Ginger is one of the world’s oldest and most popular medicinal spices, having been cultivated and used therapeutically for thousands of years. It is mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings as being prized for its culinary and medicinal properties. It is known to aid greatly in digestion and is widely regarded to help prevent colds, flu, motion sickness, and vertigo.
Ginger can also help to alleviate menstrual cramps, nausea, heartburn, migraines, sore throats, exhaustion, fatigue, and constipation and it is great in providing relief from the stomach flu and food poisoning.
Ginger is part of the Zingiberaceae plant family that includes turmeric and cardamom (both powerful natural remedies as well), which may explain it is so beneficial. Full of micronutrients and minerals, it is classified as one of the world’s healthiest spices according to The World’s Healthiest Foods.
How Ginger Helps
Below are eight key ways that incorporating ginger into a Nutritional Balancing Program can improve your health.
#1: Aids digestion
Ginger increases the digestive fluids and saliva to promote regular digestion and metabolism of your food. It also relaxes the smooth muscle in your gut lining to help food move throughout the system (called gastric motility). This is one reason ginger helps people who are bloated, constipated and have other gastrointestinal disorders.
It also helps to activate the enzymes in the body that assimilate essential nutrient absorption. Proper food transport (and nutrient absorption) is important to your health so that food doesn’t get stuck somewhere between the mouth and the colon. If this happens, it can ferment, rot or putrefy causing all kinds of problems including nutritional deficiencies.
Additionally, ginger inhibits reflux, helping to soothe the effects of heartburn better than some medications.
#2: Helps with inflammation and pain
Contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that can help relieve symptoms of arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatism. It is a powerful painkiller making it especially beneficial for those who suffer from joint, muscle, and nerve pain.
#3: Boosts immune system
Ginger has incredible immune-boosting and germ fighting abilities and has even been shown to help provide protection and relief from E. coli, Staph infections, and Candida albicans. Ginger can help promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flu. A good sweat may do a lot more than simply assist detoxification.
#4: Calms nausea
Ginger’s anti-vomiting action has been shown to be very useful in reducing the morning sickness, nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, even the most severe form that can result in hospitalization. It is also a natural remedy to relieve the effects of motion sickness, which is caused by conflicting messages received from the inner ears, eyes and other organs of the body.
#5: Helps control diabetes
Ginger is naturally low on the Glycemic Index (meaning it has a low impact on blood sugar), so it helps to reduce levels of serum glucose and maintain blood sugar levels.
#6: Boosts brain function
The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of ginger have shown promise as a natural medicine in the management of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. It has also been studied as a method of overcoming symptoms of dyslexia, a condition of the brain where numbers and letters are often seen backward or upside down.
#7: Antihistamine and decongestant
Ginger helps to decongest cold and flu-like symptoms while relieving headaches and sore throats.
#8: Assists in weight loss
Ginger can act as a fat burner by maintaining satiety and make you feel full for longer.
Using ginger in your diet
Another nice thing about ginger, apart from benefiting our health, of course, is the flavor it brings to our foods. There are many forms of ginger available and a great variety of ways to use them, but fresh is always best. Ginger root is available year round in the produce section of your local market. When purchasing fresh ginger root, make sure it is firm, smooth and free of mold. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks if it is left unpeeled. Store unpeeled in the freezer, and it will keep for up to six months.
To remove the skin from fresh ginger, peel with a paring knife or potato peeler. The ginger can then be sliced, minced or julienned. The taste that ginger brings to a dish depends upon when it is added during the cooking process. Added at the beginning, it will lend a subtle flavor while added near the end, it will deliver a more pungent taste. If you find fresh ginger too strong for your liking, then try using ginger powder, tea, or essential oil.
Dried ginger powder should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Alternatively, you can store it in the refrigerator where it will enjoy an extended shelf life of about one year. Add dried ginger during cooking or food preparation as noted above.
You can make ginger tea by adding freshly grated ginger to water and let steep for 10-20 minutes. Use one teaspoon grated ginger (or ½ teaspoon ginger powder) in a mug then pour boiling water over and brew tea to desired strength.
The most potent form of ginger is Ginger essential oil because it contains the highest levels of the gingerol compound. In this form, it can be used for cooking, added to water to make tea or even used in a cool mist diffuser.
What is your favorite way to include ginger in your diet?