Runs On Rides? Ginger is The Tummy Wonder Drug
Ginger is a bold, aromatic spice that once might’ve been only associated with the holiday season (think gingerbread) but has since made its way into mainstream health trends (such as drinking ginger tea or ginger water to aid digestion). And, it easily elevates baked goods, savory dishes, and drinks.
“Ginger is actually a plant, and the ginger spice that we use in cooking comes from the root of the plant,” says Amber Pankonin, M.S., RD, owner of Stirlist.
Not only is it delicious, it also has some awesome health benefits.
“Ginger has been traditionally known as a carminative or a substance that soothes the intestinal tract,” says Sonya Angelone, M.S., RDN, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “More recently, ginger has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects.”
It’s also a good source of phytonutrients (compounds produced naturally in plants).
“Ginger itself is not a great source of any one particular nutrient, but it does contain phytochemicals, which are found in both fresh and dried versions,” says Pankonin.
Benefits of Ginger
→ Ginger may help with wear and tear on joints.
In one study done on people with osteoarthritis, it was found that fresh ginger may help to lower pain and disability from arthritis.
“Since this is a condition of wear and tear, athletes may find that ginger can help knee pain, and it is safer than taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications,” Angelone.
→ It might help improve digestion in general.
Athletes can deal with a gamut of gut issues, from diarrhoea to constipation, which can impact your training.
Ginger has been shown to help to improve gastric motility, which basically means it can help with the movement of food from your mouth to the large intestine, says Pankonin. This one is important for runners because a healthy digestive system can help improve performance.
→ It may help treat migraines.
Ginger was shown to help reduce migraine pain as much as prescription medicine in this study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2014. Headaches are a pain for everyone, especially if they get in your way of training.
“A small amount of powdered ginger may do the trick and get them back on the road,” says Angelone.
→ Ginger can help reduce nausea.
Ginger has antiemetic properties that can increase gastric emptying (food emptying from the stomach to the small intestine). Basically, ginger works to improve the general health of your digestive tract, which could help alleviate nausea, says Pankonin.
→ It could help with menstrual cramps.
If cramps prevent you from logging your miles, ginger may help.
There has been some research that shows ginger may be effective in decreasing pain during the first three to four days of a menstrual cycle, says Pankonin.
→ Ginger may reduce inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger—gingerols and shogaols— may be helpful in aiding recovery after long runs when inflammatory chemicals settle in, says Angelone.
How Much Ginger Should I Eat?
To get the full benefits of ginger, you don’t need very much.
In general, the average recommendation is about 1 gram of real ginger per day to help relieve nausea, and this doesn’t count anything that comes from cookies or sodas, says Pankonin. There are ginger capsules available, but before adding any kind of ginger supplement, you should consult with your physician, as it might interfere with certain medications.
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When it comes to cooking, different forms of ginger may be best for certain dishes, according to Angelone.
Crystalised ginger, chopped: In tea (or in hot water to make a hot beverage), oatmeal, cookie recipes, apple/pear crisps, banana bread, pancakes, infused into maple syrup.
Ginger powder: It can be used most anywhere, especially when you want it blended.
Fresh ginger, grated: Hot water, tea, vegetables, stir fry, poached fish especially salmon, steamed rice (cook together).
And the type of ginger you use may also impact how much you use in recipes.
“Whenever you convert from a fresh spice to dried spice, the ratio 3:1. So, if your recipe called for 3 teaspoons of fresh ginger, you would only need 1 teaspoon of dried ginger,” says Pankonin.
The Best Ginger Recipes For Runners
Here are seven delicious ginger-filled recipes to help fuel you for your runs.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Pancakes
If you need the perfect holiday treat, try these whole wheat chocolate chip gingerbread pancakes. They are made with Greek yogurt for extra protein, making them the perfect recovery meal after a session, says Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN, and owner of Bucket List Tummy.
Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Chutney
This pork tenderloin with cherry chutney contains both lean protein and a good source of healthy carbohydrates from the cherry chutney—which also contains fresh ginger.
“The combination of carbs and lean protein provides a nutritious energy source for athletes,” says Pankonin.
Prerun Sweet Potato Ginger Energy Bites
These sweet potato ginger energy bites are a filled with antioxidants. They make a great anti-inflammatory snack for before, during, or after a ride, says Schlichter. The ginger can help alleviate any exercise-related nausea, and the sweet potatoes are a great carbohydrate option that’s easy on the stomach.
Easy Weeknight Quinoa Stir Fry
This quinoa stir fry will be a crowd favourite and chances are you might already have these ingredients in your pantry and fridge, says Pankonin. Plus, the addition of vegetables from the stir fry might even help reduce oxidative stress after long workouts.
Gingerbread Crockpot Oatmeal
This gingerbread crockpot oatmeal is a great make-ahead meal for a morning run, full of holiday flavours and carbohydrates for quick energy!” says Schlichter.
Sweet Potato Orange Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
If you’re in need of a good energy source to fuel up before a race without upsetting your stomach, try this sweet potato orange salad with honey mustard dressing recipe. It’s made with sweet potatoes (which contain vitamin A, and help support immune health) and ginger, which makes it a great meal, says Pankonin.
Easy Egg Noodle Stir-Fry with Veggies and Chicken
Looking for a quick 30-minute meal? This egg noodle stir-fry with veggies and chicken makes weeknight dinners easy, says Schlichter. The best part: it’s ready in one pan, and has the perfect blend of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables for optimal recovery and balanced macronutrients.