Spices are used on a daily basis to help flavor a large variety of dishes, including both savory and sweet meals, desserts, and other foods. While most people use these products simply to add flavor to a meal, many do not realize that some of the spices have powerful medicinal properties. Ginger is a good example of such a spice, extracted from a plant root and used in many cuisines, especially in Indian and Asian cooking styles.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years in many countries as a medicinal plant. It is often used to help treat nausea, but there are many other medicinal uses for this particular plant root extract. In this article, we explore ginger in more detail and focus on the role of ginger water in weight loss. You’ll be surprised by how beneficial it is for your endeavor to slim down.
What is Ginger?
Ginger is a type of flowering plant. The plant is closely related to two other plants that are often used in cooking – cardamom and turmeric. The scientific name of ginger is Zingiber officinale. The root of the plant is used as a spice and is also the part of the Zingiber officinale plant that holds the greatest medicinal potential. The root of the ginger plant is also referred to as the rhizome.
The rhizome of ginger contains many phytonutrients and other natural chemicals that contribute to the many health benefits that the plant has been associated with. One of the most important of these chemicals would be gingerol, which has been linked to many positive effects on the human body.
How is Ginger Used?
Ginger is often used in cooking. There are many dishes that are prepared with ginger as an ingredient, as well as a few candies and desserts. Ginger comes in quite a large variety of forms today. It is possible to get your hands on ground ginger, which is a popular way to use this spice when cooking food and preparing other recipes that call for ginger. The plant is also available fresh.
In addition to these forms, ginger is often also infused into juices and can be purchased as part of a tea as well. There are ginger essential oils on the market. Extracts from the rhizome of the ginger plant are also added to capsules, allowing you to consume ginger by taking a dietary supplement.
When we’re talking about the uses of ginger, it’s impossible not to mention the very subject of our post – ginger water. Many people swear by ginger water and its benefits. If you’ve never tried it out, through this post you’ll learn more about it and whether it can help you slim down. Or how it supports weight loss!
What is Ginger Water?
Ginger water is essentially tea that you can make with the plant root. It’s not the ginger-enriched tea in filter bags that you can buy in a supermarket. Usually, ginger water contains nothing but water and ginger root. But it’s also possible to go one step further and add honey, lemon, or lime juice to balance out flavors (1). If you decide to make ginger water, make sure to avoid adding unhealthy ingredients. The best thing to do is to use ginger only or the three ingredients we mentioned in the previous sentence. Just don’t go overboard with the sweeteners.
Before we get into the benefits of ginger water it’s important to clarify one thing. Grating or chopping ginger root into cold water won’t give you the benefits you’re looking for. That happens because ginger can’t release all its powerful compounds that way. That’s why you have to cook ginger and make tea. Let it cool down and you’ll get ginger water.
You can use ½ teaspoon of ginger in four cups of water and steep for 10 minutes (2).
Ginger Water and Weight Loss
Many people swear by ginger water for weight loss. It’s impossible not to wonder if those claims are true. They are and science confirms it.
One review of available evidence found ginger successfully reduced body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, hip ratio, and fasting glucose levels while increasing HDL or good cholesterol (3).
The January 2020 issue of the journal Foods published a paper that focused specifically on ginger water and its impact on weight. The findings revealed intake of ginger water can reduce weight gain and increase energy levels. Ginger water works by regulating lipid (fat) metabolism, insulin sensitization, and facilitating transportation of glucose to liver cells and thereby improving glucose metabolism (4).
Additionally, the journal Nutrients featured a study that confirmed ginger extract successfully reduced body weight and fat mass in mice fed a high-fat diet. The ginger extract also increased lipid excretion through feces meaning there was less fat to be stored in the body. Moreover, ginger promotes weight loss through AMPK activation in white adipose tissue (5). You see, AMPK is an enzyme that plays a role in cellular energy homeostasis. Activation of this enzyme in white fat (the most abundant type of fat in the body) could have therapeutic potential for the treatment of obesity (6).
How Does Ginger Water Promote Weight Loss?
As seen above, ginger water can indeed help you lose weight. Some mechanisms of action were briefly mentioned in the previous section, but we’re going to further elaborate on them below.
So, how does ginger water work actually?
Evidence shows ginger could modulate obesity by increasing thermogenesis, improving lipolysis (the metabolic process through which triglycerides break down), suppressing lipogenesis, inhibiting intestinal fat absorption, and controlling your appetite (7). Tiny reminder, lipogenesis is a metabolic process wherein carbohydrates are turned into fatty acids, building blocks of fat.
Basically, ginger could speed up your metabolism and help you burn more calories than before. A calorie deficit is important for successful weight loss. At the same time, ginger can control your appetite and prevent overeating. In one study overweight men who consumed ginger stayed full for longer (8).
Gingerols from ginger promote certain biological activities in the body and exhibit anti-obesity effects. For example, they help food digest faster and stimulate to move the digested food through the colon more quickly. Gingerols also stabilize blood glucose levels (9). This is particularly important if we bear in mind stable blood sugar is vital for weight loss.
To sum up, ginger water is a great weight-loss ally because it can:
- Speed up your metabolism
- Aid management of blood glucose
- Suppress your appetite
- Support fat burning
You’ll learn more about some of the most important health benefits of ginger further in the article. Let’s also not forget ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which come useful because excess weight is associated with inflammation and oxidative stress.
