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Health Benefits of Ginger Beer and How to Make Your Own at Home

Health Benefits of Ginger Beer and How to Make Your Own at Home

There is so much more to ginger beer than being a key ingredient to making the perfect moscow mule. When consumed on its own, ginger beer can have some amazing health benefits. In fact, one of the most popular ways to consume ginger is in its beer form. Yes, you read that right! Ginger beer is much healthier than most carbonated drinks, and it’s also one of the most refreshing drinks you can easily prepare in your own home.

The key ingredient in ginger beer is ginger root, which is known for its myriad of culinary and medicinal uses since ancient times. The ginger root holds an active compound called gingerol, a natural oil which is a rich source of minerals such as magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, and vitamin B6. This active compound is responsible for ginger’s medicinal properties. Additionally, gingerol is also responsible for the rich unique fragrance of the root.

Ginger Beer Ingredients

In its simplest form, ginger beer can be made using either fresh or dried ginger, sugar and lemon juice. Not to be confused with the fizzy ginger ale, ginger beer’s carbonation is created by adding yeast during the brewing process, whereas the ale’s fizziness is obtained through adding seltzer water. There are two varieties of ginger beer currently being sold: alcoholic and nonalcoholic. The taste of ginger beer greatly varies due to the differing amounts and types of ginger and sugar used. More importantly, some brands do not indicate the ginger content in their beer. Thus, the best way to truly reap the benefits of this amazing beverage is to make your own at home.

Ginger beer has a number of health benefits that make it quite different from most refreshing beverages:

Relieves Nausea and Improves Digestion

Did you know that ginger beer is an effective remedy against nausea and morning sickness? According to studies conducted by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, ginger beer enhances digestion and helps food move smoothly through the stomach. Stomach discomforts and nausea are strongly correlated with one another. Ginger’s active substances gingerol and shogaol are effective agents in relieving stomach irritation and other digestive discomforts. Moreover, these substances also help activate your body’s saliva and bile production, and the latter mixes with the food contents within your stomach and thereby assists in digestion.

Generally, regularly working out and ensuring a proper diet can improve your metabolism, but this is not always possible. Certain situations like sickness, injury recovery and pregnancy may not allow such regimens. In such situations, drinking ginger beer can be a great alternative. Ginger’s active compounds are an effective agent for activating various digestive functions such as bile production and pancreatic lipase stimulation, which help enhance the body’s energy flow and ultimately help the body burn fat. Plus, ginger is all natural, proven to be safe, and does not have side effects.

Lowers Cancer Risk

Ginger beer’s effectiveness at preventing cancer is not yet conclusive, and further scientific studies need to be conducted. However, early indications are that ginger beer’s active compounds exhibit anti-cancer properties. Findings from various studies such as the one conducted by the Cancer Prevention Research in 2013 demonstrate that ginger killed off colorectal cancer cells in humans and also prevented the cancer from growing back. Another laboratory study published by the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research in 2016 showed that ginger prevented the development of human cancer cells.

Gastrointestinal cancer and liver cancer are some of the most common cancers present around the world. Fortunately, we have superfoods such as ginger available at our disposal. In addition to gingerol and shogaol, other active compounds like zingerone and paradol work in unison to fight cancer cells. Moreover, these compounds exhibit chemo-preventive properties that alleviate the signaling molecules that cause inflammation and stop the other destructive activities of the cancer cells in our bodies.

    Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

      Have you ever suffered from arthritis, osteoarthritis, gastritis, esophagitis, hepatitis, and any other type of body inflammation? Ginger beer can help! Body inflammation happens when the body’s white blood cells are set into motion to fight or protect our body against foreign substances. This sudden release of chemicals raises blood flow to the afflicted area, which results in inflammation. Ginger contains active compounds that can effectively suppress the inflammation and also aid in pain relief.

