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Ginger: a magic herb with many benefits

Description: Ginger is easily one of the most used food spices in the world. However, many people use this powerful herb without recognizing its many benefits. Continue reading to learn all there is to know about how the benefits of ginger

If I asked you to list all you ate over the past week and to list all the ingredients used in making those foods, somewhere along the line, you’d list ginger. or a fact, ginger is one of the most used spices in the world. You find it in virtually every food, and today, many beverages too, including ginger tea.

However, while many, including yourself, may know what ginger is, not many know what it actually does in the body. In this piece, I will be revealing all of that. So the next time you add some fresh ginger to your meals or drink some ginger tea, you’ll know what you’re actually getting.

natural ginger root

What is Ginger?

Ginger, scientifically known as Zingiber officinale, is a flowering plant native to Asia but is now widely spread worldwide. Ginger belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes turmeric, cardamom, and galangal.

Ginger is widely regarded as the king of spices, as it is widely used worldwide. The ginger root, also known as the rhizome, is the part of interest responsible for its spicy and medicinal properties. Harvested ginger may be eaten fresh or dried and ground into powders. The fresh root may also be used to make teas, oils, tinctures, or capsules marketed for their health benefits. Beyond the health benefits, ginger is also employed in manufacturing cosmetics.

Ginger is rich in various nutrients and is often considered a superfood. Ginger has been used in traditional practice for thousands of years for its medicinal benefits. There are records from various ancient civilizations, including China, Persia, and Rome, describing ginger as used for medicinal purposes. Till today, this herb features prominently in a traditional medicine cabinet.

Ginger root is commonly employed in treating problems with the digestive system, joint inflammation, muscle pain, nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, menstrual pain, cough, sore throat, skin burns, etc. Ginger is famed for its anti-inflammatory properties and is often prescribed as a potent weight loss remedy.

ginger root nutrient benefits

Which Nutrients are Contained in Ginger?

Ginger is a potent source of several essential vitamins and minerals. Per scientific research, a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger contains the following food nutrients;

  • 4.8 calories
  • 1 g of carbohydrate
  • 0.12 g of dietary fiber
  • 0.11 g of protein
  • 0.05 g fat; and
  • 0.1 g of sugar

Minerals and vitamins found in abundance in fresh ginger include;

  • Vitamin B3, B6, and B9
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

Ginger also contains trace to moderate amounts of iron, phosphorus, and zinc.

Ginger contains over one hundred bioactive compounds that contribute to ginger’s medicinal properties. Many of these bioactive compounds are phenolic compounds, namely gingerols, shogaols, and zingerones. Gingerols are found in high concentrations in fresh ginger, while dried ginger has a high content of shogaols. Cooking raw ginger reduces the content of gingerols while increasing zingerone content.

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Medicinal Properties and Uses of Ginger

Ginger contains many bioactive compounds that confer many medicinal properties. Some of these properties include;

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties: Zingerones and gingerols contained in ginger are known anti-inflammatory compounds. Ginger also contains several other bioactive compounds that reduce inflammation by acting via the COX pathway (the same pathway as drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen). As such, ginger is commonly used to treat various inflammatory conditions, including arthritis, joint aches, muscle pain, migraines, etc. Ginger is also effective in ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory condition affecting the digestive tract
  2. Antioxidant properties: The bioactive contained in ginger can combat free radicals produced in response to biological processes. Thus, ginger is commonly used as an antioxidant to keep cells functioning properly and keep the body free from various chronic ailments, including Alzheimer’s dementia, hypertension, etc.
  3. Anti-emetic properties: Ginger is found to be more potent than placebo and even some commercial antihistamines in treating pregnancy-induced morning sickness and motion sickness. the bioactive compounds of ginger have anticholinergic and antiserotonergic properties that stimulate gastric emptying and significantly curtail the urge to throw up
  4. Immune system boosting properties: Via its antioxidant properties, ginger can prevent overload and damage to immune cells, thus helping to boost the immune system
  5. Antibacterial properties: Scientific studies have documented the potency of ginger extract in inhibiting bacterial growth. Ginger’s antibacterial property is thought to influence its use in treating coughs and sore throat caused by bacteria
  6. Anticancer properties: Recent studies have found that ginger is capable of inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Further boosted by its antioxidant properties, ginger is seen to be effective in treating colorectal, breast, pancreatic, oral, and several other forms of cancer
  7. Cardiovascular properties: Ginger has been shown in studies to improve cardiovascular function. Ginger effectively lowers cholesterol levels, which helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Ginger is also known to improve blood flow while reducing heart rate. These properties help to reduce blood pressure and preserve cardiovascular functioning
  8. Antidiabetic properties: Ginger is filled with antioxidants that help in boosting metabolism. In addition, ginger improves circulation to the digesting tract, thus helping to improve digestion. These properties ensure that food transits through the stomach quickly, helping to maintain normal insulin levels. As a result, consuming ginger regularly helps prevent diabetes.
  9. Anti-ulcer properties: Ginger is effective in preventing gastric ulcers induced by H. pylori, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. naproxen, piroxicam, etc.), reserpine, ethanol, stress, and acetic acid
  10. Fat burning properties: Ginger is an effective appetite suppressant and boosts metabolism. These properties are suggested to help in burning belly fat and losing weight. Ginger is often recommended, alongside healthy dieting and exercise, to help with the weight loss process.
  11. Helps with chronic indigestion: Chronic indigestion is characterized by recurrent pain and discomfort in the upper part of the stomach. Chronic indigestion results from delayed gastric emptying. Ginger helps speed up the digestive process, ensuring that food spends less time in the stomach than required.
ginger health benefits