Ginger Water with Lemon
When you’re making ginger water you have the option to prepare ginger only or add other ingredients such as lemon. In fact, lemon is probably the best “additional” ingredient to combine with ginger water. Why? Lemon juice can support the weight-loss benefits of ginger water.
Evidence confirms lemon juice can act as an appetite suppressant (10). Plus, it’s a wonderful source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant.
What Are the Health Benefits of Ginger Water?
Ginger happens to be one of the healthiest plants in the world. The benefits of consuming ginger or drinking ginger water extend beyond weight loss. Below, we’re going to discuss the most notable effects of ginger.
1. Anti-nausea properties
Ginger is well-known for its ability to assist in alleviating nausea. This is the most common medicinal use for the plant root. Many studies have also looked at how beneficial ginger is for people who experience nausea, as well as vomiting.
A review study conducted by the School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences in the United Kingdom analyzed multiple previous scientific papers to determine the potential efficacy of ginger as an anti-nausea and anti-vomiting agent. The study found that ginger was superior to the placebo at treating both nauseous patients, as well as those who vomited (11). Furthermore, some studies have suggested that the anti-nausea effects of ginger are similar to what can be achieved through the use of the drug Metoclopramide.
Ginger seems to be effective in treating nausea and vomiting in the following conditions:
- Morning sickness
- Nausea caused by chemotherapy
2. Muscle pain relief
Some studies have shown that ginger may have a positive impact on people who experience muscle pain. A scientific paper in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine explains that ginger is not only known to possess potent antioxidant potential, but also has anti-inflammatory properties (12). This is essentially what contributes to improvements in muscle soreness.
In one study, scientists asked participants to perform elbow exercises, also known as eccentric exercises. The goal was to induce some level of muscle pain with the utilization of the specific exercise protocols introduced to the participants. Both raw and heat-treated ginger administration to the participants yielded a significant level of relief in terms of the muscle pain experienced (13).
It should be noted, these properties are not immediate when it comes to ginger in particular. Instead, a daily administration of ginger is advised as the effects may take some time to become present. This makes ginger a good option for people who frequently participate in exercise and would like to reduce the level of strain and pain they experience from their activities.
3. Reduced osteoarthritis pain
In addition to helping relieve muscle pain, people with joint pain related to osteoarthritis may also be able to benefit from the use of ginger. Similarly, the anti-inflammatory effects of the ginger plant are what comes into play here.
In one study 63% of the individuals who received ginger reported a significant improvement in their knee pain. Only 50% of the people who were part of the control group had experienced an improvement in their symptoms (14).
4. Blood glucose management
High blood glucose content is considered an epidemic today, causing millions of people to develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. These conditions are contributing to many deaths each year. Studies have found that ginger may also be useful for bringing down blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for people who are at risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as those already diagnosed with the condition.
A study published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research considered the impact that ginger had on both blood sugar levels and heart disease risk factors. During the study, scientists provided patients with a daily two-gram dosage of ginger root powder. The study was conducted over a 12-week period.
The fasting blood sugar levels of patients who consumed the ginger root powder on a daily basis were lowered by an average of 12%. Furthermore, there was also an average reduction of 10% in the HbA1c readings in the patients who had taken the ginger extract (15).
Other Important Benefits of Ginger
Besides the above-mentioned effects, ginger is also known for the amazing potential to provide the following health benefits:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antioxidant role
- Indigestion management
- Reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides
- Improved hydration (ginger water specifically)
- Nutritious content and an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, folate, choline, and selenium
- Reduced menstrual pain
- Improved brain function
- Lower risk of infections
When we’re talking about the last item on the last, it is useful to mention staying hydrated can help you slim down. Drinking water can suppress your appetite, make you feel full, and thereby prevent overeating or reduce calorie intake.
Are There Any Side Effects Associated with Ginger or Ginger Water?
Ginger as a spice in food, whether added in the form of ground ginger or a fresh piece of the rhizome, is generally considered very safe. The spice can add great flavor to a large variety of dishes. In most other forms, such as when having some ginger tea, benefits like the anti-nausea effects of ginger can be experienced, without causing any unpleasant adverse events to take place.
When taking ginger water or a capsule that contains ginger, however, there are certain possible side effects that you should be wary of. These side effects are generally considered rare and usually only possible when you take too much ginger, but it is still important to have a thorough understanding of what could happen.
Some of the potential side-effects that have been noted by people who use ginger include (16):
- Throat irritation
- Mouth irritation
- Abdominal discomfort
- An increased tendency to bleed
It is generally advised that the maximum amount of ginger to be taken in a 24-hour period be limited to two to four grams, depending on the form of ginger that is being used, as well as the purpose.
The following side effects have been noted in cases where people have overdosed on ginger:
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Depression of the central nervous system
Men and women with diabetes, gallstones, and heart conditions should consult their healthcare providers before they start using ginger water (or other ginger-based products) for weight loss.
Ginger root is not only used as a spice in both sweet and savory foods but also holds an impressive number of health benefits and medicinal properties. The use of the ginger plant’s root for medicinal purposes dates back to ancient times in Arabic, Greek, Roman, and Chinese regions.
Today, people have the opportunity to use ginger itself or various products that contain this spice. You can also make ginger water and drink it, which can help with weight loss. The product is known to assist in improving the general well-being of the body, boost the immune system, and even become useful when it comes to treating ailments like nausea and an upset stomach.
The health benefits of ginger have not only been documented in ancient texts but are also backed by many scientific research studies that have been conducted in the modern day.