Ginger, honey + warm water is easily one of my favorite drinks to whip up first thing in the morning or even at night after dinner. (Besides bone broth, a turmeric latte or ACV, honey + water of course). I discovered Ginger a few years ago after doing research on natural remedies for sensitive stomachs. I didn't always suffer from indigestion growing up, I more so noticed it when I began eating healthier and paying attention to the food I was putting into my body. At this time, I also did some experimenting with food to figure out what my body was intolerant to and which foods caused my stomach to feel off. For me personally, it's kiwi, soy/soybeans, sesame seeds (anything with Tahini in it) and egg whites (although I can tolerate them if I don't eat them too often). However, I don't think it's JUST those four things. I think there are numerous things that negatively effect my stomach. For example, while eating out I have to be mindful of salad dressings and the different oils restaurants use while cooking their food (unfortunately, a lot of these oils can not only make you feel like crap, but they're not good for your body and overall health). That's another topic we can discuss later :)
So like I was saying, I began doing my research on holistic remedies for stomach aches because I was shifting away junk food and popping Tums like candy (I really did). I was a SUPER picky eater as a child and it still amazes me to this day that I actually began trying new + healthier foods (like vegetables)! Just to put it into perspective for you - I ate my first official salad my Freshmen year of COLLEGE. Since, I was very picky about food, when I initially tried Ginger, I wasn't a huge fan. It had a kick to it that I wasn't used to (obviously). BUT, once I read about all of the health benefits it has to offer, I kept trying it over and over again until guess what? I actually started to like it! That's normally how it goes, in order to actually like certain foods, you have to keep trying them!
Ginger is not simply a natural digestive aid, it has SO MUCH MORE to offer. It's been used all over the world as medicinal herb and as an ingredient in a variety of recipes. Here are some of the other health benefits Ginger has to offer:
1. Anti-inflammatory (like I mentioned in previous #functionalfoodfriday blog posts, inflammation is not only a driving factor behind numerous diseases, but is a HUGE problem in our society. Studies on Ginger have shown that it may inhibit markers of inflammation. This is thanks to the compounds found within it)
2. Eases Aches + Pains (this may seem obvious based on the first benefit listed above, but if you're body or anything in your body is inflamed - it can lead to pain. Therefore, if you start consuming Ginger which will have reduce the inflammation within your body - it can help ease joint + muscle pain AND any of the side effects that come along with your menstrual cycle ladies (cramps, headaches, etc.) It's actually been proven that Ginger is just as effective as taking aspirin or ibuprofen!)
3. Boosts Brain Function (How does Ginger help brain function? You guessed it - thanks to the antioxidant's + anti-inflammatory components it has to offer. Studies on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's have shown that some of the main causes are due to inflammation in the brain and oxidative stress.)
4. Relieves Nausea + Aids in Digestion (This particular health benefit applies to anyone who suffers from indigestion, has a sensitive stomach or even expectant moms who are suffering from morning sickness. Studies have shown that Ginger has been an effective treatment for nausea across the board. This is huge for pregnant women, as most conventional medicines for nausea can harm their growing baby. It's also been shown to have a positive effect on cancer patients suffering from nausea due to their chemotherapy treatment. In regards to digestion, ingesting studies on Ginger have shown that it speeds up the process of emptying the stomach.)
5. Fights Bacterial + Fungal Infections (Ginger naturally has anti-fungal properties that can help kill fungi within your body when consumed. Studies have shown that it actually has the ability to prevent certain strains of bacteria from growing. Another study that compared the anti-fungal effects of 29 plant species showed that Ginger was the most effective at killing fungus.)
6. Aids in Regulating Blood Sugar Levels (One study that focused on the effects of Ginger on fasting blood sugar levels showed that it effectively reduced it by 12%, as well as improving long term blood sugar control.)
7. Can Potentially Prevent the Growth of Cancerous Tumors (Ginger contains an anti-cancerous compound called 6-gingerol. Based on research, this compound may effectively block the growth of certain cancer cells, however more research needs to be done.)
8. Decreases LDL Cholesterol (Cholesterol is essential to our overall health. However, there are different two different types of it LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) and HDL (the "good" cholesterol). *LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein and HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Having high levels of LDL is unhealthy because it can lead to clogged arteries, while having high levels of HDL protects your body and your overall heart health.)
9. Boosts your Immune System (Ginger is a natural diaphoretic, meaning it works to warm the body from within and actually promotes sweating. A nice cup of hot ginger tea during the cold winter months is the perfect way to keep yourself warm and keep colds away. You can purchase Ginger tea from your local grocery store or you can make it at home using chopped fresh ginger!)
10. Is a Nutrient dense herb (Fresh Ginger is jam-packed full of vitamins and minerals. It naturally provides your body with protein, potassium, fiber, iron, and Vitamin C, just to name a few!)
There are SO many ways you can begin incorporating Ginger into your diet. For example, in tea, while cooking, in smoothies and juices, etc. You can also purchase Ginger in different forms - fresh, ground, in capsule form or as an essential oil. Give it a try, see how you feel and let me know if you notice any differences in your health!