Over the years man has discovered many ‘superfoods’, there are over 10 proven health benefits of ginger. Ginger is a spice root plant originating from Southeast Asia and has been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, the rhizome (Zingiber officinale plant) is used as a spice and is commonly referred to as ginger root or just ginger and is closely related to galangal, turmeric, and cardamom.
Ginger can be used in different ways dried, freshly cut, powdered, as juice, or infused into oils. It is used as a spice in most recipes, and present in some medicines, cosmetics, and processed food. It is a home remedy for cough nausea, catarrh, stomach pain, and other minor health issues.
Ginger is used as a food seasoning, as herbal tea (usually with honey), and as a face mask during skincare routines, and its supplements are taken for considered health benefits. Ginger root contains natural antioxidants in the form of vitamin E and other nutrients which help in the treatment or prevention of inflammation, nausea, and a variety of infections.
10 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger You Should Know About
In this article, we have listed at least 10 proven health benefits of ginger and their supporting scientific research.
1. Treatment of Nausea
This may be considered the oldest health benefit of ginger discovered by man. Research has backed the claims of old midwives about ginger helping with nausea in pregnancy. Ginger breaks up built-up gas in the intensities and gets rid of it; this stops the feeling of nausea or even seasickness. Ginger also relieves vomiting for people working and undergoing some types of surgery and chemotherapy-induced nausea.
A review carried out on 10 studies centered on pregnant women showed that about 1-1.5 grams of ginger significantly reduced the symptoms of nausea or “morning sickness”. However pregnant women are advised to seek the counsel of a medical practitioner before taking larger doses of ginger. Women who may have experienced miscarriages or are close to labor are not advised to take ginger as it has been contraindicated with clotting disorders and vaginal bleeding.
2. Contains Gingerol
The main bioactive compound in ginger is gingerol which is responsible for the health properties ginger possesses. The practice of using ginger in various forms of alternative and traditional medicines dates thousands of years. It has been used to reduce nausea, and inflammation, treat infections, and aid digestion, and the common cold.
It has anti-inflammatory properties and contains antioxidants that are very effective in mopping up free radicals which cause oxidative stress in cells. Ginger’s unique flavor comes from its natural oils of which gingerol is the most prominent.
3. May reduce menstrual pain
150 women were instructed during a study in 2009 to take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or take 250mg of ginger for the first 3 days of their menstrual period. It was found that ginger reduced dysmenorrhea (pain felt during the menstrual cycle) as effectively as NSAIDs.
Recent studies have also indicated that ginger is also effective for other pains and has been said to have the same effects as mefenamic acid, caffeine, ibuprofen(novafen), and acetaminophen. These findings however still need to be heavily researched using a larger number of study participants.
4. May relieve osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds which are very effective against swelling and pain. It has been found to help treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a common health problem characterized by joint degeneration leading to stiffness and pain in the joints. A study carried out in 2011 pointed out that using ginger, sesame oil, cinnamon, and mastic together may help reduce joint stiffness and pains in the knee of people with osteoarthritis. Many other studies have shown ginger effectively reduces symptoms of osteoarthritis, especially that of the knee. Using a ginger patch on your skin or eating it can cause relief from pain and swelling.
Although in another study 22% were dissatisfied with the taste of ginger but saw significant reductions in their pain and disability. The participants in this study received about 500 milligrams (mg) to 1 gram of ginger daily for about 3 to 12 weeks.
5. Weight loss
Recent studies have shown that ginger may play a role in weight loss. A 2019 study showed that the use of ginger supplements significantly reduced entire body weight, waist-hip ratio, and hip ratio in overweight or obsessed people. It was also noticed that the body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels were reduced. The ability of ginger to play a role in weight loss may be related to its ability to increase the number of calories burned and or reduce inflammation.
6. Prevention and treatment of infections, fighting germs
Fresh ginger contains certain antibacterial compounds that aid the body to fight germs. Ginger helps to fight harmful bacteria and viruses by reducing the chances of viral and bacterial infections. The bioactive compound gingerol also inhibits the growth of oral bacteria which are responsible for gum inflammation, infections, and other periodontal diseases.
