Many of us grew up being force-fed, or to put it kindly, spoon-fed, when Mom was trying to heal us from a cold or fever or upset stomach or indeterminate pain somewhere that needed her attention in order for the whimpering to stop. In those days, the worst a remedy tasted, the more effective it was in treating the illness or infirmity. That didn't make it any easier going down the hatch. Then came ginger. No one's arm needs to be twisted to partake of a healthy dose of ginger, that swell-tasting spice that packs a broad nutritional wallop. Don't take our word for it: ginger has been around for centuries, for thousands of years in fact, as a favorite tonic used in ancient and traditional medical practices to deal with an assortment of maladies.
What Is Ginger and What Can It Do?In quick overview, ginger is best known for its ability to relieve nausea and pain, and it can also enhance the health of our bones, bolster the immune system, and restore or increase our appetite. Think back to when you were a kid and dealing with the horrors of nausea, and upset stomach, and vomiting – if your mom (or, yes, dad) was like mine, looking to get some fluids into us while quelling the volcano erupting in our stomach, they gave us ginger ale (soda pop with apparent healing properties). Per organicfacts.net, ginger is a flowering plant that originated in China, per healthline.com, formally known as Zingiber officinale, its root (or rhizome ) used as a spice that can be ingested in a variety of forms to include fresh or powdered and even as an oil or juice. Most of ginger's health benefits emanate from an active constituent known as gingerol, although ginger's nutritional value is also seen in the presence of a variety of nutrients in the forms of vitamins and minerals.
Ginger's Nutritional SupportPer medicalnewstoday.com, here's a nutritional breakdown of ginger. Numbers are based on 100 grams of fresh ginger root:
- Carbohydrates, 17.86 grams.
- Dietary fiber, 3.6 grams.
- Protein, 3.57 grams.
- Sodium, 14 milligrams.
- Iron, 1.15 grams.
- Vitamin C, 7.7 milligrams.
- Potassium, 33 milligrams.
- Other nutrients found in ginger in smaller amounts – vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, folate, riboflavin, and niacin.
Ginger's Health BenefitsLet's expound some on what ginger and its various nutrients (shown above) can do for us in terms of health benefits:
- Relieve nausea. This can apply to a number of causes of nausea and vomiting, to include stomach bug, motion sickness, morning sickness, seasickness, post-surgical patients, migraine sufferers, and even those being treated with chemotherapy. Chewing raw ginger or drinking ginger tea seems the best intake route to go, as ginger's absorption properties seem to have a role in quelling a rotten stomach.
- Reduce aches and pain. Ginger has been found to alleviate the severe pain women feel during a menstrual cycle – dysmenorrhea. Also, per medicalnewstoday.com, a University of Georgia study found that daily intake of ginger can cut down muscle pain brought on by exercise by 25 percent. It can also reduce arthritis-related pain.
- Prevent infections. This is one area in which gingerol shines, thwarting bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Take our oral health, for instance. The gingerol of ginger sustains the health of our teeth, mouth, and gums by destroying pathogens while keeping everything else intact. Ginger's other antibacterial attributes include fighting off pathogens that can be the source of urinary tract infection, bronchitis, and pneumonia, per organicfacts.net.
- Aid cardiovascular function. Thanks to its being a source of chromium, magnesium, and zinc, ginger, per lifehack.org, can assist in the proper flow of blood throughout the body. Along with that, it has been shown to be helpful in reducing LDL ( bad ) cholesterol, reducing the risk of blood clots, and contributing to healthy blood-sugar levels. Also, ginger extracts used in Thai therapeutic recipes have been found to be more effective against high blood pressure than extracts from any other tested herb.
- Alleviate respiratory issues. Got a nagging cough? Use ginger. Per lifehack.org (no pun intended), it works to help expand the lungs and loosen phlegm as a natural expectorant that can break down mucus and send it on its merry way. Ginger can also relieve the breathing issues associated with asthma, thanks to the working of zerumbone, another of ginger's active compounds.
- Assist in digestion. Ginger comes in handy after a big meal that has raised sugar levels, and it does this by helping to quickly normalize those sugar levels and, in so doing, soothe the stomach so as to return to its regular rhythm. Additionally, a number of compounds in ginger can bolster our digestive system's absorption of nutrients and minerals as we ingest them at mealtime.
- Protection from UV rays. Research, per globalhealingcenter.com, has indicated that ginger has the ability to absorb UVB (ultraviolet-B) light and thus protect our bodies from damage to our DNA.
- Improve cognition. By reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, ginger can presumably slow the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and dementia – to include Alzheimer's disease, per organicfacts.net.