It’s that time of year when we gather with friends and family to celebrate the festive season, relax into the holidays and eat
Sometimes when we eat too much it can feel very unpleasant because your stomach does not have sufficient digestive juices to assimilate the food you have taken in
This undigested food can cause many symptoms such as indigestion, constipation, heartburn, nausea, and the resultant nutritional deficiencies because of malabsorption
These symptoms can be related to the lack of the “bitter” taste in the foods we are eating
We love sweet, and we know salty, but the bitter taste of some foods has been lost because of processed foods and our disconnect with the wild and beneficial weeds, herbs and salads that could be growing in your back yard
Bitters can improve your appetite and digestion by stimulating the production of your digestive juices. Bitters stimulate the production of bile from your gall bladder into your small intestine which in turn aids the assimilation of nutrients from your food. Bile is also necessary for the digestion of fats, the metabolism of sugar and it acts as a natural laxative. Bonus!
Bitters can reduce bloating and gas and relax muscle spasm in your gastrointestinal system. Adding bitter tasting foods to your diet will aid liver detoxification and tone your kidneys
Some of the more common plants that have bitter properties are peppermint, water cress, aloe vera, chamomile, yarrow, horseradish, radish, chicory, endive dandelion greens, mustard greens, artichokes, milk thistle, nettles, dill and dark chocolate
All the lettuce greens can be added to your salad and eaten before your main meal to get those digestive juices rolling. A herbal tea can be made with a blend of a few sprigs of yarrow, a couple of tips of nettles, and some peppermint and then sipped on after your meal
Grated fresh horseradish can be included in your salad as well as the turnip and radish tops. Turnips and radishes are two of the easiest things to grow and have many well documented health benefits apart from their bitter properties.
The taste of bitter can be acquired over time. The first few times may be unpleasant but you will find that once your taste buds have been rebalanced you will grow to like the taste. Satisfying this bitter taste can reduce food cravings, especially for sweets
Some well-known commercial bitter liqueurs such as Campari, Jagermeister, Fernet and Angostura are popular throughout Europe as aperitifs and can be added to sparkling or cool water and sipped as a refreshing digestive
When you use herbal bitters and/or grow bitters in your garden you are practicing self help
I wish a happy festive season to you all. Here’s to 2015.