Daily Bitters

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LettuceIn today’s modern society it is commonly assumed that a bitter taste is something to be avoided.  But bitterness is actually an important and necessary stimulant for digestion.   You might be surprised to learn, that a bitter taste is actually what stimulates digestive process and keeps things running smoothly!

What you do before your meal is just as important as what you eat during it. The essence of good physical health is rooted in digestion.

The mechanics of chewing along with the stimulating taste of bitters triggers a cascade of events that allows the body to break down food for absorption and promotes gastrointestinal detoxification.

When a person first tastes a bitter, taste buds on the tongue will activate a chain of events. First an increase in salvation occurs.  Saliva contains several enzymes which help break down complex starches into smaller, easier to digest starches. This increase in salivation causes an increase in gastric secretions. These include increased flow of digestive juices from the pancreas, stomach, small intestine and gallbladder and all result in better digestion of nutrients. In the pancreas, bitters regulate the release of pancreatic hormones that regulate blood sugar, insulin, and glucagon. Bitters then tell the stomach to release gastrin, hyrdrochloric acid and pepsin, all which breakdown proteins and enhance the bioavailability of miners as well as destroys harmful microbs found in our food.  Bitters also tell the small intestine to produce bile as well as tell the gall bladder to release its excretion. Bile rids the liver of waste products, emulsifies lipids, which then allows the pancreatic enzymes to break down proteins and carbohydrates. Overall consuming bitters can effectively absorb nutrients, destroy harmful microbs and help your body detox.

Incorporating bitters into your meals can be both fun and healthy! Bitters are best enjoyed BEFORE meals.

A light salad is an easy ways to add bitters before your meal. Below are a few simple salad recipes that contain common bitters you can find at your local grocery store.

Endive Winter Salad

Endive Summer Salad

Another effective way to incorporate the health benefits bitters is enjoying a cup of tea.  If you are an ambitious tea lover try simmering dandelion root, burdock root, milk thistle seed, ginger and cardamom in a pot for about 20-30 minutes.

It is the simple pleasures and daily habits that move us forward.

Cheers to daily bitters,

Red Leaf Clinic

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