Ginger’s Medicinal Properties and Other Health Benefits

If you’re a ginger-enthusiast like me, you’ll love learning about the amazing health benefits ginger offers. If you’re not, we’ll cover a few ways to incorporate ginger into your diet that actually taste good (like a healthy strawberry ginger soda! stay tuned…)

Ginger is delicious in savory stir fries, sweet traditional desserts, and even bubbly beverages. This super spice has a long list of wonderful health benefits, from anti-inflammatory properties to calming upset stomachs. Many cultures claim it — whether munched, pickled, crystallized, grated, or dipped in hot water. It’s also cited for its medicinal properties, as well as for resolving health ailments for centuries.  

If you’re a ginger lover, this will make you love it even more. Without further ado, here are some of the best benefits ginger has to offer.

Helps Relieve Nausea

Ginger reduces nausea and vomiting. This includes motion sickness, morning sickness, postoperative nausea, and travel-related sickness. Moreover, it’s all natural and (can be) completely organic, which is often more appealing than taking medication all the time. 

Coming from someone who gets motion-sickness from swings and rocking chairs, I know how important it is to plan ahead. I take these ginger chews on car rides, boat rides, and planes to help keep my stomach calm.

Reduces Arthritis Inflammation and Pain

Ginger helps improve rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other rheumatism. That includes muscle pain and muscle soreness caused by exercise. These benefits are credited to ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Aids in Digestion

Consuming ginger helps reduce bloating, flatulence, intestinal colic, poor digestion, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Ginger supports your body’s food digestion, as well as nutrient absorption and assimilation, by stimulating your body’s digestive acids and secretions.

This makes ginger a great addition before or after a meal to support your digestive processes.

Helps Combat Lung Disease and Infections

Ginger can help combat bronchitis and asthma due to its immune-boosting properties. This is because ginger can help remove excess mucus and reduce inflammation in the airways. For the same reason, ginger is often used as a natural decongestant and antihistamine. 

Helps Alleviate Gut Infections

Some animal studies show that ginger may inhibit H.pylori stomach infections. H.pylori is a bacteria that lives in your digestive tract that, if unmanaged, can lead to stomach cancer and gastric ulcers.

Research also shows that ginger helps reduce gum disease. I know—you thought we were talking about the gut! Well, the mouth is the very first part of the gut, so it’s incredibly important to have a healthy mouth. Gum disease is caused by bacteria buildup, so it makes sense that ginger helps because it’s an antibacterial.

Supports Blood Glucose Levels

Some studies show that ginger can effectively lower fasting blood sugar in people with diabetes and reduce Hemoglobin A1c. Hemoglobin A1c is a blood sugar indicator regularly used by people with diabetes for monitoring purposes. 

Improve Blood Circulation and Prevent Cold Hands and Feet

Ginger is hyperthermic, meaning it triggers a warming of the body. This warming and circulatory response promotes blood circulation to the extremities and makes it a practical solution for helping cold hands and feet. It may even aid in Raynaud’s disease

Eases Period Cramps and Dysmenorrhea

Period cramps are sometimes linked to your body’s excessive production of prostaglandins, which helps contract the uterus to shed the lining during a period. Ginger may reduce prostaglandins and therefore help ease period cramps. It can also help with endometriosis thanks to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Prevents Respiratory Infections

Ginger is an excellent support to the immune system. It’s also a great preventative measure against the common cold and other viral infections. In addition, it also reduces painful sore throats, nasal congestion, and coughs.

Has Anti-Cancer Properties

Gingerol is a compound found in ginger, and it’s what gives ginger such a refreshing spice! This compound, along with other compounds found in ginger, are shown to have protective properties against certain types of cancer, such as colorectal, liver, and prostate cancer. 

Eases Migraines

Migraines are terrible, especially if you experience them on a recurring basis. Consuming ginger can help reduce headaches and migraines thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. According to several animal studies, ginger also helps protect memory, support brain function, and reduce brain damage. 

Prevents Drug-Resistant Microbial Diseases 

Ginger, when mixed with garlic like in this delicious wellness shot, has an intense antibacterial effect that helps protect your body against pathogens (microorganisms that cause disease). This means it helps prevent sickness, including drug-resistant diseases. Prevention of these diseases is especially helpful because these diseases are drug resistant and therefore harder to treat. 

Conclusion

This super spice is prevalent in cultures all over the world: in curries, stews, sweets, cookies, pressed juices, and more—and no wonder! It’s health benefits make it a no-brainer to include in any healthful diet.

To help you get your daily dose of ginger, here are a few fun ways to incorporate it into your daily routine: 

  1. Ginger herbal tea
  2. Veggie stir fry with ginger and garlic
  3. Strawberry ginger with hibiscus prebiotic soda (this one is my fave!)
  4. Sugared ginger chews
  5. Ginger snap cookies
  6. Ginger pills (perfect if you don’t like the taste of ginger)

My favorite from the list above? Mayawell’s Strawberry Ginger with Hibiscus healthy soda. It has a strong dose of spicy ginger that’s perfect after a meal to settle the stomach. I often drink it right away in the morning, too, to get my digestive system started on the right foot. With 20% of your daily value of fiber in each can and no refined sugar, it’s the perfect way to amp up ginger’s already amazing benefits.

What are prebiotics?

If you’re a gut-health enthusiast, you may notice that the iPhone doesn’t recognize the word “prebiotics.” That invalidation from Apple makes the modern American ask some questions:

  • Are prebiotics even real, or is this like Dogecoin?
  • If they are real, what are they?
  • Do they mean probiotics, and need to work on their proofreading skills? 

