Ginger is one of our anti-inflammatory heroes. And prolonged inflammation and consequent tissue damage—whether it be to the digestive system as in IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) or other organ systems, like the nervous system in Multiple Sclerosis, or the thyroid in Hashimoto’s—are signature characteristics of autoimmune conditions.
With autoimmunity quickly on the rise, I advocate incorporating culinary anti-inflammatory medicinals, like ginger, wherever and whenever we can.
But it’s not just the immune system that can be helped by this hero. By reducing inflammation, we also turn back the hands of time and tap into our legacy for longevity.
Ginger has been considered a culinary medicinal for thousands of years and played an important role in traditional Chinese and Indian healing modalities. It’s been used cross-culturally to abate inflammation and pain, especially in the digestive tract.
Many of us are aware of the use of ginger for quelling nausea and a queasy stomach. In fact, clinical studies have shown it to be more effective than several over-the-counter anti-nausea medications.
While ginger is touted for its use in addressing several inflammatory conditions, from asthma to influenza to fibrocystic breasts, today my focus is on inflammation in the digestive system, which will affect every other system in the body. Digestive inflammation may appear in the form of gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, or reflux.
Ginger helps to fight this inflammation, cleanse the colon, and reduce spasms and cramps. It assists in remedying sores and wounds, which can appear on the inner skin of your digestive tract, as well as your outer skin.
There have been several studies measuring the inflammatory markers of mice with IBD. One study showed that ginger lowered those inflammatory compounds up to 73 percent!
And for those with kidney stones or who take anti-coagulants, please tread more lightly with the ginger, keeping it for your culinary purposes only.
Gingery Miso Fish Stew
In our house, we’re fans of soup any time of year and I could eat buckets of this light stew.
It will do the trick to alleviate what ails you as the weather shifts. Ginger is particularly healing this time of year because pungent flavors like ginger are great for digestion and soothing the fire, particularly the fires of inflammation. June is here and soup’s on!
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 onion, sliced into half moons
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons minced ginger
8 cups filtered water or stock (vegetable or chicken)
3 cups zucchini, cut into matchsticks
4 cups loosely chopped spinach
1 ½ pounds fresh halibut, rock fish, or other white fish cut into 1-inch cubes
Juice of 2 limes
½ cup coconut aminos (a soy-free seasoning sauce)
3 tablespoons chickpea miso
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
In a large pot, heat coconut oil on medium heat. Add onion and sea salt and sauté until completely soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, carrots, and ginger and sauté another few minutes until fragrant. Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes and then add zucchini and spinach. Simmer for 5–7 minutes more. Add fish and simmer another 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Add lime juice and coconut aminos. In a small dish, place miso and add some of the warm stock from the soup, stirring until thinned. Add miso back to the soup, stir in cilantro, and serve warm.
Recipe created by Andrea Livingston for Replenish PDX
With a career born of a personal family health crisis, functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama takes the idea of food as personalized medicine beyond a clinical practice. Her online programs at ReplenishPDX.com and HolisticNutritionLab.com guide her clients in taking ownership over their health. Info@replenishpdx.com.