Bitter Is Better!
Are you aware of the health benefits of bitter foods? Bitter foods help increase stomach acid which supports
1. Healthy aging
2. Improved digestion
3. Better metabolism for weight loss
With our food supply changing over the years, food preferences have shifted more towards sweeter flavors.
I encourage you to add bitter foods to your diet to improve overall optimal health!
What Is Bitter?
Bitter refers to the strong, pungent taste sensation that can be very unfavorable for some. However, bitter foods contain powerful phytochemicals that bind with receptors starting in the tongue all the way down to the intestines, providing us with beneficial nutrients and increasing stomach acid which aids the digestion process.
I recommend The Bitter Prescription by Dr. Jenn Stagg for more information on enhancing your health with bitter foods. Dr. Stagg is a naturopathic physician who is currently, as of September 2021, accepting new patients for virtual healthcare, which can be covered by insurance.
How Bitters Work
Bitter foods contain polyphenols and flavonoids that play an important role in gene expression, affecting methylation patterns in DNA. Methylation is important because it’s how a gene gets expressed, acting as a chemical tag that turns ON/OFF. Some genes we want OFF. Some we want ON, like the tumor suppressor gene.
For example, green tea can positively affect the epigenetics in people prone to Type 2 Diabetes, turning the chemical tag ON/OFF. Diets rich in phytonutrients, like the Mediterranean Diet, can turn OFF genes associated with Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic diseases that are affected by lifestyle through DNA expression.
1. Healthy Aging
As we age, digestion gets sluggish due to low stomach acid. Especially in people over 50 who suffer nutrient deficiencies, most commonly Vitamin B12 and Iron. Poor digestion leads to malabsorption of nutrients. Bitter receptors get activated and increase stomach acid production.
2. Improve Digestion
There are many younger than 50 who also experience low stomach acid. Bitters can aid with bloating by activating stomach acid enzymes. This is why it’s beneficial to have bitters prior to eating meals. You can also prime the stomach with apple cider vinegar to stimulate the bitter receptors. However, if you have an ulcer or suffer from gastritis, bitters are not recommended. Read tips on How To Relieve Bloating Fast.
3. Better Metabolism for Weight Loss
For people who are trying to lose weight but experience weight loss resistance, bitter foods are essential. The proteins in the saliva adapt to the bitter sensation and lessens the unpleasant bitter taste relatively quickly. By introducing bitter foods into your diet, your taste buds learn to adapt over time, changing your appetite resulting in less eating and reduced sugar cravings.
Studies show how bitters act as insulin and can regulate blood sugar. They play a big role in improving insulin sensitivity, blood sugar control, fat burning hormones and digestive hormones. Bitters also show improvement in fat metabolism.
Other Benefits of Bitter Foods
– Bitters for microbiome: Consuming a wide variety of bitter foods helps increase the diversity of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
– Good for the liver: Bitter foods help stimulate bile production in the liver to help with digestion.
– Immune system: Bitters, such as oregano and garlic, provide antiviral and antimicrobial effects that impact immune function and help fight infections.
Tips On Where To Start
- Start small like drinking herbal teas or lemon water before a meal.
- Coffee is also bitter, making it a great excuse to justify coffee addiction!
- Eat more organic and non-GMO foods.
- Starting a meal with a salad stimulates your digestion. An arugula salad is a great start. Use arugula as the base, then add some protein on top, dress it with some olive oil (also has some bitter compounds) and some lemon juice.
- Experiment with fresh herbs and spices that are potent in bitter compounds. Or try growing your own herbs & spices. Turmeric contains the polyphenol Curcumin, which affects methylation patterns.
- For serious problems with digestion, use tinctures as they are more concentrated.
- Wine and beer are also bitters that contain polyphenols. These should be consumed in moderation.
If you need help in getting started, together we can formulate a plan. Please request a call to go through your unique needs by filling out the form below, or book a day and time that fits your schedule here.