Spice Up Your Diet and Health With Ginger – by Robert Ball, BA
Originating from China, this flowering plant contains many essential nutrients for your body and mind. The portion of the plant that is harvested for consumption is called the rhizome, or “root stalk”. Many people are familiar with using ginger in their favorite recipes, but the health benefits suggest that it should be taken as a way to control nausea, aid in digestion, and lower inflammation of joints and muscles. Close relatives of ginger include turmeric and cardomom.
The primary bioactive compound in ginger is called gingerol. This substance is responsible for the medicinal properties of ginger and is similar to piperine. (For more on piperine, read our article here on turmeric.) When ginger is used in cooking, heat transforms the gingerol into zingerone. This reaction is what provides the spicy-sweet taste found in many dishes.
Help For Stomach Sickness
The most well-known advantage of ginger is its ability to ease stomach nausea. When introduced into the body, it relaxes the gastrointestinal tract. Biochemical pathways are altered in the same way they are when taking ibuprofen or aspirin. The brain reacts in conjunction with the digestive system and therefore receives the signal that things are ‘OK’ in the gut. Pregnant women and those receiving chemotherapy find ginger to be a great non-prescription cure for stomach issues.
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Ginger Improves Stomach Function
Nine different substances found in ginger have been found to stimulate serotonin sensors in the gut. This is good news for people that suffer from indigestion and other gut ailments. In addition to relaxing the intestinal tract, ginger is classified as a carminative, which means it has the ability to reduce internal gases. It has also been shown to stimulate bile production much as turmeric does. All of these features add up to the inducement of gut motility, which is the contraction of the intestines when mixing and propelling material through the system. Good motility equals an efficient and pain-free GI tract.
Joint and Muscle Relief
Gingerol is the driving force behind ginger’s anti-inflammatory features. It is capable of inhibiting the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes that are responsible for the pain of inflammation. A regimen of ginger has been shown to be effective in treating pain related to osteoarthritis and joint discomfort also. Its positive effects on these areas are not immediate. They are noticeable after ginger has been taken over a period of time. However, when topically applied, it has been known to relieve stiff muscles and even headaches.
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Traci Baxendale Ball, LMSW, CAADC is the founder of Vibrant Health Company LLC
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