Known primarily as an aid to digestion and a treatment for inflammation, ginger is a beneficial addition to a weight-loss program aimed at reducing belly fat and obtaining a flat tummy. Belly fat accumulates for various reasons, including overeating, age-related hormone reduction, lack of exercise and stress. Consumption of ginger, Zingiber offinale, addresses each of these problems. Ask your doctor before taking large amounts of ginger, which may be contraindicated in certain medical conditions. Taking ginger without reducing calories or exercising won't reduce belly fat.
As a digestive aid, ginger can reduce appetite through its regulatory effects on blood sugar and serum cholesterol. A 2006 article in the "British Journal of Nutrition" cites raw ginger as having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, cholesterol and lipids. A few slices of fresh ginger simmered in a cup of water and consumed before a meal stimulates digestion. Studies are not conclusive, but hot water appears to increase the benefits of the tea, according to Dr. Susan Brown in her article "Ten Steps to Better Digestion."
According to an article in the "Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin" of 2004, ginger suppresses cortisol production. Dr. Len Kravitz defines cortisol as a steroid hormone necessary to energy regulation and mobilization. But chronic stress can cause cortisol levels to rise too high. Adipose fat moves to the visceral area where it receives an increased blood supply that encourages tissues to produce an excess amount of cortisol. High cortisol levels may increase excess belly fat and weight gain.
Ginger is among the group of herbs and spices regarded as stimulants, having an effect similar to caffeine. Consume no more than 4 grams, or 2 teaspoons, of ginger per day, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends. Pregnant women should take no more than 1 gram per day. Increased energy makes it easier to exercise and put more pep in your step, which will help you burn calories and flatten your tummy.
Start your digestive fires in the morning with a cup or two of ginger-lemon-honey tea. Heat 4 cups of water. Place a grape-size piece of fresh, peeled ginger in the pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the juice of one lemon and a heaping tablespoon of raw honey. Sip at least two cups of this tea throughout the day for the benefits of ginger in regulating metabolism, stimulating digestion, reducing cortisol production and increasing energy.
- Better Bones: Ten Steps to Better Digestion
- The British Journal of Nutrition: Anti-diabetic and Hypolipidaemic Properties of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in Streptozotocin-induced Diabetic Rats
- University of New Mexico: Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight
- Holisticonline.com: Ayurvedic Remedies for Obesity
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Ginger
- Biological and Phamaceutical Bulletin: Comparison of the Effects of Sho-hange-ka-bukuryo-to and Nichin-to on Human Plasma Adrenocorticotropic Hormone and Cortisol Levels with Continual Stress Exposure.