Ginger – whether you have it in hot water with honey and apple cider vinegar to start the day, or if you’re cooking a stir fry with it, ginger has a number of health benefits.( Ginger Nut biscuits however, don’t count )
Ginger is a flowering plant that originated from China. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, and is closely related to turmeric, cardamom and galangal.
The rhizome (underground part of the stem) is the part commonly used as a spice. It is often called ginger root, or simply ginger.
Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, and is sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics.
Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine.
It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name just a a few.
The unique fragrance and flavour of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.
Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties and it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Here are just some of the benefits your brain and your body will experience when you consume ginger.
Improve Brain Function and Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process. They are believed to be among the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
There is some evidence that ginger can enhance brain function directly. In a study of 60 middle-aged women, ginger extract was shown to improve reaction time and working memory.
It’s an anti-inflammatory.
Like other produce such as nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains, ginger contains antioxidant-like compounds called phytonutrients that may reduce cell damage. It can reduce your risk of diabetes.
Scientists have linked some active compounds in ginger with improvements in insulin and metabolism. Dried and fresh ginger is great to have on-hand for flavouring smoothies, stir-frys or soups. Whilst some chemical compounds in ginger may decrease over time, the drying process enhances other beneficial ones.
It can help with morning sickness.
Ginger may help reduce symptoms of morning sickness! In fact, research supports the safety and efficacy of ginger during pregnancy.
It’s a natural way to relieve period pain.
The research done on ginger’s pain-relieving properties, show that it helps with menstrual pain the most. Check with your GP before trying any supplement in extract or pill form, since it may interact with other medications you’re taking.
It can settle an upset stomach.Research has linked multiple digestive benefits to ginger, specifically acting on parts of your GI tract responsible for feelings of nausea, stomach upset, and vomiting.
It can help with indigestion.Research demonstrates ginger has been shown to speed up emptying of the stomach in people with chronic indigestion (dyspepsia).
It may help prevent heart disease.
The same anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger can also reduce the risk of chronic disease. A 2016 review linked regular ginger intake with lower cholesterol and blood sugar compared to a placebo.
It may lower your risk of cancer.
The cell-protecting properties of ginger can lower the long-term risk of certain cancers. That’s because the spice and other flavourings may reduce cellular activity that causes DNA changes, cell death, and proliferation of cancer cells.
Whilst ginger’s not a cure-all for any chronic disease, using it regularly with loads of other spices and plant-based foods can help benefit health overall.
Dr Clara Russell