Its extract inhibits or halts the growth of different types of viruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and bacteria like E.coli and shigella. Various studies have shown its extracts are very effective against the oral bacteria that cause gingivitis and periodontitis. The antioxidants in ginger also prevent DNA damage, and cell stress and guard the body’s fight against other chronic diseases like lung diseases, heart diseases, and HBP, and promote healthy aging. In other words, ginger supports the immune system however more research on how it affects the immune system is still ongoing.
7. Reduces blood sugars and Improves overall heart health
Although this area of research is still new, some studies have shown ginger to have very strong anti-diabetic properties. These studies have shown significant reductions in fasting blood sugar improved HbA1c (a long-term marker for high blood sugar levels), reduction in the Apolipoprotein B to Apolipoprotein A-I ratio, and reduction in malondialdehyde (MDA) a byproduct of oxidative stress. A major risk factor for heart disease is a high ApoB/ApoA-I ratio and high MDA in the body.
Another study carried on in 2017 of 4,628 people showed that an intake of ginger daily may protect against diabetes, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, cerebrovascular diseases, fatty liver disease, and chronic disease. It was concluded that ginger might have the potential to be used as a preventive therapy.
However, it is important to remember that further research is still needed in this area especially if ginger may support treatment for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So far the results of concluded studies have been very impressive but larger studies must be carried out before recommendations can be made
8. Lowering cancer risk
Gingerol, a bioactive compound contained in ginger has been found to have anti-cancer properties. A firm of gingerol known as -gingerol has been found to actively reduce the risk of cancer. Some other bioactive compounds in ginger inhibit the growth of specific cancers like colorectal, ovarian, liver, gastric, skin, prostate, liver, and breast cancers.
However, this research is still ongoing although the antioxidants present in ginger reduce various types of oxidative stress in cells which are precursors for cancer growth. Oxidative stress happens when there’s a build-up of free radicals in the body. These Free radicals are produced during metabolism and may be toxic. Antioxidants in ginger mop up these free radicals as they can lead to various health issues like cancer, chronic inflammation, heart attack, and rheumatoid arthritis. Ginger is being studied as an alternative treatment therapy for various forms of cancer as it has been found to cause the death of cancer cells.
9. Relieves Sore Muscles
Putting a patch of ginger or eating ginger has been found to soothe sore muscles over time. The pain does go away in an instant but a 2012 study showed that people who got sore muscles and aches from exercise and took ginger, experienced less pain the next day than those who didn’t take ginger.
10. May help in chronic indigestion
A leading cause of indigestion is delayed stomach emptying. Symptoms of ingestion include constant pain and discomfort in the stomach. Dyspepsia (chronic indigestion) can be relieved when ginger is taken.
A study review in 2018 indicates that enzymes in ginger help break up and release gas from the intestinal tract providing relief from such discomfort. Ginger speeds up the emptying of the stomach by increasing food movement through the digestive tract, relieving cases of constipation. It is advisable for people with dyspepsia to eat ginger before eating as it would reduce gas and improve digestion.
Some other health benefits of ginger
- Lowering cholesterol levels
- Protect against Alzheimer’s disease
- Improves brain function
Now we have seen the 10 proven benefits of ginger, it is important to include ginger in your diet. It is easy to introduce ginger into your diet through what you eat and drink. While some people may be dissatisfied with the taste of ginger, the recipes below will make you forget you are ingesting ginger.
- Cooking chicken with ginger
- Adding ginger to Stew
- A garlic-ginger chicken with cilantro and mint recipe
- Fresh ginger tea
- Ginger root tea and honey
Research has indicated over 10 proven health benefits of ginger including pain relief, effectiveness against nausea, and reduced inflammation among other health benefits. There may be risks associated with using ginger ger as a supplement or medicine as it contains plenty of compounds that are yet to be investigated. These compounds may cause complications or interact with current medication. There is a need for more studies as most studies on ginger were inconclusive or small.
Ginger has a lot of nutrients and bioactive compounds that provide the body and brain with a lot of health benefits that have powerful benefits for your body and brain. It is a good source of antioxidants, but may not provide minerals, vitamins, and source of low calories. It is important to seek medical advice before increasing your intake of ginger, especially for nursing and pregnant mothers. Researchers work with high doses therefore seek medical advice before increasing ginger intake. RDA (Recommended daily amount) is 250mg to 1g intake 1 to 4 times daily.