What exactly is ginger? It is a root of the flowering plant in the turmeric and cardamom family. The flowers may be red, white, or a combination of yellow and green. The root is knotted and tubular with a light, tan-colored, shiny tough skin. The tougher and thicker the skin, the older the roots are. Roots that are a year old or more have more health benefits due to the age and maturity. They smell spicier and are heavier for their size too. The more mature roots have more concentrated essential oils inside of them. I am are so lucky to live in San Francisco because I can easily find ginger in the markets.
Ginger originated in Asia over 5000 years ago, but has been mentioned in ancient texts from all over the world. The ginger root has essential oils, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and phyto-chemicals that combine to provide healing properties. What are phyto-chemicals? Phyto-chemicals are naturally occurring compounds that boost cellular function. They make everything work better. They act as antioxidants, antibacterials, antivirals, and anti inflammatory agents. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Ginger includes 10 essential amino acids that the body does not make. We must get our essential amino acids through foods.
Ginger may be used for digestion issues, headaches, joint aches, flu and cold symptoms, infections, and more. Ginger is great for pregnant women as a warrior against nausea. I have a coworker who says, “Mother Nature is our shield and our sword.” Think about that statement. Plant matter can kill or cure. Usually in the forest if there is something poisonous to eat, there is a plant about two feet away that is the cure for the poison.
Ginger improves circulation, metabolism, and aids in giving us energy. Ginger helps to reduce the LDL (bad cholesterol) and improves the HDL (good cholesterol). It assists in the healthy functioning of hormones, including insulin. This helps with regulating blood sugar levels. It may aid with type II diabetes. How and why does it help with sugar and insulin? The ginger root keeps us from craving sugar. What does this? The spiciness. When we eat a lot of refined foods on a daily basis it affects our hormones and therefore our moods. We have all suffered from sugar highs and crashes. Adding ginger to our diet, even the candied dried variety can assist in stopping the cravings for junk food and sweets.
Pickled and fermented ginger, featured in Asian cooking, whether as a main component or as a condiment, can keep us from getting food poisoning from a bad batch of fish, sushi, or sashimi. Fermented and pickled ginger helps us absorb nutrients from the foods we eat along side of it. It is a probiotic. The probiotics plant themselves in the intestines. helps with digestion and immunity in this way. The more variety of probiotics introduced into the intestines, the more beautiful, healthy, and varied your internal garden will be.
We eat ginger in a myriad of ways:
- Essential oil
Here are some examples ginger preparations:
~kombucha with ginger
~ginger tea with honey
~ginger in soups
~ginger in slaw
~ginger oil in a diffuser for focus and energy
~ginger with coconut oil for oil pulling from teeth
~ginger oil mixed with a carrier oil for headaches
~ ginger ale or ginger beer was used for upset stomach since the 1850s
~chewing on a small piece of ginger like gum for 15-20 minutes releases all of the nutrients directly into the bloodstream and digestive tract
~the natural pH of ginger helps reduce acid in the stomach and heartburn symptoms
Now at the end of our wonderful time together, I must caution you. If taking prescription medication please consult with your health care provider about adding ginger to your daily routine. You may want to alter some of your medications as you increase the ginger products because of the general health benefits ginger provides. Also check for interactions with certain medications. I am not a doctor and cannot give personal medical advice. I am a research junkie and self-experimenter. I have found ginger to help me when I am sick and when I am healthy.
Enjoy your ginger snacks!