Ginger root has accompanied mankind since time immemorial. Astonishingly, people have dedicated legends and treatises to this little root, claiming that it has been wrested from sea traders by pirates. It was even used as a unit of currency for a while.
Ginger is also a part of many spiritual rituals. The ancient sages believed that it could purify the body and soul and prepare a person for contact with the gods and deceased ancestors. Ginger has saved its miraculous properties to this day and is now just as popular and loved by many people.
Ginger – Nutrition facts
Ginger has a medium energy value, low protein, fat, sugar and fibre content, and a good content of carbs. It also has a very low glycemic index which is perfect for blood glucose levels and contains essential micronutrients including potassium, vitamin C and magnesium.
Ginger – Good spicy news
Ginger is one of the most famous and useful plants in the world, having been used for centuries as a spice to flavour food and as a medicinal plant.
1Can improve brain function
There is some evidence that ginger can directly improve brain function. In a 2012 study of healthy, Thai, middle-aged women, daily doses of ginger extract were shown to improve reaction speed and working memory.
2May help prevent different types of cancer
Ginger’s anti-cancer properties are due to the large quantities of gingerol as it contains the most potent anticancerous compound. Gingerol is considered particularly effective in its anti-cancer properties.
A 2011 study of people at normal risk of colorectal cancer showed that 2 grams of ginger extract a day could reduce pro-inflammatory signalling molecules in the colon.
3Helps treat chronic indigestion
Chronic indigestion (dyspepsia) is characterised by intermittent pain and discomfort in the upper stomach. Stomach retention is thought to be the main cause of indigestion. Ginger, surprisingly, speeds up the emptying of the stomach.
In one study, taking ginger compared to placebo significantly accelerated gastric emptying. It took 13.1 minutes in people who took ginger and 26.7 minutes in people who took a placebo.
Constipation and faecal retention can worsen dyspepsia symptoms in all age groups. For example, up to 70% of children with dyspepsia show delayed stomach emptying.
4Can help with osteoarthritis
Ginger has been an important ingredient in Asian medicine for centuries, especially for relieving pain in musculoskeletal disorders.
One review showed that people who used ginger to treat osteoarthritis had a significant reduction in pain and disability.
Another study in 2011 showed that a combination of ginger, mastic, cinnamon and sesame oil could help reduce pain and stiffness in people with knee osteoarthritis.
5Reduces menstrual cramps
Dysmenorrhoea is pain felt during the menstrual cycle. One of the traditional uses of ginger is to relieve pain, including menstrual pain.
In a 2009 study, 150 students were offered either ginger or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the first 3 days of their menstrual period.
Three groups received four daily doses of either ginger powder (250 mg), mefenamic acid (250 mg) or ibuprofen (400 mg). Ginger was able to reduce pain as effectively as the two NSAIDs.
6Could help with weight loss
A 2019 review showed that taking ginger reduces body weight and waist-to-hip ratio in people who are overweight or obese. Compounds called zingerone and shogaols found in ginger may help with weight loss, according to a 2017 review. These compounds may be beneficial for complex body processes that burn and store fat.
In a 2015 study, 80 obese women took two 1-gram tablets of powdered ginger a day for 12 weeks. This group had reduced appetite and body size compared to those who took a placebo. The effect was more pronounced in people with a certain set of genes. This may indicate that ginger may work better for weight loss in some people than others. However, more research is needed to confirm this.
7May treat nausea and vomiting
A study in a group of people found that ginger helped 14% of patients beat nausea after surgery, compared to a group that received a placebo.
8Has powerful medicinal properties
The unique aroma and taste of ginger are due to its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol. This oil is responsible for most of the healing properties of ginger.
According to research, gingerol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. For example, it can help reduce oxidative stress, which is the result of excess free radicals in the body.
Ginger – Bad news
Ginger, like any other product, can cause adverse effects in some people.
If you regularly take any medication, consult your doctor before using ginger supplements. They may interact with blood thinners and medicines for diabetes and high blood pressure.
Ginger consumption in big volumes can promote bleeding. This is because it inhibits thrombocytes’ thromboxane. This is a substance produced by thrombocytes that causes blood to clot and constricts blood vessels.
Fun & curious facts about ginger
The common name for this spice is ‘zingiberis’, which comes from the Greek zingiberis. This word is in turn derived from the Sanskrit name of the spice, singabera.
Ginger has a therapeutic effect called sialagogue, which is responsible for stimulating saliva production.
Ginger in the Blue Zones
Spices are an important aspect of the Blue Zone diet. And ginger is no exception, especially for the long-livers of Okinawa, Japan. They add it to various dishes and also make ginger lemonade.
Let’s sum ginger up
Consuming ginger in your diet can improve brain function, protect you from various types of cancer, relieve you from pain from osteoarthritis and menstrual pain, help with indigestion and weight loss and get rid of nausea and vomiting. Ginger also has some side effects when it interacts with medication and can also cause bleeding in some people.
Not enough? Here is more from our colleagues!
Here is a video of Dr. Eric Berg who specializes in Healthy Ketosis and Intermittent Fasting. He is the director of Dr. Berg’s Nutritionals and a best-selling amazon.com author. In this video, Dr. Berg will tell you about the benefits of ginger.
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