Ginger is not one of those plants and spices that are easy to love. It has a strong taste and odor, and lends a distinct taste to various dishes. Still, while many people may have a strong reaction to ginger root, many more are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of ginger to one’s health.
Originally from Southeast Asia, ginger is one of the world’s oldest known spices. This flowering plant is widely farmed across the world because it can grow in a variety of land types and areas. The rhizome or the part that grows underground is the part commonly used as a spice.
Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice. In its different forms, ginger is also added to processed foods and cosmetics.
Belonging to the family of plants that includes turmeric and cardamom, ginger is used worldwide to spice up meals and serve as an ingredient for a wide array of food items including candy, pickled vegetables, tea, soda, and alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine.
Ginger is also one of the world’s healthiest spices and is widely used in medicine. This practice dates back to the time of Confucius when Chinese sailors carried ginger on ships and consumed them to prevent scurvy.
These days, ginger is taken to treat minor discomforts, and perhaps serve as a deterrent to more serious diseases. Over time, ginger has been known to provide the following benefits:
Calms nausea. Next time, take some ginger if you’re feeling queasy or nauseated. Ginger is believed to break built-up gas in the intestines, and are particularly helpful in settling stomachs while pregnant, seasick, or recovering from chemotherapy.
Soothes sore muscles. It may not relieve muscle pain right away, but studies into the effects of ginger on people and exercise show that taking ginger may reduce the soreness one may feel the following day.
Relieves menstrual period pains. Ginger may actually help alleviate pain from menstrual cramps. Studies report that women felt some relief from menstrual pain after taking 1,500 milligrams of ginger powder once a day for three days during their cycle.
Eases symptoms of arthritis. Ginger reduces swelling because it has anti-inflammatory properties. These make the spice particularly useful in treating symptoms of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Taking ginger by mouth or using a ginger compress or patch on the skin may help relieve pain and reduce swelling.
Relieves indigestion. Taking ginger before meals may help empty the stomach faster, and leave less time for food to cause problems. This would certainly bring relief to people with chronic indigestion or dyspepsia.
Aside from treating various discomforts, ginger may also keep one healthy as it:
May help with weight loss. Different studies conducted in humans and animals concluded that taking ginger supplements significantly reduced body weight and blood insulin levels and may be helpful in addressing obesity.
The link between ginger and weight loss, however, is more evident in animals. Research has shown that rats and mice that regularly ingested ginger water or ginger extract reduced their body weight, even when they were on high-fat diets.
While more studies need to be conducted in humans, ginger’s influence on weight loss may be due to its potential to burn calories or reduce inflammation.
Fights germs. Fresh ginger has certain chemical compounds that are known to ward off germs. These compounds are particularly good at stopping the growth of bacteria such as E.coli and shigella, both of which comes from contaminated food and water and can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Fresh ginger can also deter viruses such as the respiratory syncytial virus, which is a common respiratory virus that largely causes symptoms similar to a mild cold.
Keeps mouth healthy. Ginger contains active compounds known as gingerols that hinder the growth of oral bacteria. This thus provides protection from a serious gum infection called periodontal disease.
Helps regulate sugar levels. While ginger has been around for a long time, more studies continue to be undertaken to determine its benefits to humankind.
More recently, a small study suggested that ginger can help the body in utilizing insulin and thus regulate sugar levels. Larger studies, however, need to be conducted to determine if ginger can actually improve blood sugar levels.
Lowers cholesterol. A recent study showed that a daily dose of 5 grams of ginger per day for three months lowered levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) by an average of 30 points.
This may indicate that a regular dose of ginger may be crucial to combatting LDL or bad cholesterol levels.
Curbs cancer growth. While more research needs to be conducted, certain studies suggest that the growth of colorectal, gastric, ovarian, liver, skin, breast, and prostate cancer may be prevented by the bioactive molecules in ginger.
Confirmation requires further and extensive studies, but the possibility of using ginger and other natural elements provide positive inroads into fighting the deadly disease.
Promotes healthy aging. Better still, ginger may actually promote health well into old age. Animal studies suggest that ginger has properties that can inhibit oxidative stress and chronic inflammation in the brain, which can accelerate the aging process and drive Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
Generally, loads of information on the properties and compounds of ginger point to the tremendous protection against diseases provided by such a humble plant. More importantly, ginger is loaded with antioxidants, which is like having insurance against various health conditions.
Antioxidants are compounds that prevent stress and damage to the body’s DNA. Taking ginger and other types of food that are rich in antioxidants can help the body fight off chronic diseases including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diseases of the lungs.
Ginger, however, is evidently a true superfood! Who knew that such a common spice can be loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that generate powerful benefits for the body and brain?
Always consult a health professional on serious health issues, but for ensuring overall general health and well-being, don’t forget to reach for some ginger on your next supermarket run.
(Note: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only and not to be treated as a professional opinion, recommendation or diagnosis.)
To know more about the health benefits of ginger, watch video below: