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The effect of ginger on diabetics

Der Effekt von Ingwer auf Diabetiker - Dr. Ginger
Ginger is available in many forms: raw, ginger powder, ginger tea, candied and chocolate coated, ginger liqueur and other uses. But not everyone likes this aromatic spice. Perhaps people who have not previously been interested in ginger should reconsider incorporating the hot spice into one recipe or another.

Regular use of ginger could be interesting for diabetics. As an Iranian university study has shown, regular consumption of ginger has a positive effect on fasting blood sugar levels. But that's not all: Ginger also has a positive effect on blood lipid levels and hemoglobin A1c levels.

What is ginger traditionally used for?

In many countries, ginger is part of numerous dishes. It is one of the most used kitchen spices. The tuber with the unusual aroma adds a lemony-tasting spiciness to many Indian, Chinese, Thai or Iranian recipes. As a candied treat and ginger liqueur, ginger is a popular treat. 

From a medical point of view, the ginger root is also a perennial favorite. Traditional medicine uses ginger for the adjunctive therapy of various diseases such as diabetes and asthma, rheumatic diseases or arthritis and diseases of the nervous system. In addition, ginger in the form of tablets or capsules is a popular remedy for travel sickness.

What was the purpose of the Iranian ginger study?

Researchers from the University of Tehran wanted to take a closer look at the alternative medical use of ginger for type 2 diabetes. The question was whether ginger has a measurable value in the accompanying therapy and whether it can have a positive influence on the blood values ​​that are important for diabetics. The aim of the Iranian study was to take ginger and check the blood sugar, blood fat and glucose levels of patients with diabetes over a period of ten weeks. The participating subjects were selected at random. At the end, 50 female and male study participants from different age groups were available.

The subjects were divided into two groups for the placebo-based study: the first took a high-dose ginger preparation with 2,000 milligrams of ginger powder, the other an ineffective placebo. The blood values ​​were analyzed daily. Blood pressure, body weight and BMI were recorded as basic values. Diabetes-specific values ​​were then recorded: fasting blood sugar and long-term blood sugar (HbA1c), as well as triglyceride values. Elevated triglyceride levels indicate the risk of thrombosis, a disturbed lipid metabolism, obesity or the risk of developing arteriosclerosis.

The cholesterol levels HDL and LDL were also determined. The calculated quotient, which indicates the ratio of bad to good cholesterol, was important here. From this one can read the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases as a consequence of diabetes as a result of bad cholesterol levels. The ratio between HDL and LDL must be such that HDL clearly predominates. A low HDL/LDL ratio reduces the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Can Ginger Lower Risks of Cardiovascular Disease?

According to the results of the Iranian study, daily intake of ginger in the stated dosage can significantly improve fasting blood sugar. The long-term blood sugar levels also showed a significant improvement. This means that ginger preparations in sufficiently high doses make sense as an adjunctive therapy for type 2 diabetes. However, it is critical to note that this result still needs to be verified. Given the small number of subjects and the short duration of the study, it cannot be said with certainty what the value of co-treatment with ginger actually is. 

International long-term studies with large numbers of test subjects must now provide precise insights into the mode of action of the hot root. So it will be years before there is definitive certainty about the mode of action of ginger in type 2 diabetes. For example, the question remains open as to whether the dosage chosen for this study is optimal or whether different dosages would have to be used in the presence of certain diabetic comorbidities. In addition, it must be clarified whether ginger powder is more effective than fresh ginger root.

Ginger and its effect on cholesterol levels

A second finding resulting from the Iranian study is the effect of ginger supplements on the LDL/HDL quotient. The subjects who took the ginger supplement had remarkably better cholesterol levels. After taking 2,000 milligrams of ginger daily, everyone was able to lower their LDL/HDL quotient, regardless of BMI, age and body weight. Thus, an accompanying treatment with ginger preparations could minimize the risks of sleep attacks, heart attacks, the development of arteriosclerosis or diabetes-related cardiovascular diseases. These results must also be verified by long-term studies in order to be generally valid.

Diabetics can hope for further insights

If the regular intake of 2,000 milligrams of ginger has such a positive effect on several levels, it is proven once again that nutritional measures are more important in the treatment of serious lifestyle diseases than conventional medicine or the pharmaceutical industry would have us believe. If certain foods can negatively affect blood sugar and blood lipid levels, others can have the opposite effect. 

Nutritional medicine measures have an unbeatable advantage over synthetic medicines: They are present in a natural combination of all the nutrients that the organism needs to absorb them. It is advisable to incorporate ginger into recipes as often as possible. Candied ginger and ginger liqueur do not have the same medicinal properties as ginger powder. Nevertheless, they focus on ginger as a luxury and medicinal product. We can be curious to see which insights can still be found with possible uses for diabetics.
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