The Bitter Truth

In our conventional modern diets, the bitter taste is very rare. We tend to overuse the sweet taste and often the salty too with all the endless processed snacks we consume daily. But when do bitters come into the equation? With all the health benefits that they can bring us, it is a shame that people don’t know much about the parts of our digestive system which bitters can support.

Bitters are used in many different ways. You can find them anywhere, from the crafty cocktail menus (Angostura bitters) in the bars to the medicine cabinet (Swedish digestive bitters). While bitters may be a very trendy new cocktail component, they certainly are not all that popular in our everyday diets.

The origin of the use of bitter edibles traces back to the Egyptians, where they used to use it on people with digestive problems. The Egyptians infused bitter medical herbs in jars of wine and used them as preventive medicine, which was also often done during the Victorian times. However, due to newly discovered pharmaceutical medicines in the last 100 years or so, not many people use edible bitters to treat digestive problems, so here is why they should…

Benefits of edible bitters

Our bodies naturally possess many receptors for bitter compounds in our mouths, tongue, stomachs, liver, and pancreas. Nature has built this as a warning mechanism for our bodies as some of the most toxic things in nature often taste highly bitter.

But, leaving aside the toxic ones, bitters come in handy because once we have tasted something bitter, our bodies put more work into the digestive function and create a more significant quantity of saliva and other digestive enzymes are also triggered. This helps to break down nutrients in the foods we eat. This mechanism helps our bodies to digest all foods and absorb nutrients a lot quicker and in more extensive amounts. This is definitely beneficial for people who have trouble with digesting starchy foods and fatty foods as they usually take our bodies more effort to break down.

Everyday bitter foods:

Many foods and herbs contain bitter compounds, so you could easily add a wide variety of bitters to your diets. You can get them from cruciferous vegetables (kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and arugula), dandelion greens, cranberries and green tea. You could also try adding ginger, grapefruits, lemons, and limes as condiments and flavour enhancers. Green leafy herbs like thyme, basil, oregano and tarragon can add dimensions of flavour as well as enhancing the digestion.

It is widely accepted that the Asian diet is one of the healthiest diets. Many Asian countries have much lower heart disease and autoimmune disease rates than most English-speaking countries, most probably because of their varied and natural diet. They also include a wide variety of bitter fruits and vegetables available. They try to incorporate at least one bitter ingredient, especially fermented as pickles, in each one of their meals.

China, in particular, has a very long history of natural remedies, from which we can learn a lot about how to use different ingredients to heal ourselves. They have much knowledge of bitter foods and herbs and often use them for treating various digestive issues.

We can incorporate bitter foods into our diets or use a natural supplement, making it a lot easier to take our daily intake. Typically for the Original Bitters, enjoy 1/4 teaspoon before or after meals up to six times daily for healthy skin and gentle detox. For the Healthy Liver Bitters, enjoy 1/2 teaspoon before or after meals up to four times per day to support regular detox and encourage the healthy production and release of bile.

A supplement product that is Taymount Clinic’s particular favourite at the moment, is ‘Bitters & Ginger’ by a company called Nature’s Answer. This is a natural product company that specializes in creating products for digestive issues. This product is easy to use and is highly recommended by homeopaths worldwide because of its many benefits. You can find more information about the product on our website.

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