Unfortunately, the typical Western diet just isn’t very good. According to Health Day, most Americans eat too many calories nowadays. Around 25 years ago, the typical American consumed around 1,850 calories each day. Today, that figure is closer to 2,150.
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On top of the calorie boost, we’re also consuming too much sodium, sugar and other additives that aren’t great for the human body. Part of this trend comes down to the evolution in food science and the fast pace of our society – we’ll take convenience over what our bodies need, which is a healthy and natural diet.
There’s always resistance to popular trends, and in this case, it has led to something good: more research on natural food benefits thanks to the interest from the general public in improving their diets and health.
One natural food that has stood out for its benefits is ginger, a spicy and sweet ingredient that’s also quite versatile. Keep reading to discover why you need to add ginger to your diet today, particularly if you suffer from pain.
It Can Help With Arthritis
Caused by joint inflammation, arthritis is an unfortunately common ailment. The Arthritis Foundation reports that this condition affects an estimated 53 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States alone.
The inflammation from arthritis causes physical pain and impacts mobility, and its degenerative. Osteoarthritis, this condition’s most common form, is known for getting worse as you age because of the natural tear and wear of your body.
Your body’s inflammatory response is where ginger really shines in its medicinal properties. According to the Arthritis Foundation, ginger has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to that of some prescription arthritis medications and ibuprofen. The spice also is able to suppress inflammatory molecules and “turn off” some inflammatory genes, giving it the potential to work more effectively than some pain relievers.
The Foundation also cited a 2012 study in which a specialized ginger extract was able to reduce inflammatory reactions in some patients with rheumatoid arthritis just as effectively as steroids. In a trial in 2005 that included over 200 patients, a specialized extract eased the pain after walking and standing from osteoarthritis.
It Has A Huge Variety Of Benefits
Aside from its ability to help with inflammation, this spice can also help with a variety of other ailments and has some preventative benefits. Check out what else ginger can do for you below!
Treats nausea and other stomach ailments: Ginger is effective at relieving nausea from different sources, including seasickness, pregnancy and even from cancer treatments. It can also help speed up digestion and reduce the impact of chronic indigestion.
Reduces pain related to exercise: A 2010 study in the official journal of the American Pain Society found that participants who consumed ginger 24 hours after exercise had less pain 48 hours after working out than those who did not. While ginger didn’t immediately relieve pain, it did appear to reduce it later, leading the researchers to theorize that it may reduce the severity of daily aches and pains.
May help lower blood sugar: While a relatively new area of research, it’s been noted that ginger may help lower blood sugar levels. A 2015 study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research involved 41 people with type 2 diabetes consuming two grams of ginger powder daily. The participants’ fasting blood sugar levels went down by 12 percent.
Possible cancer protection: Ginger may help prevent certain types of cancers, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods. Gingerols, an active ingredient in the spice that lends it flavor, might help inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer and ovarian cells in humans.
Immune system boost: WH Foods also notes that ginger helps boost sweat production, which some researchers believe helps stave off infection because the moisture has been found to contain a germ-fighting agent.
How To Get More Ginger Into Your Diet
Ginger is, as mentioned above, a pretty versatile ingredient that you can get in multiple forms. If you want to experience all the benefits from its medicinal properties in their most powerful form, the Arthritis Foundation recommends trying supplements with a super-critical extraction, a process that produces the purest ginger.
They advise using up to two grams over three divided doses daily or a maximum of four cups of ginger tea.
If you’d rather incorporate more ginger into your daily diet by using foods, try:
- Adding some fresh ginger into your next juice or smoothie for a zesty flavor punch
- Adding dried or fresh ginger to your next salad dressing or stir-fry for spice
- Steeping fresh ginger that’s been peeled in boiling water for your own tea, or buy pre-made tea that contains pure ginger
- Using dried or fresh ginger to spice up your favorite fish recipe or to add to your rice
When you buy fresh ginger, look for the ginger that’s smooth, free of mold and has a spicy scent. Generally speaking, you should peel and grate ginger root before you use it. You can keep fresh ginger in a sealed bag in your fridge or freezer.
If you don’t peel it, it can last for up to three weeks in your fridge and up to six months in your freezer. If you’re using dried ginger powder, make sure it’s stored in a tightly-sealed glass container and in a dark, dry and cool place. You can also store it in your fridge, where it has a shelf life of about one year.
The fine print
Natural ginger is generally safe and well-tolerated by most people. Medical News Today, however, does note that it can make the symptoms of acid reflux worse in some people.
Ginger may react with some other medications. If you take any of the medicines listed below, speak to your doctor before using it.
Medications that thin blood: Ginger can increase your bleeding risk, so be cautious if you take thinners such as clopidogrel, warfarin or aspirin.
Diabetes medicines: Since ginger may lower your blood sugar, it can increase your risk of developing low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
Medicines for high blood pressure: Ginger is thought to lower your blood pressure, which can raise your risk of an irregular heartbeat or blood pressure that’s too low.
With all the pain-relieving effects and other boosts ginger has to offer, it’s worth adding into your diet today. Be creative and add the aromatic spice whenever you can to reap its natural benefits!