You’ve likely been told that drinking ginger ale is good for upset stomachs, but it turns out that guzzling the soda isn’t doing much at all. In fact, it might even be making you feel worse.
Drinking ginger-flavoured soda does not help with queasiness because there’s not actually that much ginger in pop, and ginger is the ingredient that helps treat nausea, said Amanda Li, a registered dietitian at Wellness Simplified in Toronto.
“It’s really no different from you grabbing a Sprite if you had an upset stomach.”
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Plus, Li explained, the high sugar content in ginger ale might actually make you feel worse — especially if you drink too much of it.
“Sugar in general causes quite a lot of inflammation in the body,” she said. “Just like anything, if you have a cold, or any type of illness, you really want to limit sugar as much as possible because it’s really not adding any nutritional value at all.”
What should you drink instead of ginger ale?
The reason why so many of us think ginger ale cures stomach pain is because ginger has shown to be effective in treating nausea and vomiting. This means that if you want to reap the therapeutic benefits of ginger, you need to ingest it the right way.
Instead of reaching for soda, Li said it’s best to make your own homemade raw ginger tea “so you’re getting the actual compounds from the ginger root itself.”
“The way I do it at home is I grate ginger into a glass of hot water and let it steep,” she said. “Then, you can add a touch of honey if you want it sweeter because ginger does have a bit of spicy kick to it.”
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There are some exceptions, however, to the no-ginger-ale-for-tummy-trouble rule. If you’re so sick that you can’t eat, for example, Li said drinking ginger ale may make you feel better because it’s at least putting some calories into your body. This may be one of the reasons why people claim ginger soda makes them feel better when they’re sick, she explained.
“You get this instant sugar rush because you might not have been able to keep anything in your stomach, or you might not have had an appetite,” she said. “It feels good because you’re getting a little bit of that energy from the sugar content, and you’re also adding hydration to your body — and that’s really, really important.”
“However, there’s probably better ways to hydrate rather than using ginger ale.”