Ginger: 12 Reasons Why You Should Be Consuming This Herb

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

12 Reasons Why You Should Be Consuming It

ginger root

The underground portion of ginger is used.  The flesh of ginger may be white, yellow or red depending on the variety.  It has a light brownish skin. It has a aromatic, pungent and spicy smell and taste. 

Ginger has been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy.  Modern medicine and research has proven that ginger possesses several therapeutic properties. 

Benefits to Using Ginger

  • Antioxidant Rich. And you only need a small amount to reap its benefits.  You want to consume a antioxidant rich diet to support overall health and prevent disease. 
  • Reduces Pain from Osteoarthritis: Ginger Inhibits the formation of inflammatory compounds and has direct anti-inflammatory effects. This is due to compounds called gingerols.  It has been shown to reduce pain in those with arthritis and muscular discomfort.  In one study, those who took ginger extract 2 times per day had less pain and needed less pain killing meds than those who took the placebo.  The dose in one study was 250 mg. 4 times daily. 
  • Provides Gastrointestinal Relief: Ginger is commonly used for an upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, and IBS.
  • Can Prevent Sea Sickness: It has been shown to be far superior to Dramamine, an OTC drug, used for motion sickness. It can reduce symptoms associated with motion sickness such as nausea, vomiting and cold sweat.  There is a reason that you see ginger candy in gift shops at boat docks to purchase!
  • Relief from Vomiting and Nausea Associated with Pregnancy: It can be useful even in the most severe form. And unlike anti-vomiting, drugs ginger is safe during pregnancy and only a small amount is required.  Pregnant women can safely take up to one gram. 
  • Protective against Colorectal Cancer. Gingerols which is the main active component in ginger is also the one responsible for its distinctive flavor.  This component may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells.   
  • It can Induce Cell Death in Ovarian Cancer Cells. Again, this is thanks to the gingerols in ginger.  A pro-inflammatory state is thought to be important in the development of ovarian cancer. In the presence of ginger a few key indicators of inflammation were decreased in the ovarian cancer cells. 
  • Immune Boosting Properties. Since it has anti-viral properties, ginger can be useful to consume when you have a cold or flu or other viral infection.
  • Lowers Cholesterol and improves lipid metabolism. Studies show that ginger can have a dramatic effect on cardiovascular health. Studies used 250 micrograms of ginger
  • Anti-diabetic effects. In several studies ginger has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels, regulate insulin response and also reduced body weight.
  • Use it for Colds and Sore Throat. It is a natural remedy to soothe an irritated throat.  Regular intake of ginger stimulates the secretion of mucus which soothes and provides throat relief.  Natural oi in ginger acts as an expectorant and thus not only useful for colds but also for upper respiratory infections, coughs, asthma and bronchitis 
  • Use for PMS cramp pain. A 2009 study found that 250 mg. 4 times a day was just as effective as ibuprofen for pain relief associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. 

Ways to Incorporate Ginger into Your Diet

ginger-1714106_640

You don’t need to use much ginger to reap its benefits.  Whenever possible opt for fresh over the dried spice.  The fresh ginger will contain higher levels of gingerol.  Most supermarkets carry the mature ginger which will have the skin that you need to peel. Young ginger is more often found in Asian markets and this ginger skin does not need to be peeled.  Fresh ginger can be stored in your fridge for up to 3 weeks if left unpeeled.  You can also store it in your freezer unpeeled for up to 6 months. 

For cooking, if added in the beginning of the cooking process, it will add a subtle flavor while adding it at the end of cooking will lend the dish a more pungent taste. 

  • For nausea: make ginger tea by steeping 1 or 2 ½ inch slices of ginger in a cup of hot water.
  • For arthritis: ¼ an inch (or more) cooked in food. (The more you use the quicker your relief may be)
  • Add it to rice dishes
  • Mix ginger with coconut aminos and garlic to make a sauce for stir fry
  • Add ginger to your oil and vinegar salad dressing
  • Add it to sautéed vegetable dishes.
  • Mince a teaspoon and add to your regular tea
  • Add to marinades, stews and soups
  • Add some to your morning smoothie
  • You can add in ginger supplementation in capsule form or in tincture form.