 

All valid questions. That’s why we’ll go over what prebiotics are (yes, they’re real!), and why they’re an important part of any healthful diet.

Definition of prebiotic 

The word prebiotic comes from two root words:

  1. Pre, meaning “before”
  2. Biotic, meaning “produced by life or living organisms”

Merriam-Webster defines prebiotic as “existing or occurring before the origin of life.” (Which sounds pretty existential and profound, doesn’t it?)

When we piece this together through the lens of gut health, we come to the following conclusions:

  1. Prebitoics come before a certain outcome. You can’t have good gut health without first getting your prebiotics right.
  2. Prebiotics involve real, living things. In our gut, prebiotics promote the life of good bacteria all throughout our gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Put very simply, prebiotics are fermentable fiber that help nourish gut bacteria found throughout the intestinal tract. If we were to consider gut bacteria to be “seeds,” we could consider prebiotics to be the essential “water” that grows and nourishes them.

The importance of gut bacteria

 

You may be wondering why we need to worry about our gut bacteria in the first place. It’s a good question! We spend a lot of time washing bacteria off of our hands and cursing bacteria for bad breath on our first date, so why focus on preserving bacteria in your gut? 

 

When we talk about the gut, we’re talking about everything from your mouth to your bum, and all the stuff in-between, too: esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine. 

 

Each part of your gut is lined with bacteria, and this collection of bacteria is called your gut flora, or gut microbiome. Nearly 100 trillion micro-organisms live in our GI tracts. That’s more than the entire Earth’s population! 

 

Your gut bacteria allow you to convert food into what your body needs to thrive. Your gut bacteria:

  • Break down food into forms your body can utilize
  • Assist with mineral and Vitamin absorption
  • Keep your immune system strong
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Control inflammatory responses 
  • Boost metabolism 
  • Improve mental clarity 

 

Essentially, gut bacteria are the super-tiny MVPs of the GI tract. You couldn’t digest without them.

Prebiotics vs. probiotics

If prebiotics nourish our good gut bacteria (remember, “pre” = “before”), it makes sense that probiotics are new living bacteria we can introduce to the digestive system to sit alongside existing bacteria. 

Probiotics can be helpful. If you’re experiencing digestive issues, introducing new bacteria to your gut can help restore balance to your GI tract. However, if you’re not giving your gut bacteria enough food, they’ll continue to die. 

Let’s go back to our garden analogy: say we’re experiencing a terrible drought and our summer garden is shriveling up into a dead, barren wasteland. We can continue to bring new plants and flowers into our garden, but without any water (prebiotics), those plants will continue to shrivel up and die. Furthermore, we waste our time, money, and energy in the process. 

That’s not to say probiotics aren’t helpful—they can be! But they should be accompanied by prebiotics and a healthy dose of fiber. 

Prebiotics vs. fiber

Dietary fiber is the indigestible part of plants, and there are two types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. 

  • Soluble fiber ferments in the colon (these are prebiotics)
  • Insoluble fiber does not ferment in the colon (these are NOT prebiotics)

Because soluble fiber ferments in the colon, this means it interacts with your gut bacteria. The fermentation allows gut bacteria to eat, be nourished, and grow. 

So, all prebiotics are fiber, but not all fibers are prebiotics. (Much like all hotdogs are sandwiches, but not all sandwiches are hotdogs.)

Balancing your prebiotics 

Gut bacteria, much like you and me, feed off of different foods. Some love avocados, others love celery, some love pineapple, etc. That’s why eating a varied diet is important; it ensures all of your different gut bacteria are getting the nutrients they need.

How to incorporate prebiotics into your diet

Lucky for all of us, there are tons of delicious plants out there that contain the prebiotic fiber we need to keep our gut microbiome happy and healthy. A few of my favorite staples include:

  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas

But, as much as I love Jerusalem Artichoke and garlic, incorporating them into my daily diet just isn’t realistic. That’s why I’ve found other ways to get my needed daily dose of prebiotics.

There are many capsules and supplements out there to help boost your prebiotic intake, but it can be hard to know what’s good quality vs. what’s a marketing scheme. And honestly, I usually forget to take these. There’s no enjoyment that comes with taking a pill, so I find it challenging to stay on track.

That’s why Mayawell is the only way I add prebiotics to my diet now. It comes in 4 bubbly flavors and has 5g of organic, hand-harvested prebiotic fiber in every can (that’s 20% of your daily value!). It’s also free of additives, fillers, stabilizers, and refined sugar. At only 40 calories per can, it’s the perfect, delicious way to reach your fiber goals. And it tastes good, so I never forget to drink it. 

Remember how we talked about balancing your prebiotics? Well, the cool thing about this prebiotic soda is that the Active Agave used to sweeten it retains up to 60% of a person’s existing gut bacteria. This means it’s diverse: it appeals to more types of gut bacteria than most foods.

Let’s see what you learned

Are you really ready for the real world of gut health? Could you explain what prebiotics are to your mom? Test your new knowledge with the fill-in-the-blank below:

  1. If we were to consider gut bacteria to be “seeds,” we could consider __________ to be the essential “water” that grows and nourishes them.
  2. __________ are new living bacteria we can introduce to the digestive system to sit alongside existing bacteria.
  3. Dietary ________ is an indigestible part of plants, and there are two types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
  4. True/False: Eating a varied diet is important; it ensures all of your different gut bacteria are getting the nutrients they need.

Answers

  1. Prebiotics
  2. Probiotics
  3. Fiber
  4. True