Bitter Foods that can Revolutionize Your Gut Health
The surprising truth about bitter foods is that they contain plant-based chemicals that can streamline how your body reacts to nutritious meals, an added bonus to the fact that most bitter foods are entirely nutritious on their own. Bitters — and bitter-tasting herbs and foods — have been used for millennia as a digestive aid. In a nutshell, bitter foods increase saliva production and start the digestion process because of their bitter flavor.
Which kinds of foods can you consider bitter?
They may already be grocery staples you know and love — think things like a daily cup of coffee, fresh cranberries, crunchy kale in your favorite salad. Foods and beverages like these contain bitter elements that stimulate your taste buds, which in turn activate saliva production when you are eating. From there that excess saliva triggers gastric acid to aid in immediate digestion, later stimulating bile flow in your gut.
Stomach acid is a good thing, and you need enough to help digest food that you eat. Therefore, incorporating bitter foods into your diet can help with bowel regularity and constipation, because these foods help to keep food moving through the digestive tract.
Kale does qualify as a bitter flavor profile that promotes digestion — alongside the fact that it is a fiber powerhouse, which helps you stay regular. Kale is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, particularly vitamins A and K as well as calcium and potassium. It contains a group of sulfur-containing compounds that help to better regulate your liver health.
Kale contains prebiotics that promote good gut health, as it helps to increase the amount of good gut bacteria, helping with digestion. Kale works to reduce bad cholesterol, known as LDL, by binding to extra circulating cholesterol in your system and carrying it out through elimination.
If you feel like you cannot get your day started properly without a cup of coffee, you would not be the only one — coffee is bitter and tart, promoting saliva production and jumpstarting the digestion process (key at breakfast!). Research suggests that coffee may be the single greatest contributor to antioxidant intake in your diet, as it contains many things which work to prevent vision loss or blindness as the body may age. Plus, antioxidants can help to fight inflammation across your body. Stick to caffeinated coffee, though, as decaf coffee loses many of its antioxidants in this process, and new research suggests unfiltered coffee may lead to increased cholesterol consumption overall.
Citric acid is what makes a fresh grapefruit feel intensely bitter in your mouth — and when consumed in excess, can contribute to chronic irritation for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or heartburn. Grapefruits, in particular, have a high fiber composition and are loaded with water… Aiding in feeling a lot more satiated until the next meal (hydration is key!). It is also a rich source of Vitamin C, which can promote collagen production; key for healthy skin, hair and nails."
Another member of the chicory family, endives are set apart due to their inulin composition, an indigestible prebiotic fiber that occurs naturally within this crisp leaf vegetable. Inulin can help with holistic digestion as it promotes good bacteria. Endives also are rich in vitamin A, C and E, packing an extra punch of electrolytes found within their potassium makeup.
It has beneficial properties — the leaves are bitter and contain inulin, which can help lower bad cholesterol and may help to keep blood sugar more stable. Dandelion contains vitamins A, C, K, as well as folate, iron, calcium and potassium, which is a natural diuretic. Usually, dandelion greens are used in salads, spun into green juice or even processed into Dandelion tea to help with digestive issues.