Your parents may have conditioned you to believe that ginger ale was the remedy for an upset stomach, however, it turns out the soft drink may not be as magical as you were led to believe—we know, you’ve most likely been living a lie for well, your whole life. To debunk the infamous theory that ginger ale is the number one cure for a stomach ache, we consulted Maryann Walsh, MFN, RD, CDE to find out the truth about the supposed healing powers of ginger ale, once and for all.
How does ginger cure a stomach ache?
“The basic explanation of how ginger cures a stomach ache is that it has spasmolytic properties,” says Walsh. She explains that ginger works to calm the spasms that occur in the smooth muscle, which is the type of muscle found in the stomach and other organs that comprise the digestive system. Walsh says that these spasms are likely what’s causing your stomach to be in pain.
“Ginger is also known as an antiemetic, meaning it is a remedy for nausea and vomiting as well, which can often accompany a stomach ache,” she says.
So, does that mean ginger ale has the same ability to cure a stomach ache?
“Many [people] choose to sip on ginger ale when they have a stomach ache and claim they feel relief, and that may be true, however, because soda manufacturers don’t usually indicate the amount of ginger in each serving of ginger ale, there’s no way of knowing if you are truly receiving what is considered an effective dose of ginger,” explains Walsh.
Not to mention, one 12-ounce can of Canada Drypacks a whopping 35 grams of added sugar—that’s about 9 teaspoons worth of the sweet stuff. For context, the American Heart Association suggests consuming no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day if you’re a woman and no more than 36 grams if you’re a man. As far as we’re concerned, all of that added sugar, coupled with the carbonation of the fizzy pop will just make your stomach feel even worse. Ginger ale issoda after all, and we all know the dangers that come with frequently guzzling back soda.
What would be an effective way to reap the benefits of ginger?
Walsh says the best way for someone to experience ginger’s healing powers is to buy ginger in its purest state, which would either be in its root form or freshly minced in the produce section.
“Remember to check with your doctor prior to using ginger as it may interact with some medications,” advises Walsh.
What other natural remedies can cure or at least alleviate stomach ache symptoms?
“Research has shown that peppermint oil can be effective for reducing and aiding an upset stomach,” says Walsh. “Similar to how ginger works to relax smooth muscles, peppermint does the same, therefore sipping on mint tea may prove to be helpful for those experiencing stomach pains.”
Now you know the truth about ginger ale, you’re better off noshing on some fresh ginger rather than guzzling back a can of the bubbly stuff.
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