I wanted to follow up my last video with a bit more information on some herbs that you can use in your diet.
Bitters. Watch to find out why that bitter taste is good for you. (3:46)
So to recap:
So we have five tastes that we can sense on our tongue
Sweet, salty, sour, umami and……bitter.
The first four we enjoy in many different foods that we eat, but, bitter?….well, we usually turn our nose up at that one.
In fact, bitter foods have largely been eliminated from the foods that we eat…because, well, they taste bitter. (You don’t see bitter foods at the checkout line at the grocery store).
Well, I hate to break it to you but tasting something bitter can have a very positive effect on your digestion.
Remember, anything that allows you to better digest and absorb the nutrients that you are eating is a very, very good thing.
But why bitter?
From an evolutionary standpoint, it is believed that the bitter taste you sense is a survival mechanism – plants that are more bitter can tend to be more toxic (so if you tasted something really bitter, you didn’t want to eat it). The thing is, most of the food that we ate back in the day did taste bitter to some extent (humans hadn’t started manipulating the food yet).
What happens when you taste something bitter?
Sensing the bitter taste on your tongue kick starts your digestive system. Think of the bitter taste as being the ignition to your digestive engine.
And when you eat something, you want your digestive system to be primed and ready to do its job to extract as many nutrients from the food as much as possible.
This is where that bitter taste coming in….
When you taste something bitter your body responds by stimulating:
- salivary glands to produce salivary enzymes that start to break down carbohydrates
- gastric juices to break down your food (remember, you want that stomach acid!)
- the liver and gallbladder to release bile (this has a number of functions including emulsifying fats)
- the pancreas to release digestive enzymes
All of this just because you tasted something bitter – crazy isn’t it?
So if you want to improve your digestion and extract all of the nutrition out of the food that you eat, consider having something bitter before you eat.
How do you take bitters?
1. It could be something as easy as eating some bitter vegetables –bitter greens – arugula, kale, endive….
2. You can also consider taking digestive bitters.
I talked about herbal remedies last week and there are certainly herbs out there that are bitter that trigger that digestive cascade.
Some examples of bitter herbs are:
Believe me, that is not an exhaustive list…..
You can take digestive bitters as a tea or as a tincture…(I personally think it is easier to take it as a tincture right before a meal).
If you are going to take a tincture, read the instructions on the bottle….the instructions are typically like this: take 30-45 drops (in a small amount of water) approximately 15minutes before your meal. When you take the tincture, hold it in your mouth briefly just to make sure your brain gets the bitter message, and then, swallow
Now you won’t necessarily take digestive bitters long term – they are more to help to retrain your digestive system to react to when food comes down the pipe.
Bottomline – your digestion works best when it starts off on the right foot. Bitters can help to ignite your digestive engine.
Give it a shot and see how you make out (you may be surprised ;)).
For more tips on how to live healthier and happier, visit my website and download the free checklist, “7 simple swaps for a healthier home.”
Thanks so much for watching!