Digestive health is usually overlooked until indigestion, gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation occur and force us to take notice.
When it does occur most people reach for the range of bottled, strange colored liquids that promise to ease discomfort available in the shops. But there is a far better, more natural, way to deal with digestive distress- ginger.
The use of ginger dates back hundreds of years. Ginger is one of the most powerful foods associated with alleviating gastrointestinal distress, such as bloating. It can also help to ease nausea and motion sickness. Ginger can help to eliminate intestinal gas and it can also act as an intestinal spasmolytic which means a substance that relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract.
But why would you go for ginger when there are so many medications available? Well, most medications have negative side effects and also only mask symptoms. They do not, in most cases, resolve them.
Ginger is different, it has no negative side effects and even has some extra benefits. Gingerol is a compound in ginger which acts as a potent anti-inflammatory- it can reduce inflammation that can cause aches and pains throughout the body.
Ginger can also help to soothe nausea in for pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness and can also act as a source of folic acid, which is a key vitamin in preventing birth defects.
I still wasn’t sure about ginger, as I am not the worlds biggest fan. But, a study done by the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology helped to change my opinion. The study found that ginger stimulates the movement of food through your stomach into your small intestine by assisting with the muscle contractions associated digestion. They also found that ginger could stimulate enzymes to break down food so nutrients could be more easily absorbed.
40% of people suffer from motion sickness and as I said, ginger can help with that too. In a recent study, it was found that ginger was shown to be more effective than many commonly used over the counter drugs for motion sickness. So why not keep some ginger sweets in the car next time you go on a long trip.
However not all ginger is the same. It is available fresh year round and so there is no excuse not to buy it fresh ginger rather than the dried form. Pure ginger contains higher levels of gingerol. When selecting your ginger, it is best to look for firmness and smoothness. In addition there should be no mold. There is no need to worry about ginger going off as fresh ginger can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks if unpeeled.
It is important to remember, especially if you haven’t cooked with ginger before, that adding ginger in the beginning of the cooking process will subtly add flavor but adding it at the end will result in a very strong, evident taste. So if you don’t like the strong taste of ginger try add it at the start of cooking.