First, why you may want more ginger in your diet
Ginger comes in many forms, but the ginger plant’s roots are what is commonly used as both a spice or ingredient in cooking and for medicinal purposes as a supplement. “Ginger is excellent for promoting health longevity because it contains compounds known as gingerols and shogaols, which create an antioxidant effect that reduces free radical damage in the body,” Trista Best, MS, RD, previously told Well+Good.
You can slice or grate fresh ginger to add to soups or sauces, use powdered forms as a seasoning on veggies, top a mocktail with candied ginger for flare, use pickled variations in poke bowls, drink it in the form of ginger tea, or take it as a supplement.
The root is known to “support digestive health by improving gastric motility and by helping to relieve bloating and gastrointestinal discomfort by reducing gas production,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It. “It also has anti-inflammatory properties to help support heart health and relieve symptoms of arthritis,” says Taub-Dix, adding that the root can help quell nausea and stabilize blood sugar levels.
When can ginger be bad for you?
While ginger is generally considered safe to ingest and despite all the its advantages, there are instances where someone may want to limit their intake or avoid it entirely, says Kyle Staller, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association. (Whether you just simply keep an eye on your daily intake or decide to cut it out of your diet altogether is a conversation you should have with a healthcare provider, as the individual risks and dosage varies widely, according to Dr. Staller.)
The most noteworthy concern is for those with bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, where the blood doesn’t clot properly, says Dr. Staller. “Ginger has mild anticoagulant, or blood-thinning, properties, which means it may increase the risk of bleeding,” he says.
What medication does ginger interfere with?
Because of its anticoagulant nature, anyone taking blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin or aspirin, or antiplatelet medications for heart health, such as clopidogrel, will also want to exercise caution. “Combining ginger with these medications can potentially amplify the effects and may lead to excessive bleeding or bruising,” explains Dr. Staller.
What’s more, “ginger may lower blood sugar levels, so individuals with diabetes should monitor their blood glucose levels closely if consuming large amountsor taking ginger supplements,” says Dr. Staller. While it’s recommended to consult your doctor before starting any supplement regimen—whether you have potential contraindications or not—those currently taking diabetes medication, such as insulin or oral antidiabetic drugs, who are also taking ginger, should talk to their provider about whether the dosage of their diabetes medicine should be adjusted.
It can also potentially cause complications during pregnancy
Studies also indicate that while ginger is effective at quelling nausea in pregnant women, you will want to limit the amount of ginger you eat while pregnant as the anticoagulant effects can put the mother at greater risk for miscarriage. It’s best to consult a doctor about your options, ginger included, if you are experiencing morning sickness while expecting.
Anyone with GI issues should also consume ginger with caution
Those with a history of GERD or acid reflux should keep an eye on their ginger intake, as ginger can cause heartburn and worsen gastric reflux, says Reuben Chen, MD, sports medicine physician and international chief medical advisor at Sunrider.
People with high blood pressure should also beware…but not for the reason you may think.
If you’ve been wondering: Does ginger raise blood pressure? You’re not alone—it’s a frequently asked questions in terms of when not to take ginger. But the answer is now. In fact, some studies, such as 2019 research published in Phytotherapy Research, have indicated that ginger may lower blood pressure, which in itself is not a concern. However, “if you are taking medications to control high blood pressure, combining them with ginger could further decrease blood pressure levels, potentially causing excessive lowering of blood pressure,” says Dr. Staller, though more research is needed.
How much ginger is too much?
Most people can safely eat ginger daily without overdoing it, but those at risk for excessive bleeding will want to cap their intake to no more than four grams a day, says Dr. Staller. Those with acid reflux concerns should divide these doses as to reduce the gastric side effects of ginger, adds Dr. Chen. Again anyone with diabetes, bleeding disorders, are on blood thinners should exercise caution and speak with their doctor before adding ginger to their diet. Meanwhile, pregnant women should limit their ginger to no more than one gram a day, says Dr. Staller.
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