      Studies have been conducted regarding its effectiveness against body inflammation. In 2013, a laboratory study found that ginger works just as well as an anti-inflammatory medication such as steroids in curbing rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatism. The research published by the International Journal of Preventive Medicine says that regular intake of ginger can help suppress tissue inflammation, and can also help protect our body against diseases that can be contracted from various infectious agents and harmful habits such as cigarette smoking.

      Ginger’s potassium content provides detoxification support and works well with glutathione, which is a strong antioxidant produced by our body that eliminates harmful free radicals. Other minerals present in ginger such as manganese and silicon help protect the heart’s blood vessel lining and promote healthy nails, skin, hair, and teeth.

      Anti-Bacterial Properties

          Ginger’s anti-bacterial properties helps explain why it serves as one of the primary ingredients in many culinary recipes and traditional medicines available in the world today. Active compounds found in ginger make it a very potent antibacterial agent. A study regarding ginger’s antibacterial properties was conducted by the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Buea in Cameroon, and extracts have been observed to effectively suppress four different respiratory tract pathogens. In Nigeria, a study was also conducted to see which among ginger extract and several antibiotics was better at suppressing microbial activity, and findings revealed that the ginger extract was superior to the antibiotics.

          Drinking ginger beer is also effective against various fungi, such as the Streptococcus Pyogenes and Staphylococcus Aureus. The primary compound responsible for this action is the root’s gingerol. Making this beverage a part of your health regime can help your body get rid of bacteria and fungi, and also spare you from expensive and potentially harmful antibiotics.

            Slows Down Signs of Aging

              Aging is a fact of life, but the telltale physical signs such as wrinkles don’t have to be! Drinking ginger beer can help delay the aging process and the signs that go with it. Its aroma alone can already make us feel good and lift our spirits. Stress, whether emotional or psychological, expedites the aging process. A glass of ginger beer can certainly bring about a sense of calm and should also give us the energy to keep up with our daily routines.

              Moreover, ginger beer can promote good mental health. Its key ingredient, the ginger root, has been traditionally used to treat many mental problems such as memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Ginger intake can greatly increase brain levels of important neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. It can also promote the activity of another important neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is key to effective learning and memory. So, if you are someone with a family history of Alzheimer’s, consider drinking ginger beer as a preventative measure.

              How to Make Your Own at Your Home

              We cannot emphasize enough how beneficial drinking ginger beer can be to the body, but it will be all the more beneficial and healthier if you can drink something homemade. Homemade ginger beer is sure to yield better health benefits than those commercially-bought since the preparation process does not involve any chemicals or preservatives. Making ginger beer at home also allows you to have a refreshing drink any time of day. In this recipe, we will discuss the simplified version, which would only take about 2 to 3 days to complete, and the authentic version, which would take about 4 to 6 weeks to complete. The main difference between these two versions is that the authentic version uses a ginger bug which will be discussed further in this post.

              Simplified Ginger Beer

              Ingredients

              1/4 cup of grated ginger (peeled)
              1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
              1/4 cup of lemon juice
              1 teaspoon of baker’s yeast
              1 cup of sugar
              Wa
              ter

              Instructions

                1. In a large pot, combine the grated ginger, cream of tartar and the lemon juice.
                2. Add 4 cups of water, and bring the mixture to a full boil.
                3. Turn the heat down once it reaches a full boil, then add the sugar and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.
                4. Add 5 cups of cold water to the pot and allow it to cool to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius).
                5. Add the yeast, and stir well.
                6. Cover the pot with a towel, and store it in a warm and dark part of your house, or anywhere away from light. Let it sit for about 3 hours.
                7. Transfer the mixture into a large pitcher. Use a fine strainer to remove the bits of ginger.
                8. Pour the liquid into clean glass bottles with swingtops. Make sure to only fill the bottles about 2/3 full as the fermentation will yield carbon dioxide. If the bottles are completely filled they may explode due to pressure.
                9. Place the bottles in a warm and dark part of your house and let it ferment for 2 to 3 days. Carefully loosen the caps up to three times a day to relieve some of the pressure.
                10. You may refrigerate the ginger beer if you like. Note that refrigerating will stall the microbial activity in the beer, and allowing it to stay at room temperature will cause it to continue fermenting.

