Ginger, a flowering plant that originated in China, is part of the zingiberaceae botanical family and is closely related to cardamom and turmeric. The ginger root (or rhizome) has a long history of use in Indian, Asian and Arabic herbal traditions, as well as being a popular culinary spice. Read on to discover more of this root’s fierce and fiery properties with our Top 5 Health Benefits of Ginger!
1. Soothes the digestive system
Ginger is great for maintaining a healthy digestive system. It helps the digestive tract by stimulating food particle breakdown, therefore assisting the transport of food out of the intestines. The phenolic compounds in ginger can also reduce bloating and intestinal cramps, by relaxing the muscles of the digestive passage thus helping food pass through more easily.
2. Reduces inflammation
Ginger can relieve pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It contains a compound called gingerol – some studies have found that this is even more effective at relieving pain than painkillers! Gingerol acts on receptors located at sensory nerve endings, helping to relieve inflammation at these points. There have been various studies in which people suffering from conditions (ranging from migraines, to muscle soreness and osteoporosis) have noticed a reduction in pain after taking a ginger supplement.
3. Anti-cancer properties
Ginger has been found to have protective benefits against the development of cancer – in particular, its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce the levels of colon and intestine inflammation, therefore reducing the risk of colon cancer. The compounds shogaol and gingerol suppress the activity of cancer cells, whilst other compounds in ginger disrupt the development of cancer cell structures and inhibit their growth.
4. Relieves nausea
If you’re ever feeling queasy, ginger can help to calm your stomach. The phenols present in ginger relax stomach muscles, promote the secretion of digestive juices that aid the neutralization of stomach acid, therefore calming an upset stomach and relieve vomiting.
5. Maintains brain health
Antioxidant and bioactive compounds in ginger have been found to prevent inflammatory responses that occur in the brain, and several studies have shown that ginger can inhibit age-related decline (ie. Alzheimer’s disease). For example, when middle-aged adults were given ginger supplements, they showed an improvement in working memory and attention. Ginger is also great at protecting the brain from free radical damage. Overproduction of free radicals (unattached oxygen molecules) can be caused by a number of factors attributed to modern life, such as lack of sleep and stress. Antioxidants present in ginger protect the brain from cell mutation and inflammation that can be caused by this free radical damage.
So from tummy soothing effects to pain relief, ginger comes with an array of great benefits. Try grating it into stir-fries, curries and soups for a zingy kick, or adding to hot water with some lemon for a spicy jumpstart to a cold morning!