Ginger ale is a popular carbonated soft drink flavored with ginger. But you may wonder if this well liked beverage is good or bad for you?
Is Ginger Ale Good or Bad for You?
While ginger ale doesn’t have as many health drawbacks as many other types and flavors of soda, it certainly isn’t something that you should be drinking daily. Like other sodas, ginger ale is sugary and its sugar content can lead to a whole host of health concerns if indulged in too regularly. Most ginger ale’s contain carbonated water, sugar/glucose-fructose, citric acid, natural flavors, and sodium benzoate.
Different brands and types of ginger ale have different levels of real ginger content. If you want to enjoy any of the benefits of ginger by occasionally enjoying ginger ale, make sure that the type you choose does indeed contain real ginger in significant amounts.
Generally speaking, there is not enough natural ginger content in commercial ginger ale to have a significant health benefit. To harness the health benefits of ginger, you can eat raw ginger, take ginger essential oil, drink ginger tea, or add ginger powder to foods and drinks. You can also take a ginger supplement in capsule form.
Why is Natural Ginger Good for You?
Ginger is a root vegetable that has a delicious warm and spicy taste. It has been used in food and beverages in a wide variety of cultures for centuries, and is recognized for having a number of health benefits.
Many people find ginger highly effective in addressing nausea and other digestive issues. This is why you might sip ginger ale when you have stomach flu. It is common for ginger to be used for problems such as nausea, bloating, constipation, and other issues of the gastrointestinal system.
It is believed that ginger helps to soothe and relax your gut lining’s smooth muscle, thus aiding food in making its way through your system as it should.
Ginger is also known to have antibacterial or antimicrobial properties. It was shown in a 2011 study to have the ability to boost immune system function. It is also anti-fungal. Perhaps even more surprisingly, ginger has also been established to be anti-cancer. In a University of Minnesota study, it was found that ginger was able to slow down the growth of colorectal cancer cells in mice lacking immune system function.
In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, ginger has long been used to help strengthen the immune system. In that system of thought, ginger’s efficacy in this respect is attributed to its ability to warm the body and break down toxins that might be in your organs. Ginger also helps to flush out the body’s lymphatic system.
Ginger has been recognized as a pain reliever. Apparently, ginger can have an effect on vanilloid receptors. These pain receptors are found on the endings of sensory nerves. Additionally, it has been found that ginger can help the body deal with ulcers in the gastrointestinal system. In a Molecular Nutrition and Food Research study, it was reported that ginger is more effective at treating ulcers than the most prevalent prescription medicine used for the problem.
What Are Ginger Ale’s Problematic Ingredients?
Like other sweet sodas, ginger ale tends to have a high sugar content. Sugar is linked to many health issues, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. As most of us know, it also leads to tooth decay. Tooth decay is much more than just a dental problem, as tooth and general mouth health impacts the well-being of the rest of the body in a variety of ways.
Some brands of ginger ale contain sodium benzoate, a chemical compound that acts as a preservative. There has been concern that this chemical might be detrimental to human health, possibly lessening the immune system’s effectiveness in guarding against the development of problems such as cancer.
Ginger also usually contains citric acid. Drinking excessive amounts of liquid with citric acid on a regular basis is bad for the teeth, as it causes acid wear and gradually breaks down tooth enamel. Too much citric acid can also irritate the digestive system. In people with sensitive bladders or other urinary issues, citric acid can cause irritation and soreness, as well.
Overweight and Obesity
Consuming sugary drinks such as ginger ale on a regular basis will add numerous calories to your daily diet. Over time, this will inevitably add up to extra weight, making you overweight or even obese.
Besides the obvious concerns we have about how being overweight or obese will affect our appearance, obesity is always detrimental to health on a variety of fronts. People who are overweight or obese are significantly more vulnerable to heart attack and other serious cardiovascular concerns, high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, certain kinds of cancer, various kinds of breathing or respiratory problems, and the development of type 2 diabetes. It is also believed that being overweight or obese has a generally negative effect on the health, making it harder for every physical system to act and react as it should.
Type 2 Diabetes
Excessive and prolonged consumption of sugar puts you at much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which the body fails to produce a sufficient amount of insulin (or if the insulin produced does not work as it should). When this happens, glucose levels rise dangerously in the blood. People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are most often older than 40 (and almost always over 25).
High sugar content in modern processed foods, however, is making it become more prevalent in people younger than 25 (including children). People from specific ethnic groups (for example, South Asian) tend to be at greater risk genetically, but you should be aware that anyone can develop this condition.
What Have We Learned?
While natural ginger root has a number of health benefits (such as soothing of the digestive system), many brands of ginger ale have very minimal real ginger content. If you want to get the benefits of ginger, try adding real ginger to your diet directly.
Ginger root can be purchased at any grocery store, and can be used in a multitude of ways. You could even make your own ginger tea by adding grated ginger to herbal tea. You can also add it to other kinds of beverages.
Commercially sold ginger ale is a delicious beverage but as a sugary soda it should really be only an occasional treat. Daily consumption of beverages (and foods) that are high in sugar and other chemicals will put you at risk of developing potentially serious health problems later on.
Please be aware that even though “diet” versions of ginger ale do not contain sugar, they do contain artificial sweeteners that can be just as damaging to health in different ways. It is believed, for example, that certain artificial sweeteners might be linked to the development of certain kinds of cancer or other health concerns. Additionally, they still contain other common soda chemical ingredients that are problematic.
“Ginger Ale’s Amazing Health Benefits”, https://www.pyroenergen.com/articles10/ginger-ale.htm
“Health Risks of Being Overweight”, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight
“10 Medicinal Ginger Health Benefits”, https://draxe.com/10-medicinal-ginger-health-benefits
“Sodium Benzoate”, http://naturallysavvy.com/eat/this-is-why-sodium-benzoate-is-so-scary
“Skinny Girl margarita pulled: What is sodium benzoate; is it bad?” http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/08/news/la-heb-skinnygirl-margarita-sodium-benzoate-20110908
“What is Type 2 Diabetes?” https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Diabetes-the-basics/What-is-Type-2-Diabetes