If you’re into juicing or even have just sipped on the occasional green beverage, you’ve probably noticed that ginger is a common ingredient. It’s one of those foods (like kale, lemon juice and blueberries, to name a few) that you frequently see paired with the word “superfood” or included in top ten lists of miraculous foods you just must be eating right this second. But why?
A lot of people go along with health trends without really knowing why they’re doing so (see: THIS hilarious clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live of gluten-free people not knowing what gluten is)—and I’m guilty of it myself! (Guilty of blindly going along with trends, that is—I know what gluten is haha.) I was talking my friend’s ear off about juice the other day and was asked why I frequently put ginger in mine. I replied that ginger is a natural digestion aid and nausea-soother, but was a little embarrassed that I didn’t really know much beyond that. Don’t you hate that?? You’re talking all passionately about something and then get swiftly reduced from Expert to Queen Bullshitter—the worst. But happens to the best of us, right?…maybe?…humor me?
Anyway, to add to my limited knowledge of its ability to cure nausea and stomach aches, I did a little research and thought I’d share some fun facts about ginger. It really is a wonderful addition to juice (and regular meals, of course) and packed with health benefits.
Some Health Benefits of Ginger
- It’s a remedy for nausea, upset stomachs and cramps. Stomach aches, period cramps, nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness, flu symptoms—if it involves your gut feeling lousy, ginger has you covered. It does this by neutralizing stomach acid and absorbing gastrointestinal toxins and hormones.
- It’s a digestion rockstar. Ginger increases the secretion of digestive enzymes in the stomach, improving the absorption of nutrients.
- It’s an anti-inflammatory. Ginger inhibits two enzymes that are associated with chronic inflammation (COX and LOX). This applies to all sorts of inflammation—arthritis all the way to inflammation of the colon, which can be a precursor to colon cancer.
- It can help lower blood pressure. The gingerol in fresh ginger cause a widening of the blood vessel walls. This can help improve circulation and lower blood pressure. I had read before that rubbing ginger on my fingers when I’m having a Raynaud’s episode can help get the blood flowing again to those restricted blood vessels—now I know why!
- It can help with muscle pain. There was a study showing that taking ginger daily helped reduce exercise-induced muscle pain. In addition to ingestion, you can apply it topically, rubbing it into sore muscles or even arthritic joints (if you have ginger in essential oil form, this would be a great use!).
- It’s great if you have a head cold or congestion. The gingerol in ginger is similar to capsaisin in chili peppers and spicy foods in that it has that hot, ok-now-I’m-awake effect when crossed with your respiratory airways. It will break up congestion and open up those sinuses. Ginger is also a good immune system booster, activating T cells (those are the white blood cells responsible for killing off cells carrying viruses) and containing antimicrobial compounds that will help ward off the growth of bad bacteria.
Tips for Juicing Ginger
A little goes a long way when it comes to juicing ginger. It doesn’t yield a lot of juice (you probably won’t even see any drip out the juicer if you run it through on its own), but you’ll definitely taste it. I don’t use more than ½-1” of ginger root in a single juice.
I’ve read that you should remove the skin from the chunk of ginger you’re going to put through your juicer, and if it’s non-organic, I would agree with that. Being the lazy person that I am, however, I usually just cut off a small chunk from the root, quickly scrub it under some running water, and then pop it in the juicer, outer skin and all.
Ginger is a great addition to just about any green juice combination you can think up, and also wonderful with carrots (carrots + an orange + ginger = delicious!). Here are a few juice recipes I’ve posted in the past using ginger to get your started:
Do you add ginger to your juices?
Resources: Kimberly Snyder‘s website and books are always favorite resources when it comes to understanding what certain foods can do to benefit your body. I also found this site helpful. Reboot with Joe is another go-to of mine for juicing info!
Disclosure: The link to ginger essential oil is an affiliate link. I LOVE Mountain Rose Herbs and used them for all my essential oils long before I joined their affiliate program.