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Can Ginger Slow Ageing? What We Know So Far

Posted on 11 September 2020

When it comes to ageing, two drivers of age-related disease go hand-in-hand: oxidative stress and inflammation. Molecules called free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) are a normal product of the chemical reactions that occur within cells, and are usually mopped up by antioxidants. However, as we age, our cells’ ability to keep ROS at bay declines. Unchecked ROS can damage proteins, DNA, and other components vital for cells, potentially leading to their death. This in turn causes inflammation, which is a major driver of age related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases.

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Free radicals pull electrons off other molecules, which can cause them to break apart. Antioxidants remove free radicals by donating their own electrons instead.

Ginger is a herb that can potentially counter oxidative stress and inflammation. It contains 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol, two major active components with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. But is ginger actually effective at preventing or ameliorating age-related diseases? In this paper, researchers reviewed the evidence as it stands. Here are their key findings:

  • Ginger has been widely studied with cell culture, in animals and in humans.
  • In animals, ginger appears to slow the progression of ageing in several organs, including the heart, the lungs and the brain.
  • Studies support the idea that ginger supplementation can improve cognitive function in both animals and elderly humans.
  • Ginger appears to protect animals against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, but whether this holds true in humans is unclear.
  • Ginger supplementation appears to be beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes (by improving the response to sugar), rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (by reducing inflammation and relieving pain).
  • In animal models, ginger can protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure, ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and inflammation, and results in a reduction in the size of fatty deposits in the arteries. There is evidence that at least one of these effects (namely blood pressure reduction) extends to humans as well.

The authors conclude that there is good evidence that ginger lowers inflammation and has antioxidant effects, and has potential as an anti-ageing supplement. However, research is currently limited to certain age-related diseases, particularly when it comes to human studies. For example, we don’t know the effects of ginger on muscular diseases, which are a major concern for elderly people. There is also a need for further studies that investigate optimal dosages, as well as the exact mechanisms by which ginger‘s active compounds act.


References

Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) in the Prevention of Ageing and Degenerative Diseases: Review of Current Evidence: doi: 10.1155/2019/5054395

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