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Eating With Purpose --- Ginger

Ginger is a spice that comes from the fresh or dried root of the ginger plant which belongs to Zingiberaceae.

This plant type belongs to same family as turmeric and cardamom. It’s been produced and used in Southeast Asia for 5000 yrs.

Ginger is full of antioxidant properties and is loaded with nutrients and bioactive compounds. Ginger root has very high level of antioxidants (3.85mmol/10g) surpassed only by pomegranate and some types of berries.

Ginger has medicinal properties which help in reliving stomach aches, diarrhea and nausea. It is also been used to fight flu and common cold.

Ginger contains 14 different bioactive compounds. Gingerol is one of them and it is most active. Gingerol gives the ginger its unique fragrance and flavor. Ginger and its metabolites have many effects in the gastrointestinal tract as they appear to accumulate in digestive tract. Studies have suggested that ginger inhibits serotonin receptors and exerts antiemetic effect directly on the gut. Ginger has carminative effects, which helps to break up and expel intestinal gas. Ginger also effectively accelerates gastric emptying. That is why ginger is used in alleviating symptoms of nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy, chemotherapy and some surgical procedures. Ginger also helps to treat sea sickness.

Gingerol with its bioactive properties its effective against oral bacteria and some respiratory viruses. It has shown to help in inflammatory diseases of gum like gingivitis and periodontitis.

Ginger root also has anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers believe that ginger has ability to inhibit prostaglandins, leukotrienes and proinflammatory cytokines. Ginger reduces their levels and helps to decrease inflammation. Ginger oil is used to reduce inflammation in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Ginger also has been well studied for its anticancer properties. Studies suggest that ginger compounds suppress proliferation of human cancer cells through the induction of apoptosis. Apoptosis is a genetically directed process of cell self destruction. Ginger helps to promote apoptosis of cancer cells.

Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease and accelerated aging. This can also be linked to age related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Some animal studies have shown that ginger can inhibit inflammatory response. It also enhances brain function.

Ginger has so many benefits. It is a real super food. It can be incorporated in the diet in many ways. I drink warm water with lemon, grated ginger and honey every morning. This concoction is an immune booster and reduces inflammation. You can also add ginger to juices and smoothies. After a long day ginger treat is very soothing. Pickled ginger goes well with salads and sushi. The delicious noodle dishes and stir fry taste amazing with ginger. So try to incorporate this superfood in your diet.

Ginger can be a delicious way to add flavor in a healthy diet plan. I recommend use in moderation. If you want to start taking ginger supplement then consult a healthcare provider.

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