Ginger Helps with Recovery from Hard Training

When I was in high school I nearly always came down with a cold during the most intense training phases of my cross country and track seasons. It's possible that taking ginger might have helped me avoid at least a couple of those colds, and setbacks in training.

There are of course other factors that are part of the equation, such as nutrition and rest. Staying up until 1 a.m. reading may have contributed to lowering my immune system. While moderate exercise has been shown to boost your immune system, intense exercise can temporarily compromise it. Along with taking carbohydrates within 20 minutes of an intense exercise session, a study shows that ginger can also help due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Published in the Central European Journal of Immunology the study, it tested 28 subjects where half took 500 milligrams of ginger three times a day in powder form and half took a placebo after the first 6 weeks of a 12 week training cycle. Researchers measured plasma levels of three types of cytokines, which are hormone-like proteins that are considered markers of inflammation. The results were striking in that the placebo group's cytokine levels were elevated 32%, while the ginger group's were reduced by 18%. In theory, their susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections and other sickness was reduced significantly. Another positive aspect is that ginger does not cause the side effects associated with common anti-inflammatory medicines.

Besides capsules, ginger can be taken in crystalized form, as tea (about 250 milligrams per strong cup) and of course fresh ginger can add a tasty edge to your smoothies. Sorry, ginger snaps and cookies don't have nearly enough ginger in proportion to sugar!

Tony has been a runner for over three decades, competing in cross country and track in high school and college, and road races for various clubs. He's served as team captain for several Corporate Challenge teams at YMCA of the USA, and has informally coached many friends over the years.

Tags: This Week in Runners, Y, YMCA, Running, ginger, recovery, colds

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