                Authentic Ginger Beer

                The authentic version of ginger beer is a two-step process using a ginger bug, which is a collection of beneficial bacteria and yeasts. The resulting beverage is rich in probiotics, which, when consumed as part of a regular diet, will promote a healthy digestive system.

                Step 1: Ginger Bug

                Ingredients

                2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
                2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar
                2 cups of water
                Glass jar
                Towel or cloth
                Rubber bands

                Instructions

                1. In a glass jar, combine the grated fresh ginger along with the sugar and water. Stir with a wooden or any non-metal spoon until the sugar has been completely dissolved.
                2. Cover the glass jar with a towel or cloth, and secure it with rubber bands.
                3. Let it sit for about 5 to 7 days at room temperature. Once a day in that 5 to 7 days, add an additional 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar and 2 to 3 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger.
                4. You can check to see if it’s ready by looking at the bubbles formed. The mixture should fix even if disturbed, and should emit a sharp, yeasty smell.

                Step 2: Ginger Beer

                Ingredients

                Approximately 2 x 8 inch pieces of ginger root, peeled and grated
                1.8 gallons of filtered water
                1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
                3 cups of sugar (white or brown)
                1/3 cup lemon juice
                2 cups of ginger bug

                Instructions

                1. In a pot, combine the grated ginger, sugar, salt, and 1 gallon of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir periodically to let the ginger diffuse evenly.
                2. Take the pot off the heat and add the remaining water. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
                3. Use a fine strainer to remove the ginger bits.
                4. Pour the ginger bug into the mixture. Make sure that the mixture is already at room temperature before pouring in, as the mixture will kill the ginger bug if it is still hot.
                5. Pour the lemon juice and stir well.
                6. Pour the liquid into clean glass bottles with swingtops. Make sure to only fill the bottles about 2/3 full as the fermentation will yield carbon dioxide. If the bottles are completely filled they may explode due to pressure.
                7. Keep the containers in a warm, dark place or anywhere away from light, and let it ferment for about 10 days. Remember to carefully loosen the caps a few times a day to relieve some of the pressure.
                8. You may refrigerate the ginger beer if you like. Note that refrigerating will stall the microbial activity in the beer, and allowing it to stay at room temperature will cause it to continue fermenting.

                As an added note, the longer you ferment the beverage, the less sweet and more dry it becomes. If you prefer a sweeter ginger beer, you may choose to ferment it for a shorter period than instructed, or add more sugar. You may also customize the beverage according to your liking – you may add fruit juices for extra flavor or liquor to make it alcoholic.

                Final Thoughts

                Better than commercially available ginger beers, homemade ginger beer has a more subtle flavor profile. Not only it is tastier, but it is also much healthier as it has lower sugar content and can be further boosted with probiotics depending on your preference. You can also adjust the intended flavor by varying the amount of sugar and the duration of the fermentation.

                Homemade ginger beer also makes a great base for the perfect moscow mule cocktail served ice cold in classic copper mugs. We find that fresh ginger beer makes for a particularly refreshing moscow mule with just the right balance of spicy and sweet.

                We hope this post inspires you to try making your own ginger beer from scratch and to reap all of the health benefits ginger has to offer!

                2 comments

                Aug 16, 2018 • Posted by Moscow Muled

                Hi Tim, if you purchase your ginger beer from the refrigerator section you should refrigerate it at home. However, if you buy it off the shelf there is no need to refrigerate it until opened. Hope that helps!

                Aug 16, 2018 • Posted by Tim Price

                So if I buy goslings ginger beer at the store,i am not to keep it cold? I love ginger beer and gin with fresh lime juice! Very good!

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