FOOD MATTERS Medicinal Foods: Garlic and Ginger
These two flavorful treasures are superstar therapeutic foods to have on hand in your kitchen
Throat a little sore? Stomach upset? Head to the kitchen for some healing.
What should you do when you have a sore throat or experience an upset stomach or intestinal gas? If you plan ahead, all you have to do is look no further than your kitchen pantry for therapeutic help.
Two especially medicinal foods to have on hand, especially during the colder autumn/ winter months, are fresh garlic and ginger root. Not only do these two historically prized foods add incredible fl avor and aroma to many diff erent kinds of dishes, they can be used either as regular health boosters to include in the diet or as instant remedies to help relieve a wide variety of conditions.
While garlic and ginger are available in dried powder and supplement form, both are more eff ective, medicinally speaking, in fresh form. And the fact that they make fl avorful additions to a variety of dishes doesn’t hurt. Here’s a look at these two kitchen medicine superstars.
Health Benefi ts: Garlic has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for many
diff erent ailments, including intestinal disorders, fl atulence, worms, respiratory infections, skin diseases, wounds, and symptoms of aging. Modern research indicates that garlic may help improve heart health in a number of diff erent ways. It is a blood thinner that helps to lower both high blood pressure and blood triglycerides. Garlic also has anti- infl ammatory properties— one particular study identifi ed four diff erent sulfur compounds in garlic that help reduce infl ammation.
Several population studies also show an association between an increased intake of garlic and a reduced risk of certain cancers, including colon, stomach, esophagus, pancreas, and breast cancer. Addition- ally, garlic is a triple threat against infections, off ering antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Garlic has even been found to be eff ective at killing antibiotic- resistant bacteria, including MRSA.
Integrative medicine expert Andrew Weil, MD, recommends eating several cloves of raw garlic at the fi rst onset of symptoms as an eff ective home remedy for the common cold. To make it more palatable, chop garlic fi ne and mix it into food.
Health Benefi ts: Ginger root has a long history of being used as medicine in Asian, Indian, and Arabic herbal traditions. In China, for example, ginger has been used to aid digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 2,000 years. Ginger also has been used to help treat arthritis, colic, flatulence, motion sickness, morning sickness, painful menstrual periods, and the common cold. Ginger is an eff ective anti- nausea agent, likely because of its carminative eff ect, which helps break up and expel intestinal gas.
Ginger contains potent anti- infl ammatory compounds called gingerols and helps treat some infl ammatory conditions. Daily ginger use has been found eff ective for relieving muscle pain following strenuous exercise, and also has provided relief from pain and swelling in patients suff ering from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or general muscular discomfort. In addition, a study in Cancer Prevention Research found that regular supplementation with ginger led to reductions in infl ammation markers in the colon within just a month, suggesting that ginger may have potential as a colon cancer prevention agent.
In ayurvedic tradition, ginger is thought to warm the body and help break down accumulation of toxins in the organs, particularly in the lungs and sinuses. It can help promote healthy sweating, which can assist detoxifi cation during colds and fl us. Plus, research has found fresh ginger eff ective against the human respiratory syncytial virus.