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Ginger 4 Spleen - A Love Story!

For all I prefer to buy my fresh produce at a farm shop or farmers' market, I do appreciate the role that supermarkets have played in improving the variety in our diets, not to mention the convenience. Ginger, the root, is one of those foods that not too long ago, you would have to have hunted high and low for. Now it's available in every supermarket and if you are lucky enough to live in a culturally diverse area, in local convenience stores too.

In my local Waitrose, it's stocked alongside the lemongrass, coriander, garlic and chillies so you could be forgiven for thinking of it solely as just one ingredient in an oriental dish. When you consider all the wonderful properties this humble looking little root delivers, you might want to think again.

Ginger...

- Speeds up your metabolism.
- It's a warming food so grate it into juices or on salads in the winter.
- Its soothing antiseptic properties help the body handle the cold and wind.
- It's a natural remedy for morning and travel sickness. Something to do with the Gingerols
- It's great for the spleen.

Now I don't know about you, but up until about a year ago, I had absolutely no idea where the spleen was, what it did and why I should even care!

I mean, 'spleen'... it's not the most attractive of words is it? Sounds a bit nasty. But the thing is, it's really rather crucial if you want to benefit from a healthy diet. You see, for all it's a small organ, the spleen has many functions:

- #1 - It acts as a blood reservoir in times of emergency, for example, if we cut ourselves badly.

- #2 - It recycles worn out red blood cells by transforming them into iron in your blood.

- #3 - It's part of the immune system, it neutralizes unhealthy bacteria preventing colds and flus.

- #4 - It works with your stomach for the uptake of nutrients from the food we eat, so a worn out spleen means that even if you are eating healthy foods, you are not going to absorb them properly.

A tired spleen is very common indeed.

If you are prone to colds and flu the chances are your spleen is weak. Other signs that yours needs a bit of TLC would be wind, bloating and (I trust you've eaten) constantly loose and runny bowel movements ie. where no stool has formed.

Ginger is just one example of foods that nourish the spleen. Others are onions, leeks, garlic, cinnamon, fennel and anything high in chlorophyll eg. Kale and leafy greens. And try eating oats, rice or spelt for breakfast.

The main active ingredient in Ginger is thought to be a compound called gingerol, which helps to relax blood vessels and stimulate blood flow. Given that the spleen is so busy with our blood, it's no surprise that it benefits so much from ginger, which also appears to be effective in helping to lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting (as an alternative to Aspirin).

I always have ginger in the fridge and use it in juices, salads, stir-fries, soups, marinades and dressings. My top tip - if it's just the juice you need, use a garlic press. Far less fiddly than grating it! Here's a recipe for Spinach Salad with Ginger Dressing - http://claireraikes.blogs.com/claires_blog/2005/06/spinach_salad_w.html.

Claire Raikes is a Wellbeing Coach, Speaker and Writer who 'cured' herself of a chronic, disabling and potentially life-threatening bowel condition without the use of steroids, surgery or any other traditional medical intervention. She now shares her passion for natural and vibrant health through coaching, speaking and writing about the importance and power of a truly healthy diet.

She publishes a free weekly eZine, In Essence and is compiling an eBook of Healthy Fast Food with 25% of the proceeds going to The Cancer Project, a charity set up by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and nutritionists to educate the public on the benefits of a healthy diet for cancer prevention and survival. If you have a recipe you would like to submit, visit http://www.LiveInEssence.com for further details. To book Claire to speak at your event, email her at Claire@LiveInEssence.com.

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