias found in the mouth that lead to gingivitis and periodontitis. In addition to your mouth, ginger is also great at dealing with bacterias in your gut and respiratory systems. It can help you with food poisoning, colds, and flu.
Get started with ginger
Adding ginger to your diet is effortless. There are so many flavorful ways you can eat more ginger, including:
- Shakes and smoothies
- Ginger root teas
- Southeast Asian foods
- Sweet treats
Ginger is undoubtedly a food worthy of the term superfood. It has almost no calories but benefits your body’s systems at practically every level. Plus, it’s tasty and adds an exciting kick to drinks and dishes. If you haven’t already added ginger into your regular diet, now’s a great time to get started.