Ginger is a powerful herb (though some may call it a spice) that’s widely used in cooking and also as a folk medicine to relieve nausea and bloating for thousands of years. It’s incredibly flavourful, healthy, and inexpensive – definitely one of my pantry staples! Here’re some of the many benefits of consuming ginger as it relates to gut health:
Improves Digestion & Reduces Bloating
Ginger reduces bloating and gas as it stimulates the secretion of digestive acids, supporting the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Ginger also helps stimulate the secretion of bile which is crucial in digesting fatsand absorbing fat-soluble nutrients. It also contains a considerable amount of prebiotics which stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics).
Fights Gut Infections
Ginger has also been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal activities (particularly against Candida albicans), thanks to its potent plant compounds gingerols and zingerone.
Some animal studies demonstrate that ginger may inhibit H.pylori stomach infections and therefore reduces gastrointestinal cancers such as stomach and gastric ulcers.
Ginger root contains a very high level (3.85 mmol/100 g) of total antioxidants, surpassed only by pomegranate and some types of berries. The functional components in ginger such as gingerols, shogaol, and paradols are valuable ingredients which can fight inflammations and prevent certain cancer.
Ginger is used as a folk medicine to relieve nausea, caused by morning sickness, motion sickness and chemotherapy or surgery, for example. Although it’s uncertain exactly how ginger reduces nausea, some scientists think that it works by keeping our digestive function stable and blood pressure consistent.
Lowers Blood Glucose
Some research have shown that ginger can modulate insulin release which is crucial for maintaining blood glucose level.
Dried & Ground Ginger vs. Fresh Ginger Root, which is better?
Is fresh always better than dried? Not always! Although the nutrient profile of ginger undergoes some changes during the drying and bottling process, ground ginger isn’t necessarily worse than fresh ginger in terms of its health benefits. During the drying process, even though the level of gingerol decreases, the level of other beneficial components like shogaol increases (which is said to be even more potent than gingerol).
How to Use Ginger
Cooking & baking: I prefer using grated fresh ginger in savoury dishes (use in stir fry or salad dressing) and dried ground ginger in sweet baked goods like pumpkin pie and muffins. Check out my recipes:
- Miso Sesame Ginger Shrimp Bowl
- Crispy Tofu with Wasabi Ginger Dressing
- Turmeric Ginger Coconut Latte (“Golden Mylk”)
- Spicy Thai Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wrap
- Coconut Pumpkin Pie Shortbread Bars
- Almond Flour Pumpkin Muffins
Fermented drinks: I also like putting a few slices of fresh ginger or some candied ginger when making kombucha and water kefir at the second fermentation. It helps the fermented drink create lots of bubbles. Apparently, the bacteria and yeast culture (SCOBY) really likes ginger (proof that it’s an incredible prebiotic)! Check out my previous post on water kefir.
Ginger Lemon Honey Tea: simply infuse a few slices of ginger in a cup of boiled water, add a slice of lemon and a small spoonful of honey. So soothing especially in this cold weather!
For a quick bloating & gas relief, simply chew a piece of fresh ginger after a meal for a few minutes.
The last tip is not food related, but I’ve also used a knob of ginger root to massage the scalp and found it helps promote healthy hair growth (#Bad Haircut Remedy)!
Here’s a helpful short video that breaks down the health benefits of ginger.