Cosmetic Properties of Ginger

Besides its medicinal properties, ginger also has many cosmetic properties, making it widely used in several cosmetic products. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it a great addition to cosmetics.

Volatile oils extracted from ginger are added to cosmetic products that help to;

  • reduce redness on the skin
  • fade wrinkles and scars
  • keep hair and scalp healthy
  • Reduce skin dryness
  • Reduce the appearance of cellulite
  • Treat bacteria responsible for acne appearance

Ginger Preparations

Ginger is commonly available in several forms for several purposes. Ginger may be obtained fresh from the soil and used in food or extemporaneous medical preparations. The fresh ginger may also be dried and blended into fine powders, which may also be used in spicing up foods or in medicinal preparations.

Medicinal ginger is often prepared as a mixture of spices such as turmeric powder to yield more medicinal properties. Common medicinal preparations of ginger include;

  • Ginger oil: is obtained via distillation of the ginger rhizome and contains concentrated amounts of volatile oils. Ginger oil has a distinct aroma, influencing its use in aromatherapy. Ginger oil contains many of the bioactive compounds responsible for ginger’s medicinal benefits. Thus, its use in arthritis, nausea, and colds. Ginger oil is also applied to the hair and skin for its cosmetic benefits
  • Ginger creams: are made by incorporating dried ground ginger into cream formulations. Ginger creams are typically prepared with a 1-5% concentration of ginger. These formulations are commonly employed for their cosmetic benefits
  • Ginger tea: is one of the most common preparations of ginger. Ginger teas are commonly prepared with other herbs such as chamomille, cloves, or peppermint. Ginger tea is commonly taken for its antioxidant and weight loss properties
  • Ginger capsules/tablets: pack all the essential bioactive compounds in ginger and are commonly taken for their potent antioxidant property. These pills are commonly prescribed to prevent chronic illnesses like heart failure, cancer, dementia, etc.
  • Ginger powder: is a common form of ginger that can be used in different forms. Ginger powder is commonly used to spice up meals but may also be added to tea, puddings, and juice for medicinal benefits. You may use it alone or in combination with other spices like pepper or turmeric,
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Are there any side effects of taking ginger?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration directs that ginger is safe when taken by mouth in small doses. However, ginger can cause certain side effects when taken in excess amounts. These include;

  • heartburn
  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • skin irritation in some people

Ginger may also worsen certain existing health conditions such as bleeding disorders and hypotension. Taking ginger before surgery may also increase the risk of surgical bleeding.

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Ginger and Bodybuilding

Ginger is indeed a wonder food with numerous health benefits. As a bodybuilder or athlete, incorporating ginger into your meals can help improve several aspects of your performance. Thankfully, ginger can be consumed in many forms, and you can easily mix it with your protein powders, protein shakes, etc.

ginger’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects make it valuable in several instances. Ginger has been shown in studies to delay muscle damage during workouts and promote quick post-workout recovery. This accelerated recovery is useful for athletes performing in high-intensity exercises that require them to go quickly after finishing one session.

Ginger oil is also thought to help calm the mind before workouts, helping athletes gain mental clarity and improve their performance. Ginger aids digestion, meaning athletes who regularly consume ginger have a quicker release of energy after eating meals than those who don’t.

If you’re starting a weight loss journey, then ginger tea or other forms should be your go-to. Ginger tea promotes the burning of belly fats and helps boost metabolism, which promotes the loss of fats from different body parts.

ginger immune system

Bottom Line

There is no reason not to love ginger, and there is no reason why it should not be a regular feature in your meals. Here, we’ve covered most of the health benefits of ginger and seen why it is a must-use for you as an athlete or when training to lose weight.

Ginger is available in different forms, allowing you to mix it with other foods and teas. It is an excellent addition to spice up these foods while also conferring many health benefits. So do well to get gingered up today!


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