Ever since Selena Gomez revealed to James Corden during The Late Late Show‘s popular segment, “Carpool Karaoke” that she takes a shot of ginger every morning—or sometimes just a straight-up hunk of ginger, the internet has been all atwitter (hiyo!). Well, there’s no denying that Gomez looks healthy and fabulous on her first-ever Vogue cover. But what is it about ginger?
“It’s killing everything inside! All of the bad things,” she explained to Corden, by which she is most likely referring to the fact that ginger is known to help boost the immune system in a variety of ways, including via detoxification and T-cell activation. At the same time, ginger contains chemicals that reduce inflammation, which can interfere with the healthy functioning of the immune system by causing it to go into overdrive.
Ginger works primarily on the stomach and intestines, naturally alleviating various types of stomach problems, most notably nausea and indigestion, including that caused by pregnancy, motion sickness, and cancer treatment. Ginger can also reduce the presence of gas in the digestive tract, which in turn can help reduce belly bloat (any swelling or increase in the diameter of the abdominal area), the most common cause of which is the buildup of digestive gas. (Keep in mind that although a bloated belly is usually related to diet, it can be caused by more serious conditions.)
Registered dietitian Elisa Bremner of New York recommends ginger as a natural remedy for belly bloat and its diet-related causes. And you don’t have to take a daily ginger shot to enjoy its health benefits. One can simply include ginger, fresh or powdered, in healthy homemade meals. Try this stir fry recipe, for example. To treat gas or nausea, Bremner recommends chewing on a slice of fresh ginger root or adding freshly grated ginger to a cup of hot water to immediately relieve symptoms. If you’re inclined to try Gomez’s “shot of ginger” habit, you can whip up this recipe for a ginger lemon shot.
Although ginger has benefits, it has some potential risks. As Bremner says, “As with any super food, too much of a good thing may hurt more than help, and individual tolerance varies.” For example, some people find that ginger irritates their mouth. On a more serious note, one of the compounds in ginger has been found to possess more potent anti-platelet agents than aspirin under certain circumstances. Therefore, if you’re already taking aspirin for blood thinning, taking ginger regularly may be harmful. Ginger may interact with other medications as well, both prescription and over-the-counter, so it is best to discuss its use with a doctor before adopting a daily ginger regimen.