Ginger is one of the healthiest (and most delicious) spices in the world. It’s chock full of nutrients, as well as bioactive compounds. These elements have huge benefits for your body, as well as your brain. Here at Superior Switchel, we include ginger as a delicious ingredient in our beverages – but we also include it for its superior health benefits.
What Is Ginger?
Ginger – in its purest form – is a flowering plant. Originally found in China, it is part of the Zingiberaceae family. If you love healthy spices and herbs, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s closely related to turmeric, galangal and cardamom. The underground part of the stem (technically known as the rhizome) is the actual piece of the plant that is used to make the spice. For ease of use, it’s usually just referred to as ‘ginger root’, or simply ‘ginger’.
Ginger has a very lengthy use, throughout history. It has been used in multiple forms, in both alternative and traditional medicine. The most common uses of ginger include using it as an aid to ease digestion, as a tool to reduce nausea, and even as a remedy to help with both the flu and the common cold. Of course, it also has many uses beyond this. Ginger can be used in the fresh form, in powdered form, or dried. Sometimes it is also used as an oil or juice. Lately, it has even seen use in cosmetics, as well as in processed foods. If you are a home chef, you likely already know that ginger is also a very common ingredient in recipes.
The unique flavor profile and smells of ginger, is due to the content of its natural oils. Scientifically, the most crucial of these is gingerol. This is because gingerol is the most important bioactive compound found within ginger. The ‘main bioactive compound’ can be more simply thought of as the ‘active ingredient’. Gingerol is thus responsible for much of ginger’s medicinal and healing properties. Gingerol has very strong anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties and effects on the human body.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Ginger?
There are a long list of benefits, related directly to the consumption of ginger. For starters, ginger is very effective against nausea and the feeling of illness (or vomiting). If you were a sea captain in older times, you likely knew ginger as a remedy to avoid feeling seasick. There is also some evidence in the scientific community, that it could be equally as helpful as the commonly prescribed prescription medications, which are typically used to treat illness at sea. There are also some scientific studies that show ginger may be helpful in cancer patients currently undergoing chemotherapy, as well as helping to aid in recovery after surgeries.
If you have ever been pregnant – you likely know that ginger is well-known as a very effective way to relieve morning sickness. Since this is simply another form of nausea, this information is not shocking. If you are looking to try this method yourself, the amount of ginger required is roughly 1.3 grams of ginger. As with any new supplement, be sure to speak with your doctor, before you begin taking supplements on a regular basis (this is especially true if you are pregnant).
Other uses for ginger are myriad. If you are an athlete or frequent exerciser, ginger can help combat with the regular aches and pains endured from heavy lifting or cardio. In these studies, a slightly higher dose of ginger (2 grams), saw the biggest benefits. Like many anti-inflammatories, ginger does not immediately show incredible results, but rather builds up and lessens pain over time. This slight delay is due to the mechanism by which ginger works, inside the body.
Ginger is also helpful for those with painful joint issues. One of the most common issues, is osteoarthritis. Ginger has been used in scientific trials, to help relieve the pain and heavy medication, involved with the degeneration of joints within the body. Pairing ginger with other natural herbs and bioactive compounds, further improved the results of those suffering from painful joint issues.
Can Ginger Be Used As Medicine?
Using ginger as a medicine is slightly controversial, only because the research is fairly new. Diabetes is one of the biggest areas where ginger may be beneficial, though. Some scientific studies have shown that around 2 grams of ginger per day, helped to lower blood sugar. A1c (one of the biggest indicators of long term blood sugar stability), was also improved. In addition to this, the ratio of ApoB and ApoA was improved. These results are in areas that greatly put the population at risk for heart disease, as well – so the improvements are fairly significant.
Another area where ginger may be beneficial, is in the area of digestion. Or – more accurately – in the area of helping to correct poor digestion. Oftentimes, the delayed emptying of the contents of the stomach are one of the biggest issues when it comes to chronic indigestion. Ginger has helped these factors, shown in studies to show positive benefits of up to 50%, when consuming around 1 gram of ginger.
There has been lots of other scientific research related to ginger, as well. For example, it may help lower the risk of clots in your blood, reduce cholesterol, and be potent in helping to improve inflammatory conditions. Even heart disease and diabetes may be helped by regular ginger ingestion. There are other specific elements in ginger, which will aid in improving your health, as well. These include salicylate, curcumin (the main ingredient in turmeric), beta-carotene, capsaicin, and caffeic acid.
How To Use Ginger In Recipes
The great thing about ginger is that it works great in nearly any type of recipe. You can pair it with pumpkin, rhubarb, apples, oranges, melons, chicken, pork, seafood, soups, stews, smoothies, and more. If buying it fresh, you should look for smoothness, as well as a strong, spicy aroma.
One of the warmest (and most delicious ways!) to ingest healthy amounts of ginger, is to make your own tea. If you are going to do this, take 30 grams of ginger, and steep it. We also like to add honey, lemon, or other beneficial foods. These small additions will not only enhance the flavor, they will provide antibacterial benefits, as well as vitamins – making this also a perfect tea to make for anyone with the flu or a cold. Since tea sometimes makes you sweat, as well – it’s great for helping to get rid of toxins, and other bad bacteria from your body.
Why Do We Include Ginger In Superior Switchel?
At the end of the day, ginger is one of the most delicious and healthiest spices on the planet. Ginger is truly one of the very few “superfoods” – that actually fits the bill. You can buy fresh and powdered ginger at many physical stores, but if you buy it online, you can get concentrated ginger, as a supplement. This is the best way to use it, to get the most potent effects. And of course, you can find ginger in Superior Switchel – which we recommend you try drinking warmed up, just as you would an herbal ginger tea.
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