Taking a closer look at gingerols and shogaols and their potential positive effect on inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response from the immune system to fight off harmful foreign invaders. In a healthy scenario, the immune system recognizes infection or injury and sends in white blood cells to produce signaling proteins and aid in healing. This healthy form of inflammation is known as “acute inflammation” and is brief, only lasting until the problem is resolved. However, the inflammatory response can also be triggered by more persistent issues, such as poor diet, obesity, stress and autoimmune conditions, causing “chronic inflammation”. Chronic inflammation is the dangerous form of inflammation, which is frequently referenced in health media and is linked with countless diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
One of ginger’s most studied and recognized health benefits is its ability to reduce inflammation in a chronic setting. The phytochemicals in ginger, gingerols and shogaols, inhibit the synthesis of molecules that promote inflammation, and several studies have evaluated the efficacy of ginger for the management of specific inflammatory diseases.
- In inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ginger was found to reduce inflammatory proteins and increase anti-inflammatory molecules. Ginger also assisted in repairing intestinal damage, prevented chronic colitis and reduced the risk for cancers associated with IBD.
- In obese mice, ginger was found to suppress the chronic inflammatory response in addition to reducing fat.
- Shogaols have been found to relieve neuro-inflammation in animal studies of dementia and may help to manage symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as well as other neurological conditions.
- Ginger has shown the ability to inhibit an inflammatory pathway involved in cancer called Nf-κB and has demonstrated preventive effects for cancers of the colon, stomach, ovaries, liver, skin, breast and prostate.
- In both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, ginger supplementation has been found to reduce inflammation and associated pain.
To get the full benefits of ginger it should be regularly included in a diet that is based in anti-inflammatory foods. Foods that promote inflammation and should be avoided include refined carbohydrates such as processed grains, excessive refined sugars, fried foods, processed meats, margarines and shortenings. Conversely, a Mediterranean diet style, rich in leafy green vegetables and fruit, moderate amounts of unprocessed carbohydrates, fish, pastured eggs, herbs and spices, has been found to reduce inflammation and prevent chronic diseases.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to incorporate ginger into an anti-inflammatory diet:
- Add The Ginger People® Organic Ginger Juice to a smoothie containing spinach, banana, blueberries, plain yogurt (or unsweetened coconut yogurt), and flax seeds.
- Blend turmeric root with The Ginger People® Organic Minced Ginger and cold water for a spicy and energizing morning elixir.
- Make a hearty salad, rich in leafy greens and fresh vegetables, and finish with a simple ginger dressing made from The Ginger People® Organic Minced Ginger, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, rice vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Add a splash of The Ginger People® Organic Ginger Juice to oatmeal, topped with fresh berries and cinnamon.
- Enjoy fish with a side of The Ginger People® Organic Sushi Ginger, (the only pickled ginger on the market without artificial sweeteners).
Alexandra Rothwell Kelly is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Public Health, currently residing in San Francisco. She received her undergraduate degree from New York University and completed her graduate studies at Mount Sinai. Alexandra has several years of experience in oncology nutrition at the Tisch Cancer Institute in New York and has performed clinical research in integrative medicine and health technology. She conducts individualized nutrition and lifestyle counseling with a focus on general wellness, chronic disease prevention and cancer survivorship.