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The benefits of this true superfood

By Jennifer Miller

With fall officially here, there is more on the horizon than college football and changing leaves. Germs. I don’t need to remind you all the yuckies our kids bring home from school and sports. We all do our best to keep them at bay. I am a big believer in all the vitamins and supplements, drinking all the water, and doing my best to get a decent amount of sleep. Like many of you, as a busy parent, I don't have time to get sick, so I’ll do whatever I can to up my immune system. I’ve been so lucky to work in an office that supplies me with daily ginger shots. The benefits of this spicy little root are many, and I won’t let a day go by now without a shot of ginger.

Ginger is a flowering plant that originated in Southeast Asia. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae family, which is closely related to turmeric and cardamom. While its flowers are a beautiful yellow leafy assortment, it’s the root that is most commonly used. Ginger comes in many forms, the most popular being fresh, dried, powdered or, my personal favorite, juiced. With a lightly spicy and unique taste and smell from its most important bioactive component, gingerol, it’s a popular spice as well as medicinal. Ginger has a long and deep history in traditional and alternative medicine. Its medicinal usage dates all the way back to more than 2,000 years ago in ancient China. Now its many benefits are backed by science.

Most commonly, ginger is used for all things stomach related. It is highly effective in reducing the effects of nausea and vomiting. Most commonly it is prescribed to pregnant women as a safe cure or curb for morning sickness, and is also a favorite among travelers for motion sickness. Even just holding ginger oil up to my nose during a bout of car sickness works wonders. Ginger is also prescribed to chemotherapy patients to help reduce its side effects. It’s also found to help ease the pain of menstrual cycles due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Those anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are the key components in ginger's immune-boosting properties. Ginger has been shown to help ward off germs (due to having antibacterial and antiviral properties), and stop the growth of E. coli and viruses like RSV. Adding ginger to your diet, or any other anti-inflammatory food or drink, can help enhance your immune system. Adding in other key ingredients like lemon or honey can also help boost immune response.

My favorite way to get my daily dose of ginger is through a custom ginger shot, which are usually available at most local health stores. I also love to make ginger tea, especially during the chilly fall and winter months. Using grated or powdered ginger, I simply add hot water to honey, half of a fresh squeezed lemon, and a little turmeric on top for added benefits and flavor. Stir it all up for a warm drink on these fall days.

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