Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, shares a simple lemon ginger tea recipe. But first, a closer look at five health and wellness benefits of ginger.
As a registered dietitian, I have to let you know that the perfect cure-all food doesn’t exist. However, a few do come close, and ginger is surely amongst them.
What Is Ginger, Exactly?
Ginger is a tropical plant native to Asia. The underground rhizome of this medicinal plant is called the ginger root, which is what we commonly see complementing our plate of sushi and at our local farmers market. Ginger root has been praised for thousands of years for its therapeutic properties… but does it actually benefit your health? Simply put, yes!
5 Health Benefits of Ginger
Here are five science-backed benefits of ginger that’ll encourage you to include it in your daily diet.
1. Improves Digestion
For starters, consuming fresh or powdered ginger can support healthier digestion and lessen discomfort after eating. Researchers found that consuming ginger before a meal can actually stimulate digestion by speeding up the amount of time your stomach needs to empty its food contents to the small intestine. This physiological process is called gastric emptying. Slow gastric emptying is a common underlying cause of acid reflux, abdominal pain, and bloating. But more critically, it can impact your body’s ability to break down and absorb nutrients.
2. Relieves Muscle Soreness
Making it to the gym is hard, but dealing with post-workout aches is usually worse. According to a 2010 study by the American Pain Society, consuming two grams of ginger per day can help reduce pain associated with exercise-induced muscle soreness. Researchers deem ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties as hypoalgesic, a fancy word indicating that it counteracts pain stimuli.
3. Combats Nausea + Motion Sickness
If you have a sensitive stomach or experience motion sickness, ginger can be an effective antidote. Its ability to reduce nausea is arguably one of ginger’s most traditional and well-supported uses for health and wellness. Both motion sickness and general nausea often result from gastric dysrhythmias, a condition that occurs when the stomach’s muscle rhythms are out of sync. Luckily, a 2003 study suggests you can avoid gastric dysrhythmias by consuming ginger ahead of time.
4. Eases Menstrual Pain
Looking to ditch your OTC pain meds during that time of the month? Then ginger may be the solution for you. A 2009 double-blind study found that ginger root was just as effective as ibuprofen and mefenamic acid (common pain meds) in reducing menstrual-related pain. Additionally, a 2014 study suggests that if you take ginger daily during the week leading up your new cycle, your mood and other behavioral PMS symptoms can improve.
5. Supports Cognitive Health
Lastly, there’s substantial research on ginger’s ability to support healthy brain function. In a 2012 study, women who took ginger daily experienced significant boosts in their memory and cognitive performance. Other studies also show similar findings, suggesting that the bioactive properties and antioxidant activity in ginger may be beneficial in protecting the brain against cognitive decline.
Lemon Ginger Tea Recipe
The perks of including ginger root in your daily routine are undeniable, but ginger’s pungent taste isn’t for everybody. However, don’t let its strong flavor be the reason you miss out on ginger’s promising health benefits. One of easiest ways to mask ginger’s zingy taste is to brew it in a tea!
- 1 inch fresh ginger root, thinly sliced with skin on
- 1/4 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 cup boiled water
- Honey or maple syrup (optional)
- Remove the boiling water from heat. Carefully add thinly sliced ginger and lemon.
- Steep for 10 minutes and strain. (Optional: Add honey or maple syrup to dilute the taste of ginger.) I recommend serving it warm for indigestion, or cold for a more refreshing taste.
On a final note, ginger is on the US Food and Drug Administration’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list. However, pregnant women and people undergoing medical treatments or procedures should check with their doctor before supplementing ginger into their daily diet.