Since ancient times, ginger has been considered a cure-all for all your digestive woes.
The spice is said to treat everything from nausea to bloating and indigestion. Loaded with antioxidants, there are some who also claim it can aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol, and act as an anti-inflammatory.
But how much truth is behind all these assertions? Jamie Allers, RD, a registered dietitian with Hartford HealthCare’s Digestive Health Center, shares some insight and the best way to incorporate ginger into your diet.
Not all those claims are backed by science.
Take many of those assertions with, well, a grain of salt, says Allers. It turns out, as with many supplements, there’s not a lot of scientific research to back up many of those claims.
“Some people who I work with swear by ginger,” Allers says. “They say a glass of warm water with lemon and ginger first thing in the morning makes their digestion throughout the day better. Others say they tried it and see no benefit.”
But, there’s no harm in incorporating it in your diet.
Ginger contains gingerol – a compound found in the natural oil of the root that also gives ginger its pungent flavor and aroma.
Research has also shown that gingerol has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Plus it’s safe for most people to consume.
Bottom line is that there’s no harm in adding ginger to your diet, even if its effectiveness isn’t 100% proven.
What kind of ginger is best to consume?
There are lots of types of ginger on the market, ranging from the fresh ginger root you can buy in the grocery store (it looks like a gnarly little tree branch), to powdered ginger, freeze dried, fresh frozen, supplements and essential oils. Allers always advises that fresh is best.
“Be careful if you are buying tea or something that is marketing itself as a ginger supplement,” she said. “Read the packaging. It could be mostly sugar, with maybe a small amount of actual ginger.”
And if your digestion is still giving you fits, it may be time to speak with a doctor.
Symptoms like nausea, bloating and indigestion can be a sign of something more serious. If you have concerns, speak with your primary care provider or schedule a consultation with a gastrointestinal expert.