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The properties and uses of ginger, an ally in sport

With a pungent and slightly spicy flavor with a hint of lemon, ginger may just be a must-have for athletes. Let's find out why.

Every self-respecting superhero has a secret ingredient to help them in times of need, and for athletes and sporty types of the new millennium, this superpower seems to lie in ginger. Ginger is a root which is famous above all for its fragrance, freshness and the lively, slightly sparkling after-taste that is often used to enrich the taste of drinks. Ginger root is elongated and lumpy, with a color that varies from brown to pale yellow. In short, when it comes to appearance, it's anything but appetizing, and yet its properties are revolutionizing not only the world of cooking, but also the sporting and health-related habits of all of us. 

The nutritional properties of ginger

Ginger, which is increasingly used as a spice in various dishes or drinks, is rich in vitamins (A, B6 and C, to be precise) and mineral salts (mainly potassium and magnesium, but also calcium, sodium and iron). Not only that – the substances that ginger contains are excellent antioxidants and provide protection against free radicals, and it is the combination of all these properties that makes ginger so unique.

To sum up, then, it appears that ginger is a must-have spice, a core ingredient in the diet of every healthy lifestyle professional. As with all foods that suddenly seem to shoot to fame as a panacea for all evils and begin to appear in the recipe books on everyone's bookshelf, however, it is a good idea to dispel any false myths, in order to focus on the scientific, verified facts.

All-round well-being

It is true that ginger does have precious qualities that can enhance the well-being of our bodies. These include the use of ginger to treat sea sickness or severe post-operative or post-pregnancy stomach pains, where chewing this spice comes highly recommended. The reason for this is simple: the substances that ginger contains seem to be able to speed up the digestive processes, protecting the stomach's gastric mucosa and thus reducing acidity.

Ginger also has an effect on the immune system: it helps the body to guard against seasonal illnesses such as influenza. All you need to do is pour some boiling water into a cup along with a chunk of ginger, and you have an excellent remedy for colds, sore throats, fever and bronchitis.

It is scientifically proven that chewing ginger can help those who often suffer from headaches. Indeed, the root is one of the best natural anti-inflammatories out there, in that its antihistaminic molecules act as an analgesic and, as a result, diminish our perception of pain.

Finally, below are the three properties that have made ginger the mythical food favored by so many athletes: it is perfect for combating stress, it is a powerful slimming aid, and it reduces the intensity of muscle pain.

Ginger to burn fat

It is often said that ginger is ideal for all those whose ultimate sporting goal is to lose weight. So if summer is approaching and our indulgences have far outweighed our sporting achievements, this extraordinary root could provide a valuable helping hand.

Obviously, ginger can't work miracles, but when eaten as part of a balanced diet between workout sessions, it could prove useful for burning fat. Ginger has a thermogenic effect, which means that it produces heat and, as a result, enables your body to burn calories faster and more effectively. Finally, for those prone to gluttony, it is important to remember that ginger can also help reduce appetite, hence why it has become part of every low-calorie diet out there.

Reducing the effects of pain and stress

Another of the properties of this wonder root seems to make ginger the perfect match for sport: it seems that nothing can relax our body like an exercise session followed by a good hit of ginger.

In the shops, this marvelous food can be found in various guises (and it's always a good idea to consume it in moderation): in the form of a root to be chewed, in herbal teas, as a dried spice, in liquid shots or even in tablets. Already widely used in Chinese medicine in the form of compresses due to its ability to radiate heat, ginger is gaining credibility in the medical field in the West too, as it is able to promote the re-oxygenation of tissues and reach deep into painful areas of annoying muscle spasms. Is ginger the secret to an increasingly powerful snatch in weightlifting?

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