Ginger is a common cooking ingredient in many cultures, and for good reason. This simple root plant is full of health benefits! There are thousands of types of ginger plants, but the one most commonly eaten variety is garden ginger, Zingiber officinale. Other members of the ginger family include turmeric and cardamom, although neither of these are considered “true gingers.” Garden ginger was first cultivated in South Asia, where it remains popular in both cooking and medicine. Today it is found on every continent in a wide range of dishes, from health drinks and alcohol to curries and noodle dishes. Find out how ginger can improve your health today!
Ginger can prevent motion sickness.
Ginger is commonly found in motion sickness medications, like ginger candies and ginger gum. This is because ginger is very effective in preventing nausea and dizziness associated with motion sickness and seasickness. For many people, ginger works even better than medications like dramamine or motion sickness patches, which often come with side effects like dry mouth and drowsiness. Like other motion sickness medications, ginger should always be taken before getting in the car or on the boat. Ginger is healthy, inexpensive, and tastes good, so why not sip a ginger soda or pop in a piece of ginger gum before getting in the car?
Ginger can aid in digestion.
In addition to reducing nausea, ginger promotes the production of saliva, gastric (stomach) juice, and bile, all of which aid digestion. The root has been used as a treatment for upset stomach and diarrhea for thousands of years in Asia. Many people also use ginger as a treatment for bloating, constipation, and excess gas, although scientific research has yet to prove that ginger actually helps with these issues. However, don’t eat too much of it, as more than 2-4 grams of ginger a day can lead to heartburn, bloating, and ginger-flavored belching. People on blood thinners, such as warfarin, should consult their doctors before eating ginger. Additionally, because ginger promotes bile production, people suffering from gallstones should not eat much ginger.
Ginger can bring pregnant women relief from nausea.
Nausea experienced during pregnancy is commonly referred to as “morning sickness,” despite the fact that it often lasts all day. The most severe form of morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum, can even require hospitalization. Taking ginger can reduce nausea and vomiting attacks in pregnant women, and unlike many other antiemetics, ginger has no adverse side effects and is completely safe for the fetus. While it may not bring total relief of nausea, ginger will significantly reduce the severity and frequency of vomiting attacks. Only a small dose of ginger is needed, such as a single cup of ginger tea or a ginger candy.
Ginger boosts the immune system.
If you’re worried about catching the latest illness making the rounds, then forget about drinking those nasty packets of fizzy vitamin C and make yourself a hot cup of ginger tea. Ginger can improve the body’s non-specific host defenses, which means that you’re less likely to get sick when a new and foreign bacteria or virus enters your body. Ginger may also promote ‘healthy sweating,’ which helps your body to secrete a sweat compound that fights bad bacteria and can prevent skin infections.
Ginger can reduce inflammation.
Ginger gets its distinctive flavor and taste from phytonutrients called “gingerols.” Gingerols have several health benefits, including inflammation reduction. While the exact mechanism of this anti-inflammatory action is still under investigation, several studies have found a strong correlation between ginger and inflammation reduction. People with arthritis, for example, can benefit from taking ginger supplements or eating more fresh ginger in their diets. Those suffering from muscle discomfort, such as muscular back pain, can also find relief in ginger. Unlike anti-inflammatory pills, whose overuse can cause ulcers and other problems, ginger has no negative side effects on the body when taken in reasonable doses.
Ginger may help fight cancer.
Gingerols may also help protect the body against cancer. Scientific studies are being conducted to study the effects of gingerols on certain cancer cells, and the results so far are promising. Research suggests that ginger may inhibit the growth of colorectal and prostate cancers, and may help reduce or fight ovarian cancer. For those already being treated for cancer, ginger may also reduce nausea after chemotherapy treatment.
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