When to Use Caution

  • Don’t give to children under 2 years of age.
  • If you have a sensitive stomach, take ginger with some food in your belly.
  • In adults, do not take more than 4 grams per day
  • Pregnant women should only consume up to 1 gram per day.
  • Avoid ginger supplementation if you are on blood thinner
  • If you are on diabetic meds, ginger can reduce blood sugar levels.
  • If you are on blood pressure meds, it can reduce your blood pressure.
  • Always talk to your doctor if adding ginger in as a supplement to your diet since some meds can interact with herbs.

Food for Thought: 

From reading some of the cautions above, it makes me wonder, wouldn’t it be better to use herbs to say lower blood pressure or blood sugar instead of a med that comes with side effects? What do you think?

 

Sources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage/php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/ginger

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK927775

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15630214

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3016669/#!po=67.6471

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/ibuprofen-kills-more-so-what-alternatives

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18813412

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4277626/

Balch, P. ( 2012)   Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition.  NY: Avery Publishing

Gaby, A.(2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and updated 3rd edition.  NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism. (2003) The science and practice of herbal medicine.  VT: Healing Arts   

   Press.

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum. NJ: Herbacy Press

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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21 Reasons to avoid Energy drinks

21 Reasons to Avoid Energy drinks

energy-drink-picture

Many young adults (18-35 y/o range) can be seen walking around holding a can of pure caffeine and sugar.  More often than not these cans contain more than one serving and who really drinks only half a can?  What is this doing to your health and could it have long term consequences?

Read on to find out!

Here is why I think energy drinks are a bad idea. 

You want to work out but are tired and need some motivation and energy so you take an energy drink

person-holding-chest

  • This can be deadly, especially if you are under a great deal of stress or have high blood pressure.
  • The number of hospital visits related to energy drinks has doubled from 2007-2011. 
  • It can make your heart race, cause palpitations, and increase you blood pressure and even lead to seizures and heart attacks. 
  • You don’t need that much sugar before you work- out.  An energy drink serving can have up to 10 teaspoons of sugar (40 grams).  Opt for a natural source of sugar and energy instead-have a banana or handful or grapes.

Instead of coffee just drink an energy drink or energy shot, right?

Wrong!  One leading brand of energy drink shots tops out at 570 mg. of caffeine.  This is way too much caffeine for your body to handle, especially in one large gulp! 

This much caffeine can lead to severe adrenal depletion.  This sets you up for a vicious cycle of that leads to more fatigue which means you need more and more caffeine to get through the day. If you are this low on energy and need this much caffeine it is time to look at root causes instead of managing your symptoms. 

The amount of caffeine in common energy drinks is 5 times the amount in a cup of coffee and 10 times the amount in a serving of soda. 

However, if you do want to start reducing your caffeine intake, don’t go cold turkey.  You will end up with terrible withdrawal effects from your daily habit.  Instead wean off slowly such as pouring a little bit out of each can you drink and every few days pouring out a little more.  If you go cold turkey you will end up with terrible headaches and brain fog for several days. 

If you need this much caffeine, ask yourself why?  Usually if you are using caffeine as a crutch there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.  While a picture on one website for energy drinks would have you thinking it is normal for everyone to have a 3o’clock slump and need a pick me up, this is  not normal to need caffeine to get through each and every day. 

But the label says it has all these herbs and vitamins and amino acids in it so it must be healthy for me!

Sorry there is no nutritional value in a sugary, caffeinated beverage. Don’t be fooled by the marketing! Energy drinks are actually labeled as dietary supplements but they are anything but that.  It is estimated that sales of Energy drinks in the US have brought them a market worth 12.5 billion and sales of these harmful drinks continues to grow. 

