When you’re having tummy troubles, you might think reaching for the bubbly haven of ginger ale is the best option. But soft drink, as it turns out, doesn’t do much for your stomach, and that ginger ale probably doesn’t have any real ginger in it anyway.
Photo by Laura D’Alessandro.
For years, people have assumed ginger ale contains some magic power to turn an angry stomach’s frown upside-down. The idea being that the bubbles and caffeine kick your digestion into overdrive, while the ginger acts as an anti-nausea treatment. But over at The Wall Street Journal, Heidi Mitchell spoke with gastroenterologist Alexandra Gutierrez about ginger ale, and why it isn’t actually the medicine you want when you’re feeling sick and bloated.
Overeating and eating meals high in fat is likely to cause you some problems, like gas and abdominal distention. You’re uncomfortable, nauseated, and probably feel some pain down there. The only way to get better is to get the food out of your stomach and into your intestinal tract, says Gutierrez, but ginger ale doesn’t help much with this process. The caffeine and carbonated bubbles might give your gut a slight jump start, but the high amounts of sugar in the soft drink will make your nausea worse. Choosing diet over regular ginger ale might help, but it still isn’t the panacea you want it to be. Why? While ginger is well known for its anti-nausea benefits, those cans of ginger ale likely don’t have any ginger in them at all.
So what’s a bloated, queasy person to do? Drink ginger tea instead. Ginger tea, unlike most ginger ale, does have real ginger in it, and it doesn’t have all that sugar. Also, hot liquids, like tea, will really get your bowels moving. The warm liquid will act as a vasodilator that widens the blood vessels in the digestive system and increases blood flow to promote gastrointestinal activity. Remember, the faster you can get things moving down there, the sooner you’ll feel comfortable again. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, about 1g of ginger per day will do the trick. So, assuming a standard 2g bag of ginger tea mix contains about 25 per cent to 50 per cent ginger (0.5g to 1g), just one bag will probably be sufficient for your post-meal healing.