It is said that ginger is one of the most powerful, versatile superfoods, being equally delicious and nutritious. But what makes ginger so special? It seems ginger has been associated with almost everything from motion sickness to brain function, having a lasting impact just about every aspect of our health.
Available fresh, dried, in capsule or juice form, the ginger root is packed with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties that increase the body’s ability to fight a wide range of diseases.
But let’s see together all the unique benefits of this superstar ingredient.
- Ginger Stimulates Digestion
If you feel uncomfortable after eating, if you have a slow digestive system or experience burping and acid reflux, indigestion or heartburn, ginger can be your best friend.
Ginger can help you treat chronic indigestion, upper abdominal discomfort, reflux and heartburn by increasing the motility of the digestive system. Doing this, it is helping your body to empty more quickly the food from the stomach. Increasing motility through the digestive system, ginger helps relieve gastrointestinal irritation and prevents constipation.
An extra benefit that occurs when the gastric emptying speed doubles is that your metabolism will improve, gaining the energy that was consumed before by the undigested food.
Other compounds ginger has, help stimulate saliva and bile production, suppressing this way the gastric contractions as the food moves through the tract.
Ginger can improve the metabolism this way, increasing your energy levels while all the vitamins and minerals are absorbed easier by the body.
- Lowers Blood Pressure
Ginger acts like a vasodilator that expands the blood vessels, increasing the circulation in the body. This way, it improves the blood pressure, lowering in the same time the risk of blood clotting. Known as a good natural treatment for heart disease since it can reduce the overall blood pressure throughout the body, ginger can also reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and the blood triglyceride levels that contribute to fatty buildups in arteries. Doing this, ginger decreases the risk of atherosclerosis, strokes and heart attack.
- Reduces Nausea
Ginger is a good remedy for nausea and can be used during pregnancy when you experience morning sickness, to treat the post-surgery effects or even during chemotherapy. It can ease a queasy stomach; it can help you get rid of built-up gas in your intestines and even if does not prevent vomiting in motion sickness, it can reduce the amount of nausea; it also has a long history of use as a sea sickness remedy.
- Reduces Menstrual Pains
Ginger can help relieve menstrual cramps and menstrual pain, protecting against the increases in inflammation. So, if you feel a discomfort while you’re at your period and if this pain is not caused by an underlying condition such as Endometriosis, ginger will help you protect against menstrual pain and the menstrual cramps that appear because of the excessive production of prostaglandins (pro inflammatory chemicals that trigger muscle contractions, helping the uterus shed its lining).
In addition, it can also help you control heavy menstrual bleeding, if taken at the beginning of the menstrual period, so next time you experience pain during your menstrual cycle, give ginger a try.
- Blood-Sugar Regulator
Supplementing your diet with ginger can help you regulate your blood sugar levels and reduce the hemoglobin A1c levels, one of the main causes of Type 2 diabetes.
Ginger not only has powerful anti-diabetic properties, but keeping your blood levels in check will also eliminates a major risk factor for heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Reduces Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is the root of several damaging diseases from the autoimmune ones to cancer. Ginger is known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and this is why it is used for centuries to treat such conditions, protecting the body from injuries and sickness.
Being able to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines that are responsible for such inflammatory reactions, ginger and its active compounds (gingerol, paradol and shogaol) is used to treat the chronic inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.
There are several studies that showed ginger is effective in reducing symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness that is present in osteoarthritis, as well. So, if you are experiencing an inflammatory condition, add ginger in your diet and this natural and powerful remedy will do wonders, reducing the overall amount of inflammation in your body.
- Reduces Muscle Pain and Soreness
Ginger can also tame muscle pain and soreness after workout and even if it doesn’t have an immediate impact, people who took ginger, have experienced a reduced day to day progression of muscle pain and less exercise-induced muscle soreness. The effects seem to be mediated by its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Has Antibacterial Properties
As we said before, ginger has a great potential in treating a wide range of inflammatory diseases but it is also very effective in the treatment of microbial diseases. Its antibacterial benefits made researchers believe that food can truly be medicine.
Ginger contributes to health and healing, inhibiting the growth of pathogens that can determine serious gum infections such as gingivitis or periodontitis and it also has effective properties that fight against lots of drug-resistant bacteria like E. coli and Bacillus.
Its antibacterial power can keep oral bacteria from growing, keeping your mouth healthy and brightening your smile. Fresh ginger can also fight against RSV virus, inhibiting the main cause of respiratory infections.
9. May Help Prevent Cancer
Since tumor growth is linked with oxidative stress and inflammation, ginger can prevent and be effective against several types of cancer, because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants attributes.
Gingerol, a main compound of ginger can reduce the pro-inflammatory signaling molecules in the colon and can activate a tumor suppressor gene that plays a role in metastasis. But ginger can also be effective against pancreatic, ovarian and breast cancer.
The fact that this herb doesn’t have toxic effects even when consumed in high doses in comparison with chemo and radiation that are very invasive treatments, make ginger a good alternative in this fight against cancer.
- Improves Brain Function
Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are also associated with age-related cognitive decline and diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The bioactive compounds in ginger that are able to inhibit the inflammatory responses from the brain can enhance brain function directly, improving reaction time and working memory.
Except its anti-inflammatory and antioxidants properties, ginger can provide a variety of nutrients.
In 100 grams (g) of fresh ginger root, there are:
- 15 g of iron
- 7 mg of vitamin C
- 33 mg of potassium
- vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate, riboflavin, niacin, calcium
Let’s see how these minerals and vitamins can help our body and support our well-being.
Iron for example, is responsible to carry oxygen in red blood cells supporting the immune system to fight against infection and cancerous cells.
Vitamin C is packed with antioxidants that can fight the free radicals in your body that are the main cause of lots of illnesses.
Manganese is another strong antioxidant that protects the internal structure of the cells from the oxidative damage. It is also important in the development of bones and cartilages.
Magnesium can relax the muscles that are lining the blood vessel walls, facilitating the blood flow and lowering the blood pressure. It can also lower the levels of triglycerides and it can increase the good cholesterol. This way, magnesium contributes to our heart health.
Potassium and calcium can carry an electric charge, stimulating nerve impulses and muscle contractions. Vitamin B-6 slows down the levels of homocysteine that are associated with cardiovascular disease, helping the cardiovascular system. Quite impressive, isn’t it?
Now that we know all these benefits ginger has; we should incorporate it in our diet. We can enjoy fresh ginger root that is the most potent and versatile option, we can add ground ginger in our dishes and smoothie recipes, we can enjoy ginger tea, especially if we feel nausea or have stomach pains or take ginger capsules or supplements for easy every day consumption.