If there were ever an ancient "miracle drug," ginger would no doubt be in the running for that title. Ginger's widespread use in ancient Chinese, Indian and Arabic cultures is testament to the versatility and potency of this natural medicine. Ginger rhizomes, or roots, have been used to help digestion, clear the arteries, treat arthritis, relieve nausea, reduce tumor growth and migraines, eliminate fever and infection and lower cholesterol levels. Ginger's curative properties make it an essential and beneficial food.
Ginger and Digestion
One of the most exciting properties of ginger is its ability to help digestion, reduce food cravings and assist with weight loss. In Ayurvedic medicine as practiced in India, ginger is identified as being one of the most important foods to "ignite the digestive fire." The Western diet leaves people overweight, tired and undernourished. Your body simply can't process all of the salt, sugar and fat that you put into it when you eat the standard Western diet. When digestion slows down, you'll experience increased digestive problems like constipation, heartburn and indigestion. You'll also start gaining weight because you are eating more than your body can handle.
Ginger helps your digestive system in a few different ways. First, it can help to speed up your metabolism by increasing the circulation through the tissues in your body, including those in your digestive system. A faster metabolism will help you digest the food that you eat more efficiently. The enzymes in ginger also help your body break down protein efficiently and rapidly. It increases saliva and digestive juices as well. This can help you deal with heavy, rich foods like those most common in the Western diet.
Ginger and Weight Control
What does this mean for cravings and weight control? Most cravings result from a drop in blood sugar and a panicky "I need to eat something now!" feeling. Ginger can help stave off that feeling and keep your blood sugar stable. As a result, you'll be less prone to weak moments and less likely to succumb to cravings for sugar and other quick pick me ups like caffeine. Recent studies on ginger and type 2 diabetes have showed the important link between blood sugar levels and ginger. Ginger root supplements reduced the effects of elevated blood sugar or stomach rhythm. Ginger helped maintain a normal rate of stomach emptying, when compared to the placebo group.
Eat Ginger in its natural form
If ginger isn't part of your daily foods, it should be! Eating ginger in its natural form is most beneficial. You can steep shredded ginger root in water for a pleasant tasting tea or add shreds to salads or soups. It can also be added as a spice to many different foods. It works particularly well with Asian cuisine, and you'll find a lot of Asian recipes include ginger in the ingredients list.
When you are looking for ginger in the store, choose the freshest looking tubers possible. Fresh ginger will keep up to three weeks in the refrigerator. Ground ginger is processed, and it loses its flavor very quickly. Save yourself time and money by purchasing and shredding your own. It also goes without saying that ginger's benefits are lost when you're eating candied ginger. Stick to the fresh version for the greatest impact.