Fact Or Fiction: Ginger Ale Will Calm An Upset Stomach

Among the cherished childhood rituals that many of us don't think twice about and pass on to our own kids, sipping ginger ale on the couch whenever we had a tummy ache ranks pretty high, right up there with the cartoons we watched while sipping. Because everyone knows that ginger ale calms an upset stomach, right? Well, it turns out the facts are a little more complicated.

It's true that actual ginger root can help provide relief for a variety of stomach issues. It's been used for many centuries around the world as a cure-all for digestive problems and, although some of the evidence is inconclusive, many studies do support the medicinal use of ginger to help with nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, and digestive troubles. Ginger often performs better than a placebo, and sometimes even better than anti-nausea medications (via Healthline). Not only that, but it's inexpensive, easy to find, and safe to use for most people.

Ginger can help settle an upset stomach

The problem with ginger ale is that it's usually much more sugary ale than it is ginger. Gina Sam, M.D., a gastroenterologist in New York City, told Marie Claire, "I don't think the public realizes how much sugar and how little ginger is in these beverages." One can of Schweppes or Canada Dry Ginger Ale has a hefty 32 grams of sugar in it. To put that in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that women don't consume more than 25 grams per day of added sugar. All that sugar can exacerbate the problem when there's a stomach illness. Dr. Sam adds, "The reason we say to avoid sugar when you're fighting a stomach illness is because sugar actually feeds the bad bacteria in your GI tract, causing more bloating, gas, and indigestion."

Thankfully, there are more effective ways to take ginger. You can make tea out of it by steeping chopped or grated ginger root in hot water. Ginger supplements, essential oil, and crystalized ginger are also easy to find and take.