- Ginger is a popular culinary spice used around the world.
- Specific components of ginger, such as gingerol, can extend lifespan in multiple organisms.
- Ginger can protect mice against high doses of radiation that cause massive DNA damage, lipid oxidation, and other cellular damage.
- Ginger can reduce aging-related low-grade inflammation in humans (inflammaging)
- Ginger improves mitochondrial health. The mitochondria are the powerplants of our cells. During aging, mitochondrial function declines.
- Ginger can improve cognition, attention, thinking speed, and memory in humans.
GINGER IMPACTS AGING VIA
THE ROLE OF GINGER IN AGING AND LONGEVITY
Ginger, a culinary spice used for millennia across the world, has been proven to extend lifespan in simple organisms like fruit flies (R). But there’s a lot more to this spice than that.
Ginger and longevity
Specific components in ginger, like gingerol, extend lifespan in C elegans worms, and can bring about various longevity-promoting effects (R). For example, stress resistance was increased, while lipofuscin levels were reduced. Lipofuscin is called the “aging pigment”: it accumulates during aging until it’s so ubiquitous it hinders the functioning of cells, especially in long-lived cells like neurons.
Ginger protects mice against lethal doses of radiation
Ginger can protect cells against damage. Not just damage caused by aging, but even against very serious damage, like the one caused by lethal doses of radiation.
In a rather gruesome experiment (not supported by NOVOS!), mice were exposed to high doses of radiation. Mice that received ginger beforehand had significantly improved survival rates:
The researchers believe that ginger reduced mortality in the irradiated mice by virtue of its free radical scavenging capabilities, and by reducing lipid oxidation (R,R). Free radical scavenging means that ginger can capture free radicals, which arise in high amounts by the radioactive beams hitting the components of our cells, such as DNA.
Radioactive radiation also causes lots of lipid oxidation. Lipids make up the cell membrane, among other things, and get very damaged by oxidation. Ginger elevates glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that is produced by our own cells. Ginger also induces the production of powerful antioxidant enzymes, like superoxide dismutase and catalase.
The specific forms of damage caused by radiation also unfold during the aging process, albeit at far lower levels and much more gradually. During aging, more and more oxidation of lipids, DNA and cell constituents occurs. Also, our own cellular antioxidant defense mechanisms decline, such as levels of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase and catalase.
Other anti-aging effects of ginger
Ginger has various other beneficial effects on the aging process.
Ginger can reduce inflammaging (low-grade inflammation that increases during the aging process), has epigenetic effects, and impacts mitochondrial functioning. The mitochondria are the powerplants of our cells. One way ginger impacts mitochondrial health is by increasing mitochondrial biogenesis, which is the creation of new mitochondria (R,R). The older we get, the fewer proper functioning mitochondria we have.
Ginger can also improve cognitive function according to various studies (R,R). For example, in a study with 60 middle-aged women, the women that received ginger for two months showed improved attention and better cognitive processing (R). Attention, thinking speed and memory improved in another study (R).
So ginger has two interesting advantages: in the long term, ginger can protect the body against damage caused by aging via various mechanisms, while in the short term it can improve cognitive function, so we can immediately be more productive and get more done.