Have you ever gotten motion sick on the airplane and were immediately served Ginger Ale? Or maybe see ginger as one of the top ingredients in every juice bar and wonder what’s the secret behind ginger? Why am I seeing it so often?
Well, ginger has a long history of being used for a host of ailments that of which include alleviating nausea, inflammation and improving digestion.
Personally, this last week, all I was craving was ginger. Ginger tea, ginger smoothies and even stir frying it. As I mentioned in another blog “Honoring Cravings”, I discuss how cravings are clues. They’re an internal signal our brain creates that tells us “hey, something is out of balance”.
So while sipping on my ginger tea, I started my research process of “what are the benefits of ginger?” And drew some interesting conclusions as to why I was craving it.
My most recent introduction to incorporating ginger was by my acupuncturist who suggested starting my mornings off with a warm cup of ginger tea. Why? To help settle my stomach (I had been experiencing an unusual bout of morning nausea). After just a few mornings of replacing my morning cup of joe with ginger tea, I realized that my nausea had dissipated and I was also a lot more hydrated.
So what are the benefits of ginger?
Fresh ginger root is a common herb used in Chinese medicine. I grew up with my grandma sneaking ginger into nearly all her Chinese dishes. Back then, biting into a chunk of ginger, thinking it was a piece of steak in her chow fun, was not necessarily my cup of tea. It was potent and too spicy for my young taste buds back then. However, now? I can't get enough!
Ginger helps aid in the following:
Improved immune system (helps clear sinuses while aiding in “detoxing” the body)
Reduce menstrual pain
So looking at the above benefits, why was I craving ginger?
First off, I was about 4 days out from my monthly visit. This last month was a bit more chaotic: working longer hours with less wind down time and recovery. My body was in need of some nourishment. Gingerol is the main compound found in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Personally, when I am under-recovered, my body craves foods that help reduce inflammation: ginger, carrots, orange juice, coconut water, lots of healthy fats (coconut butter, ghee, olive oil), collagen and bone broth).
Another side benefit of ginger is utilizing ginger to combat the common cold. Fresh ginger root brewed in hot water, will help elevate body temp and as a result promote sweating. Think of it as a natural strategy to detox your body from pathogens. You can take a look at the infographic below on how quickly you can brew up your own batch of ginger tea:
I've more commonly use ginger as a digestive aid and also to help alleviate PMS symptoms.
I had a handful of more meals out of my normal routine, which means, my stomach was probably working overtime trying to breakdown all these unusual ingredients. "Overtime"- more fatigue, more gas, less regular bowel movements.
If you’re struggling with digestive discomfort like bloating, gas, cramping, irregular bowel movements, adding in ginger can help in calming and soothing the stomach, by assisting in the breakdown of nutrients to ease digestibility. Keep in mind that you want to reflect on what you're eating and what may be causing your symptoms in combination with incorporating ginger/ginger tea.
The spice in ginger can actually help relax your intestines during "flare ups" (ex. Endometriosis, PMS symptoms, GI flare ups, food sensitivities). Not only will this ease symptoms, it will protect against further damage to the intestinal tract by helping reduce inflammation. Ginger contains compounds called phytonutrients, which are chemicals that help protect us against bacteria. The less harmful bacteria in the body, the better able your body is capable of doing it's everyday tasks: breathing, digestion, thinking, executing tasks, moving.
I'd suggest using raw ginger instead of supplementation (ex. ginger pills). When prepping your ginger, remove the skin, but be careful to not remove too much of the ginger directly under the skin (that's the "young" and freshest part).
When storing it, wrap it in a paper towel then place in a separate Tupperware, from the lemon or any other produce as it will prevent the ginger from moistening up.
Enjoy a warm cup of ginger tea in the morning or before meals. I would also suggest it to be more present around that time of the month.
I linked a short video for you so you can how to cut ginger:
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