Using Bitters for Digestive Support

Using Bitters for Digestive Support

Did you know that those bitter flavors hitting the back and sides of your tongue and making you cringe actually trigger a cascade of beneficial events in your body?

What are Bitters?

Bitters are herbs, foods, and beverages with—you guessed it—a bitter taste. When this flavor is detected in the mouth, it triggers several responses in the gut that support digestion.

Here’s how bitter flavors stimulate important digestive secretions in key areas:

  • Mouth: increases saliva, which aids the mechanical breakdown of food and starts the digestion of carbohydrates
  • Stomach: increases stomach acid supports the breakdown of food and activates protein digestion
  • Pancreas: increases release of digestive enzymes helps breakdown proteins, fats, and carbohydrates once they have reached the small intestine
  • Liver: increases bile flow assists with fat metabolism

These digestive organs play a crucial role in breaking down and absorbing food.

Supporting their functions with bitters can be achieved through food, beverages, or herbal tinctures. Bitter foods include arugula, dandelion greens, kale, Brussels sprouts, and radishes. Starting your meal with a bitter salad is a great way to kick start digestion before your main course.

Bitter beverages like lemon water, tonic water, black coffee, and chamomile tea can also prepare your digestive system—just a few sips before eating can make a big difference.

Bitter herbal tinctures are another excellent option.

These are extracts from bitter herbs such as dandelion, chamomile, gentian, and goldenseal. Specific herbs can be chosen based on their additional benefits. For instance, chamomile is both bitter and calming, making it perfect for a nervous stomach.

Bitters are incredibly beneficial for digestive health and support the gut in many ways.

Incorporating them into your regular meals is a fantastic way to tone the digestive system and use food as medicine. The next time you taste something bitter and notice increased saliva, remember that other important digestive juices are being released too, aiding in the breakdown and absorption of food and promoting overall digestive health.

Get in touch with our office staff to book an appointment or a free consultation with one of our expert naturopathic doctors.

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Dr. Caitlan Gignac, ND San Jose Naturopath

Dr. Caitlan Gignac
Naturopathic Doctor San Jose
408-356-1364

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