Healing Herbs and their Benefits – Ginger Root

As of late, I’ve been trying to incorporate more herbs into my routine whenever I can for their many healing properties.  A recent favorite : Ginger. It has been toted as a cure-all by the ancient Chinese and Indians for many common ailments.  As a Registered Dietitian, I only practice evidence based research – that means that I evaluate every claim with peer-reviewed journals and I do not follow fads or claims without adequate evidence to back them up. Best believe, if I write about it, I have the science to back it up. Very important! Not a problem, because there is so much evidence to support the health benefits of ginger.

Here are 5 reasons to incorporate ginger into your diet:

1.  It’s an antioxidant.

By definition, an antioxidant is a substance that prevents oxidation. Why is this important? When the body is under stress, it produces free radicals – these radicals damage DNA, which can cause many chronic diseases. Ginger helps neutralize these radicals, preventing damage to the body.

2. It may help prevent cancer

Certain studies have shown that ginger produces several enzymes which have cancer-fighting effects  – effectiveness of the prevention and suppression of the cancer genes has been studied in a variety of cancer types, including lymphoma, breast, liver and skin cancer.  The exact “how” of this mechanism of prevention is not yet fully known, but can be partially attributed to the antioxidant activity. In addition, ginger is thought to disrupt the process by which cancer cells multiply.

3. It can help control diabetes

Studies have indicated that consumption can help control blood glucose levels, which is crucial for managing diabetes.

4. It’s an anti-inflammatory product

It reduces inflammation in the body. Because inflammation is linked to the development of several diseases such as cancer, arthritis, Crohn’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, ginger can help serve as a preventative measure against diseases caused by inflammation. By acting as an anti-inflammatory, ginger is also helpful for reducing muscle pain and swelling after a vigorous workout. The jury is still out on whether the anti inflammatory effects can help with arthritis, however.

5. It acts as an anti-nausea agent

This is the most well-known benefit of ginger – If you haven’t heard anything else about ginger, you have likely heard that it alleviates symptoms of nausea and vomiting – doing so, by breaking up and expelling gas. It also relieves nausea related to pregnancy and chemotherapy, as well as motion sickness.

Incorporating ginger into your diet:
Ginger is easy to incorporate into your diet. The most common way to consume is by making a nice cup of ginger tea. Buy whole ginger root (can be found at most grocery stores), cut a few strips, finely chip and boil it for 10 minutes. If you like, you can add a lemon slice for flavor. If you are feeling sore after a run, grate 4 tablespoons of ginger, seal in a cotton bag, and run under hot bath water. If you are feeling nauseous, you can chew on a piece of crystallized ginger, or utilize the ginger tea concept. Ginger can also be incorporated into juices and other recipes ( see my post incorporating Ginger into a juice blend! Herbal Immunity Boosting Juice )

Do you have a favorite way to incorporate Ginger into your diet? Tell us in the comments.



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