There have been cases of teenagers dying from the effects of too much consumption and it caused them to go into cardiac arrest.  So ask yourself, it is worth it?

  Yes, I know it mentions all these herbs it contains.  Most likely the herbs are in very small quantities and not in the right forms to provide you with any benefit. If you are looking for the benefits of the herbs then work with a nutrition/herb professional who can provide you with the best herbs for you and in the right forms. Herbs can also interact with medications so always work with a professional when ingesting herbs. 

The same applies to the vitamin and amino acids. The odds are they are using very poor quality forms which are difficult for the body to absorb.  And if you are only absorbing a very small amount then the odds are the benefits from them are doing you no good. Get your supplements from natural food sources instead. 

Can I substitute my morning smoothie with an energy drink?

smoothie

You can if you want to stay on the viscous cycle of being wired and tired all the time and continue to destroy your health over time. 

If your usual smoothie is loaded with fruit then it may be better than an energy drink but still not a great choice. Don’t start your day with sugar.  Instead make a protein veggie smoothie.  For instance, water, protein powder, ¼ of an avocado, ¼ of a frozen banana, large handfuls of dark leafy greens, tablespoon of hemp seeds and/or nut butter.  You want energy-give your body what it really needs. It does not need caffeine and sugar.  If you think it does, then your body is trying to tell you something! Listen to it. 

Pros and cons of drinking energy drinks

Pros: None I can think of. I wish they didn’t even exist. 

Cons

  1. Dangerous when combined with alcohol or stimulants such as ADHD meds (Adderall, Ritalin)
  2. There is little scientific evidence that their “proprietary formulas” give someone a physical and/or mental edge.
  3. Anxiety
  4. Headaches
  5. Heart attacks, strokes
  6. 8-11% of those who are caffeine dependent show signs of depression
  7. Seizures
  8. High blood pressure
  9. Diabetes
  10. No nutritional value-empty calories, takes place of nutrient dense foods
  11. Irritability
  12. The caffeine inhibits the activity of folate, B6 and B12
  13. It can cause death
  14. Nausea, diarrhea
  15. The acids in the drinks can lead to tooth destruction, damage enamel, cause stomach damage, osteoporosis and bone fractures
  16. If it contains artificial sugar: this can lead to overconsumption as your brain is waiting for the calories to come along with the sweet taste and leads you to crave more sugar. 
  17. Premature aging
  18. Disrupts your gut flora (this alone is a major concern for mental, physical and immune health!)
  19. leads to low serotonin levels  (mood issues, depression)
  20. Dehydration
  21. Reduces cortisol levels (which can cause weakness, fatigue, anxiety, heart palpitations, depression, unable to cope with stress)

So as you can see, that energy drink to help you get through the day is not helping you but rather hurting you.  Zero pros to drinking them, 21 cons to drinking them; the choice is yours. 

 

Sources

Andrews, R. (nd) All about energy drinks.  http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-drinks.

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Greenfield, B. (7/09) I don’t approve of Energy drinks.  https://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2009/07/i-dont-approve-of-energy-drinks-and-a-bonus-video/

Meier, B. (1/12/13) More Emergency Room visits linked to Energy Drinks.  http;//www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/business/more-emergency-room-visits-linked-to-energy-drinks-report-says.html.  

Stone, I. (3/17/14) Link between emergency room visits and energy drinks.  http://www.topmastersinhealthcare.com/link-between-emergency-room-visits-and-energy-drinks/

Gaille, B. (nd) Energy Drink Industry Statistics and Trends.  http://brandongaille.com/26-energy-drink-statistics-and-trends/

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions.  For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Coconut Sugar vs. White Sugar: The Facts

Coconut Sugar versus White sugar

Which is the healthier option?

You May be surprised by my response

sugar

 

I read numerous nutrition articles, research articles and health books weekly if not daily.    Most of the information is very helpful and informative.

