Ginger is one of those seasonings that adds something special to anything it’s in. Whether ginger is the dominant flavor, like in gingerbread, or whether it serves as that intriguing hint of spice in a stir fry or stew, it offers a nice combination of sweet and spicy that pleases the palate. But surely something that good must be used in moderation, right? Nope. Turns out, daily consumption of ginger offers all sorts of health benefits. Even if you don’t like the flavor, you may want to start taking supplements.
1. Manage acid reflux
Acid reflux, otherwise known as heartburn, is a painful condition that may have you reaching for an over-the-counter medication to relieve your symptoms. Next time, head to the produce section instead. Some of the active substances in ginger are used in heartburn medicines because of ginger’s anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea capabilities. Taking some ginger when you experience acid reflux will manage the symptoms, but evidence also shows that regular ginger consumption can reduce the chance of episodes occurring at all.
2. Anti-inflammatory properties
Another way that ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects can help relates to your joints. Swollen joints limit range of motion and cause intense, chronic pain. The substance in ginger that researchers think reduces inflammation is called gingerol, and it is present in large quantities in the root. Certain studies have also found that ginger is as effective as ibuprofen in reducing joint pain. In fact, researchers determined in 2015 that osteoarthritis sufferers could even relieve pain topically by applying a cream or ointment that contains ginger.
3. Improved skin
Ginger may also be great for your skin, but you don’t necessarily have to apply it topically to see the results. The fact that ginger is so good for digestion has a corollary effect on how your skin looks, because food that sits in the digestive system for too long can create toxic byproducts that manifest in problems like psoriasis, eczema, and acne. Ginger helps on the inside to promote digestion, but can also contribute to clear, smooth skin when it exits your body via perspiration. Ginger may also serve as an antiseptic for small cuts or abrasions.
4. Beat the cancer odds
There is significant hesitation among doctors to recommend holistic or homeopathic treatment for cancer, but doctors at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have reported the finding that ginger is a powerful weapon against cancer cells. More research is needed, but don’t wait until you have cancer to start using ginger. We know that it reduces colon and intestinal inflammation, and thereby reduces your risk for developing digestive cancers.
5. Improved digestion
Ginger helps improve digestion in several ways. It is good at settling an upset stomach, which is why many pregnant women use it to combat morning sickness. Ginger also helps relax cramped intestines, particularly good for sufferers of IBS. It also rids the digestive system of embarrassing gas! If you need yet another reason to eat ginger for your digestive health, it boosts your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from your meals, leading to better overall health.
6. Less painful and frequent headaches
A regular headache can really ruin your day, but a migraine can all but incapacitate you. Beyond agonizing pain, migraines can also cause light sensitivity as well as nausea and vomiting. The more than 200 substances in ginger work together to provide anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and antihistamine effects which appear to help relieve intense migraine symptoms.More study is necessary, but early results seem to show that ginger is at least as effective as other commonly prescribed migraine medicines, but without many of the side effects.
7. Weight loss
Adding ginger to your daily diet may also make it easier to lose weight. It helps enhance calorie burn and drive your body’s metabolism so that food is digested fully between meals. We also know that it plays a role in fat burning, carbohydrate digestion, and insulin secretion, all vital processes involved in how much fat stays stored in the body. Ginger is also thought to help keep you full longer so that you can resist those snack cravings.
8. Control blood sugar
Diabetes diagnoses are skyrocketing, thanks to the sugar-laden diet many of us consume without even realizing it. Sugar is hidden in massive quantities in lots of packaged foods, even things you wouldn’t expect. That’s another good reason to add some ginger to your diet every day. A recent study of people with type 2 diabetes showed that just 2 grams of ginger powder per day lowered their fasting blood sugar levels by 12%.
Another positive side effect of stabilized blood sugar is a reduction in the risk for heart disease. This is just the beginning of the scientific exploration into the connection between ginger and diabetes, but it stands to reason that ginger can help to regular blood sugar in all people, not just diabetics.
9. Fight infection
Not only great for daily use, ginger can give you a boost when you are at risk of infection from an illness or injury. Gingerol lowers the risk of infections and can inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria. It has been shown to be particularly effective against inflammatory gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. Respiratory infections like RSV are also no match for the infection-fighting power of ginger. Daily use of ginger can help to strengthen your immunity against those bugs that get passed around the office or classroom.
Now that you know how beneficial ginger is to your overall health, you may be wondering how to get more of it into your diet. The great news is that ginger is highly adaptable. Peel it first, then grate, slice, dice, or shave it for use in all sorts of recipes, both savory and sweet. It may also be eaten raw or steeped in hot water to make a tea.
For the sake of convenience, don’t hesitate to use dried, ground ginger instead. The method that creates ground ginger does reduce the amount of gingerol, but actually concentrates the level of other beneficial compounds, including shogaols, which also have considerable health benefits. Any which way you like it, ginger is a fine addition to your daily diet.