What are the health benefits of ginger?

Ginger is a very popular spice regularly used in Asian cuisines. The ginger root, also called the rhizome, is the edible part that is used as a spice to add flavour to foods.

Turmeric, galangal, cardamom and ginger belong to the same family. It is used whole or in the form of a paste or oil. It can also be dried and used in the form of a powder.

Ginger is a versatile ingredient that adds a burst of flavour to any dish. But ginger’s use is not limited to only food. Ginger is also believed to have several medicinal properties and is said to cure a number of common ailments.

In Eastern and traditional medicines, ginger has often been used to treat nausea, indigestion and stomach pain. Modern research has shown that ginger indeed has some significant health benefits.

What are the benefits of consuming ginger?

  1. A powerful antioxidant: Ginger gets its unique, spicy flavour from the natural oils present in it, most importantly, gingerol. Gingerol is said to reverse oxidative stress and is a powerful antioxidant agent.

Gingerol is basically a bioactive compound that lends ginger its unique flavour and is responsible for most of its medicinal properties. Besides being an antioxidant, gingerol is also an anti-inflammatory agent.

  • A natural treatment for nausea: Ginger is touted to be an effective treatment against all types of nausea. Be it nausea related to pregnancy or as a side effect of chemotherapy, ginger is said to provide relief.

However, ginger has a reputation for causing vaginal bleeding and unnatural blood clotting. So, it is advised for pregnant women to consume ginger only after consulting with their doctor.

  • Helps in weight management: Some studies have shown that ginger helps in losing weight in obese people.

Those who supplement their diets with ginger, either in the form of powder or as ginger water, saw a lowering in body mass index, and reduced hip-waist ratio.

Ginger aiding in weight loss can be due to its ability to speed up digestion, aid metabolism, and reduce inflammation.

  • Can reduce pain as a result of osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a very common health problem that affects millions worldwide. It causes significant pain and disability and affects the quality of life.

Research has shown that consuming ginger topically, alongside cinnamon and sesame oil, has significantly helped reduce joint pain caused due to osteoarthritis.

  • Helps with diabetes and heart disease: Although the research is still in the early stages, there are credible results that show that ginger helps lower blood sugar levels.

Supplementing the diet of type 2 diabetes sufferers with ginger for a couple of months has shown impressive results. Ginger has lowered blood sugar levels, as well as lower the risks associated with heart disease.

  • Treats indigestion: Indigestion is another very common problem that affects millions. It is characterised by discomfort and pain in the upper part of the stomach.

Those who suffer from functional dyspepsia, have shown significant improvement in stomach pain and discomfort after consuming ginger.

  • Helps alleviate menstrual pain: Dysmennorhea is a very common problem seen in menstruating women, which is often ignored by medical professionals.

Women often resort to painkillers to manage menstrual pain, which can have other adverse effects on the body. Ginger can be a natural home remedy to treat and manage menstrual pain.

Ginger can help relieve pain in different parts of the body. Menstrual pain, too, can be managed by consuming ginger.

  • A preventative measure for cancer: Gingerol, the natural bioactive oil present in ginger, is said to be anti-inflammatory. Due to this property of ginger, it is said to prevent cancer.

Giger has been shown to prevent liver and pancreatic cancer with moderate results. However, ginger’s cancer-fighting properties need to be studied further.

  • Can lower the risk of infections: Ginger reduces inflammation. This makes it the ideal ingredient to fight infections. Ginger has been shown to reduce gingivitis and help lower the risk of periodontal disease.
  • Helps with the common cold: In the Eastern world, especially India, it is a norm to consume ginger tea during the flu season, as it is believed to be an excellent remedy for common cold and cough.

Modern research has shown that there is some substance in this ancient belief. Ginger is actually an effective treatment against common respiratory viruses.

  1. Offers protection against Alzheimer’s disease: Inflammation tends to accelerate the ageing process. Oxidative stress, too, makes us age faster. These factors cause age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ginger has a proven anti-inflammatory nature that helps fight dementia. Studies show that ginger even helps with working memory in middle-aged women.

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How to incorporate ginger into your diet?

The best way to include ginger into your diet is to have it like tea. Ginger lemon tea is a classic favourite that feels comforting on a cold evening.

To make it, boil an inch of fresh ginger in a saucepan. Take one cup of water. Boil for a few minutes. Ideally, within five minutes of boiling, you should have a strong ginger flavour.

Strain the tea and serve hot. Add a dash of lemon juice for that tangy freshness. You might also drizzle some honey or maple syrup if you want to balance the tartness from the lemon and the spicy taste of the ginger.

You can make a lot of variations of this recipe. For a more warm, winter-appropriate flavour, add a cinnamon stick to the water when you are boiling the ginger.

To make a strong, immunity-boosting tea that will help take care of cough and cold, consider adding turmeric and cloves into the tea. The flavour will be even stronger and more soothing.

Wrapping it up

Ginger has had a long-standing reputation for being a miracle cure for a number of common ailments. It is especially popular both as a spice as well as a medicinal plant in the oriental world.

Modern research now shows how accurate these age-old usages have been. So, make sure to include ginger in your diet.   

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