Ginger is a flowering plant that originated from China. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family and is closely related to turmeric, cardamom and galangal. It is among the healthiest and most delicious spices on the planet. It is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds that have powerful benefits for your body and brain.
The name Ginger is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning horn or antler, referring to the shape of the rhizome (underground part of the stem), which creeps along horizontally underground. The lance-shaped leaves are about 30cm long and the flowers are pale yellow with a purple lip and an aromatic smell.
Ginger is popular in many South East Asian cuisines and widely used in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
It adds a hot and lemony flavour to food and has a major role to play in traditional healing. Its distinctive aroma and taste comes from its pungent yellow oil. It is closely related to turmeric. This perennial is native to parts of India, China and other tropical areas.
Benefits of Ginger
- Contains Gingerol.
This is a substance with powerful medicinal properties including powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties.
Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few.
Ginger extract can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria. It is very effective against the oral bacteria linked to inflammatory diseases in the gums, such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Fresh ginger may also be effective against the RSV virus, a common cause of respiratory infections.
Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice, and is sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics. It is a very common ingredient in recipes.
The unique fragrance and flavour of ginger come from its natural oils, the most important of which is gingerol.
- Treats many forms of Nausea, especially Morning and Travel Sickness.
Ginger has a long history of use as a sea sickness remedy. It may also relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
It may also be most effective for treating pregnancy-related nausea such as morning sickness.
Ginger is therefore a great natural alternative to anti-nausea drugs as the latter can affect the central nervous system causing grogginess.
The gentle anti-nausea properties of ginger make it a useful treatment for older people, as well as a generally safe remedy for pregnant women who experience bouts of morning sickness.
- Reduce Muscle Pain and Soreness.
Ginger has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain. It does not have an immediate impact, however, may be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain.
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects to help with Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness. It is a common health problem.
Combining ginger, cinnamon and sesame oil can reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients when applied topically.
- May Drastically Lower Blood Sugars.
Ginger has powerful anti-diabetic properties, especially for patients with type 2 Diabetes.
- Helps with Indigestion.
Chronic indigestion (dyspepsia) is characterised by recurrent pain and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach. It is believed that delayed emptying of the stomach is a major driver of indigestion. Consuming ginger helps speed up this process.
- May significantly reduce menstrual pain.
Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) is the pain felt during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Ginger may be used as a natural pain reliever. As this is a natural solution, it is safer in the longer term compared to taking medical drugs such as ibuprofen or Panadol.
- May Lower “Bad” Cholesterol Levels.
High levels of LDL lipoproteins (the “bad” cholesterol) are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. The food you eat and how they are prepared can have a strong influence on LDL levels.
- May Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is a very serious disease that is characterised by uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Ginger has been used as an alternative treatment for several forms of cancer.
- May Improve Brain function and protect against Alzheimer’s Disease.
Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can accelerate the aging process. These are believed to be amongst the key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline. The antioxidants and bioactive compounds in ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain. Ginger can enhance brain function directly and protect against age-related decline in brain function.
How to consume ginger
Best consumed raw or slightly cooked (add to stir fries, curries, rice and/or pasta) in grated form with the skin. Most Chinese meals have very finely sliced ginger as a side dish to be consumed with the main meal.
Ginger may also be consumed as crystallised sweets, ginger cakes, biscuits or even bread. Do however avoid the commercially made sweets, cakes and biscuits which are very likely to be using highly processed white sugar and white wheat flour.
Ginger can also be drunk as a tea with some raw honey. It makes a great drink in cold weather to help boost circulation.
Gargling ginger tea is also a useful remedy for sore throats. A cup of ginger tea can also relieve the symptoms of a bad cold or flu.
We trust this article has opened your eyes and mind as to the numerous benefits of ginger.
We encourage you to add some ginger to your meals and drinks daily and you will surely reap the health benefits. Remember, the taste may take a little getting used to and may be uncomfortable for a few minutes. However, the benefits to your health will be long lasting and amazing.
We remind you of Hippocrates’ famous quote
“Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
We wish you and your loved ones an Amazing Life.
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