Usually it leads me to ask more questions which then lead me to more research. Along the way I stumble upon some blogs-some very good ones and some really bad ones. 

This blog post is created because of a blog I read on “Ways to Alter Recipes to make them Healthier” This was written by someone called “Dr. Donna” but no other information about her was provided. 

While the article had many errors (and a few good points) the comment that made me laugh was this:

“Commit to NO sugar in a recipe.  You can do this by using coconut sugar instead”

Hmmm, last time I checked coconut SUGAR is still sugar!

What concerns me is that her post has been viewed over 46,000 times in the past year since it was posted!  How many of those people now have chronic health conditions due to their “sugarless coconut sugar” eating. 

I’m sorry, what did she not understand in the wording “coconut sugar”

I admit that I use coconut sugar in some of my baked good recipes. BUT I would never mislead my guests or clients and say “here, try some of my no sugar added cookies!” 

The Facts

  • Some tout coconut sugar to have a lower glycemic index than regular processed/refined white sugar.  But if you look at the research, only a couple of studies have been done and on only a handful of people.  One study was done by a government that is one of the largest producers of coconut sugar in the world.
  • Studies vary saying coconut sugar has a glycemic index anywhere from 35 to 54.  (White sugar is around 60).  For me, I need to see more research. 
  • Coconut sugar is higher in some minerals as opposed to white sugar BUT….
  • In order to get the nutrient benefits from coconut sugar you would have to eat A LOT of it!  Eat whole foods instead. 
  • Regular table sugar is 50% fructose, 50% glucose.  You may see claims that coconut sugar is fructose free but in reality it is roughly 40% fructose.  Fructose gets processed by the liver and the excess get stored as fat.  Fructose contributes to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and in my opinion, mental health issues and systemic inflammation as well. 
  • Coconut sugar does contain some inulin which is a prebiotic fiber.  Again, how much do you need to consume to reap the benefits? Eat raw onion, raw garlic, raw asparagus and not overly ripe bananas for your prebiotic fiber instead!
  • Some coconut sugar products are not 100% coconut sugar but instead a blend with cane sugar.  Know your products or ask someone who does know which products to use!
  • If you are diabetic you should treat the consumption of coconut sugar the same as consuming refined white sugar. 
  • While it may be the better choice than white sugar, it can still impact your liver and blood sugar health.
  • If you opt for coconut sugar, use it in small, limited quantities, not part of your daily intake. 
  • It has the same amount of calories as white sugar.

 

Bottom Line

Coconut sugar is still a sugar. It is a better option that GMO white processed sugar for the occasional baked good but don’t be misled. It is still sugar.  Use it as an occasional treat instead. 

Coconut is a great source for healthy fats but in the form of coconut oil. Fat gives food its flavor. I make banana bread that really does not have any added sugar!  What gives it a great taste is the coconut oil and the bananas provide all the sweetness that you need. 

Final Thoughts

There is so much information on the web and unfortunately much of it can do more harm than good. Always check the sources of the information provided and do further research. If you are still unsure, bring the information to a qualified professional in that subject area to get their take on the information. 

I always research products and information. Most product companies that stand behind their products and their words are more than happy to respond to you and share more information.  I email and call companies all the time! 

Sadly (for me, not for her!) there was nowhere to comment at the end of “Dr. Debbie’s” post to let her know of the error but I’m sure she is glad that I was unable to comment! 

 

Sources

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Gunnars, K. (nd) Coconut Sugar-Healthy Sugar Alternative or a Big, Fat Lie? https://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-sugar/

Perlmutter, D. (nd) Coconut Palm Sugar-What’s the Skinny? http://www.drperlmutter.com/coconut-palm-sugar-whats-skinny/

Virgin, JJ. (8/18/14) Coconut Sugar: Healthier Sweetener of Another Pretty Name for Sugar? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jj-virgin/coconut-sugar-healthier-s_b_5669084.html

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions.  For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com

As a nutrition professional, Karen Brennan does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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