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Ginger – The Unbiased Scientific Truth

General Health

Ginger – The Unbiased Scientific Truth

Ginger – The Unbiased Scientific Truth

In This Article
  • Overview
  • Health Benefits
  • Nausea and Morning Sickness
  • Digestion
  • Diabetes Management
  • Weight Control
  • Pain Relief
  • FAQ’s
  • Safety and Side Effects

Ginger Overview

If you are somebody that eats Indian or Asian cuisine, you likely enjoy the aromatic flavor of ginger. It originates from Southeast Asia and is botanically a root. A member of a plant family that includes cardamom and turmeric.

It is typically grated, chopped or minced and added to various dishes. It is available in multiple forms including fresh, ginger paste and ginger powder.

It adds a sweet, somewhat spicy, peppery flavor and is frequently used in stir-fries, marinades, and sauces. It’s becoming a more mainstream ingredient, and for good reason.

It has been utilized for centuries in all sorts of cuisine. Some of its notable health benefits include decreasing gastrointestinal distress, relieving morning sickness and relieving nausea.

In addition, it may have anti-inflammatory properties, making it an adjunct, alternative compound to use for pain management. New research has even more exciting health benefits

Health Benefits

1. Nausea and Morning Sickness

Ginger in the form of ginger tea, candied ginger or ginger lozenges and lollipops have been suggested for pregnant women over the years as a means to assist with morning sickness.

Research suggests that it impacts neural receptors that trigger vomiting, which may help to reduce nausea.

Three compounds found in ginger that may boost its potent anti-nausea effect include 6-shogaol, 6-gingerol, and zingerone.

Scientists believe these elements inhibit serotonin 5-HT concentration- a receptor found in the gastrointestinal system that stimulates vagal nerve activity and induces nausea and vomiting.

It has been found to have therapeutic benefits to those undergoing chemotherapy that experience common side effects such as nausea and vomiting

2. Digestion

It is known to help in a variety of ways in the digestion of foods. For example, it helps with the production of saliva which starts the breakdown of carbohydrates in the mouth through the salivary amylase enzyme.

It has also been found to increase the production of trypsin, which helps protein digestion and pancreatic lipase, which helps digest fat.

In addition, it may stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, which helps to move food along the small and large intestine to prevent gas, bloating, and constipation.

Individuals suffering IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) that often experience flatulence and bloating, may find some relief with ginger.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestine that is difficult to manage and has a lifelong effect on the suffering individuals. A new 12-week randomized control test using ginger is also being tested in patients with ulcerative colitis

3. Diabetes Management

As the rate of diagnosis of diabetes increases globally, it’s important to find ways to improve blood sugar and reduce organ damage. Individuals with diabetes often suffer comorbid conditions related to oxidative stress (tissue damage) such as cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.

Researchers discovered a protective effect of the ginger in a recent study on diabetic rats. Various doses of ginger extract were given to rats which had decreased blood sugar, enhanced kidney function and decreased hyperlipidemia.

Another study found that steamed ginger may have therapeutic effects on blood sugar. Researchers used steamed ginger extract and evaluated the pancreatic islet cells (the cells which secrete insulin) in mice.

The active components in ginger (gingerols, shogaols, and paradols) when steamed (known as GGO3) lower hyperglycemia in mice and was considered a safe functional food.  Trials in humans are advised to further the investigation

4. Weight Control

It has also been involved in weight control, but more work is required. A systematic review of 27 publications (17 animals, 6 in vitro, and 4 human studies) evaluated the active compounds in ginger.

The majority of studies found changes in weight in animal studies, but those in humans showed no changes or slight changes in weight and anthropometric measures in obese human subjects.

Scientists believe it may be beneficial in weight management through a few mechanisms. It increases thermogenesis, increases fat breakdown, inhibits fat absorption in the intestine, limits lipogenesis and helps with appetite control.

A more recent study review by Brazilian researchers evaluated the effects of ginger and avocado on weight management.

Their study indicated that in the anti-inflammatory systems of different tissues, ginger and avocado have anti-inflammatory effects which stimulate enzymatic activity and modify obesity-related dysfunctions without side effect.

In addition, compounds in ginger and avocado were found to reduce the negative effects of obesity on serum lipids

5. Pain Relief

Delicious news for those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the chronic, autoimmune form of arthritis that impacts children as well as adults.

In a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical control trial, 70 subjects with RA were randomized to receive a placebo or 1500 mg ginger powder for 12 weeks. Measures of immunity and inflammation were measured in each group.

After the intervention, a reduction in disease activity score was statistically significant in the ginger group.

It has also been found to have therapeutic value in reducing menstrual pain. The anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger may also offer some pain relief in dental patients.

In a small study of 60 subjects comparing it to Ibuprofen and placebo in patients undergoing molar extraction with post-surgical pain, scientists compared inflammatory measures like C-reactive protein, cheek swelling and the ability to score pain in the mouth.

Measures for cheek swelling and reduction in mouth opening ability were similar in all three groups in the first five days.

No significant difference was observed between pain scores in the Ibuprofen and ginger groups, but ‘rescue medication’ was necessary on a surgical day in the placebo group.

Researchers concluded that it was as effective as Ibuprofen for pain reduction in post-op dental patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can ginger burn belly fat?

A: A recent meta-analysis of 14 randomized control trials of 473 subjects found that supplementary ginger has a positive effect on body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, hip ratio, fasting blood sugar and index insulin resistance. It also raises cholesterol HDL (‘healthy’)

As mentioned above, ginger may help with appetite control and thermogenesis (increased heat production in the body), which could help with fat loss.

Q: Can ginger be consumed daily?

A: Yes! Ginger prepared from ginger root, ginger paste, ginger powder or ginger tea can be included as part of a healthy diet.

As mentioned above, supplemental ginger should not be taken in doses above the suggested amount as they may impact cardiac and nervous system function and increase the risk for heartburn.

Q: Who should not take ginger?

A: Ginger could reduce nausea and vomiting in some pregnant women. But pregnant women should be careful with ginger it may cause miscarriage.

Safety and Side Effects

Studies have indicated it is safe to use for those suffering from OA (osteoarthritis) as well as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, use for pregnant women with morning sickness and nausea and vomiting seems healthy. No adverse side effects have been observed in pregnant women, such as spontaneous abortion or birth defects. Many people do experience heartburn and stomach upset with ginger though.

As there are several preparations of ginger including fresh ginger, ginger powder, ginger tea, and candied ginger, it can be enjoyed in several ways.

However, high doses of ginger supplements should be avoided due to the risk of cardiac arrhythmias, depression of the central nervous system and heartburn. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and should always be used with caution. Check with your doctor or pharmacist prior to use.

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