Inflammation. It’s a word that seems to be popping up in the health community more frequently as more awareness comes into this cause of illness and disease. But what is it exactly? And how does it impact your health?
What Is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a natural immune response that your body has when it’s under stress. In simple terms, think about a workout. You stress your muscles during a workout and then what happens? You get sore—you experience inflammation. The same thing happens on a cellular level. When a pathogen enters the body like a virus or bacteria or even a toxin, the body goes into protective mode and inflammatory cytokines are used as a defense mechanism. This protects the body from harm. However, in excess, these cytokines can cause major problems.
Chronic inflammation is the beginning of a disease. Think about the major disorders that people face today—allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), heart disease, cancer, and more. What do all these illnesses have in common? Inflammation.
If inflammation is a common factor in many diseases, wouldn’t it make sense to reduce inflammation as much as possible? The answer is yes. But how? Well, one simple food can do the trick. Ginger.
The Basics of Ginger
Ginger is a root that has a spicy and intense flavor commonly used with other herbs and spices in Indian cooking. But it’s gaining popularity around the world for its health benefits. Aside from aiding digestion and helping combat nausea, one of the health benefits of ginger is fighting inflammation. But why is it so good for fighting inflammation?
Ginger’s Natural Anti-inflammatory Strengths
Gingerol, shogaol, and paradol, which are the active constituents in ginger, are what make this spicy root so anti-inflammatory. Studies have shown that ginger inhibits the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines that make inflammation happen more frequently in the body. These cytokines are directly related to chronic inflammation. Because the powerful ginger has been shown to reduce the levels of inflammation that those pro-inflammatory cytokines can produce, it’s only natural that inflammation will decrease, too, which is a huge deal for preventing disease.
Because inflammation can run so rampant in the body—especially with a poor diet—ginger helps to reduce the overall amount of inflammation that occurs in the body. Inflammation is inevitable, as it’s necessary to protect the body, but it’s chronic inflammation you want to avoid. So if you’re experiencing an inflammatory condition, ginger is a natural and powerful anti-inflammatory remedy to try.
Knowing that ginger is helpful for inflammation is one thing, but applying it is a whole different aspect. So how do you use it in your daily life? Ginger can be an acquired taste. Because it is slightly spicy, it works well consumed with sweeter things until you get used to the flavor. Ginger is versatile so there are many ways to use its medicinal properties!
1. Fresh Ginger Root
Eating ginger root fresh is the most potent form, but it can be used in most ways. If using it in hot water or tea, you can steep it. It can also be juiced or used in stir-fry recipes. It’s great in smoothies too or if you want to have raw ginger on its own just slice it and suck on the juices. If you don’t want to continually buy fresh ginger root, but still get the fresh benefits, peel off the skin and freeze it! Then you can easily add grated ginger to any recipe.
2. Ground Ginger
Like fresh ginger, ground ginger can be used similarly. Add it to your tea or a cup of hot water and use it in all your favorite recipes if you don’t have fresh. In baking, ground ginger works wonderfully.
3. Ginger Capsules
If you want an easy way to get ginger in your diet, ginger capsules are the way to go. These ginger supplements are also great if you can’t stomach the taste of fresh ginger.
4. Ginger Tea
Drinking ginger tea is a great way to incorporate the positive effects of ginger into your diet. The benefits of ginger tea extend beyond fighting inflammation to helping relieve an upset stomach and improve blood circulation. You can make your own homemade ginger tea using fresh ginger or powdered ginger, but you can also buy ginger tea that’s ready to go in stores. Ginger tea bags are a great thing to have stocked in your cabinet for times when you need a cup of anti-inflammatory goodness!
5. Ginger Chews
These are like ginger-flavored candies that have a more palatable taste. They are shelf-stable so they can be taken with you when traveling or just in your day-to-day. A great way to get some natural anti-inflammatory benefits!
Try this easy recipe for a pineapple ginger smoothie to enjoy the positive effects of ginger first thing in the morning.
Pineapple Ginger Smoothie
Refreshing, sweet, spicy, and good for fighting inflammation, this smoothie is everything you need to fuel your cells and protect them as well.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, grated
- 1/2 banana
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Drink up and reap the anti-inflammatory benefits!
Fighting inflammation that can lead to an upset stomach or nausea is something you want to do daily. Eating or drinking ginger is a healthy and easy way to do that!
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
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