he flowering plant known as ginger is a familiar part of many of our diets – indeed, Chinese medicine has backed its use for the prevention and cure of all manner of health problems for more than two millennia.
So, what are just some of the curious facts about ginger that help to show why this flexible ingredient has persisted as a go-to option for supporting human health?
It probably hails from south-east Asia
Ginger has a fascinating history as a plant; it is likely native to south-east Asia, and is grown as a root.
It has been used in India and China since ancient times, and is thought to have become familiar to the English by the 11th century, in addition to being exported from Santiago to Spain from about the 16th century.
It contains gingerol
This oily liquid isn’t the only natural oil in ginger, but it is ginger’s main bioactive compound, and is part of why ginger has such strong medicinal effects.
Studies have suggested that gingerol has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, including effectiveness in helping to lower oxidative stress, which arises when the body has an excess level of free radicals.
It could help you avoid indigestion
Among the many health issues it has been suggested ginger could be instrumental in treating, is chronic indigestion.
It is thought that indigestion often occurs when the stomach doesn’t empty itself quickly enough, and research has indicated that ginger may help to speed up that emptying process.
It might lower your risk of infectious disease
It’s a longstanding tradition for many of us to add ginger to a hot vegetarian vitamin drink when feeling under the weather. What you might not have known, though, is the scientific evidence that ginger may help to reduce your chances of contracting an infectious disease in the first place.
Indeed, according to research, ginger extract might be useful for preventing different types of bacteria from growing. It has also been suggested that fresh ginger may have an impact against the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
It can combat respiratory problems
Let’s assume that it’s too late to prevent infectious disease and you’re already coughing – if so, ginger can still be well worth taking. That’s because ginger is a natural expectorant, meaning that it helps to clear mucus from your airways.
Consuming ginger could allow you to recover more quickly from any breathing difficulties, as it gets to work on freeing up phlegm and expanding your lungs.
It may aid your weight-loss efforts
Research undertaken on both humans and animals points to ginger’s potential value in making it easier for you to shed those extra pounds you might have gained during the recent lockdown.
A literature review in 2019, for instance, concluded that ginger supplementation could be effective in significantly decreasing body weight. This is complemented by the results of a 2016 study, which suggested ginger could help to lower body mass index (BMI) and blood insulin levels in women with obesity.
It supports normal blood circulation
Good circulation is something else that will benefit your immune system, given that it will help white blood cells to more easily make their way around your body as needed.
Sure enough, ginger has a reputation for helping to improve blood flow, thanks to the magnesium, chromium and zinc it contains.
There you go – just a few reasons why you may be thankful for the presence of ginger in your diet at any time, but certainly no less during a pandemic. That, in turn, is why you might want to make sure the next immune support drink you purchase contains it, too.
If you've got some ginger to use up and fancy adding it to a smoothie, take a look at our Vitamin C Drink Recipes - the 'anti-inflami-c' should definitely give you your gingerol fix!