What are bitters?

What are bitters?

With almost up to 5000 taste buds speckling our tongue and throat, we are not only able to have a great feel of the taste of every food that enters into our mouth; we can have the original feel of the  five major flavors which include sweet, sour, salty, umami, and bitter. Each of these flavors has their own unique gastronomic qualities as well as health indications. There is no doubt that consuming a rich balance of these flavors holds a whole lot of fundamental importance to us just as traditional cultures had earlier believed and later confirmed by modern medicine. 

However, with the overwhelming load of sugar-encrusted, salt-sprinkled… bitterness is fast vanishing from the modern palate. The lack of bitter flavor has been recognized as one of the culprits contributing to several digestion and appetite control problems. However, bringing back bitters could be the solution we need to cub every form of indigestion and other digestive problems.

What are bitters?

Bitters are the extraction of bitter seeds, herbs, roots, leaves, bark, flowers, and fruits. Historically, bitters have been used for different purposes, including using them to stimulate the senses, enhance digestion, cleanse the body, and build vitality. 

Our bodies are built for Bitters

From inception, human have evolved consuming a wide variety of wild plants, most of which were rich in the bitter flavor. With the development of industrial agriculture, in exchange for the seemingly pleasant flavors like the salty, sweet, and processed foods, the bitter flavor stripped away. This has lead to a situation where we are now devoid of bitterness in our daily diets today. However, our bodies are built for bitter flavors! Bitters engages and excites the digestive system, putting it on its toes ready for action! Bitters are like the gym for the digestive system; they help to keep it toned.

Bitter has been associated with several health benefits ranging from helping to calm stomach upset, balancing appetite, relieving occasional heartburn, increasing absorption, to helping to curb sugar cravings and many more. 

However, to understand how bitters work, we need to know few things about the bitter taste receptors; the T2Rs. 

Bitter Taste Receptors T2Rs; the Science Behind Bitters

The T2Rs are found scattered everywhere on the tongue.  When these cells are stimulated, it sends out a nerve signal to various critical areas in the brain, including the chief among them; the hypothalamus which is the primary location where the vagus nerve is born, and some other areas like part of our cortex – all perceives the bitterness. The bitter sensation is being relayed by the vagus nerve to salivary glands, stomach, liver, and pancreas encouraging the production of digestive enzymes and juices and at the same time  engages the valves situated at both ends of the stomach, these usually close up to make sure those juices are kept at the appropriate place. 

But all along in the gut,  we find more T2Rs receptors, and here, there is a shift in their roles. When bitter compounds stimulate the receptors, hormones are being secreted into our bloodstream by cells with T2Rs, therefore, contributing to our feelings of fullness and satiety. The T2Rs are not only found in the tongue or the gut; they are also found scattered in the  lungs as well as in the upper airways. There, they seem to mount a coordinated immune response at the detection of bacterial excretions tasting bitter. They are also found in our  heart as well as in the blood vessels playing one important role or the other.

A big job description for bitter taste receptors

Lets try to put the whole functions of these T2Rs receptors in a more clearer language so we can better understand how amazing bitters could be to our bodies.

These taste receptors primed their activities as being a communication system for the digestive system. When we taste something bitter in our tongues, our taste receptors are triggered. This, in turn, begins to trigger, calling out to all of the other taste receptors all the way down the digestive tract and also stimulating the digestive organs.  

This coordinated stimulation makes the esophagus become undulated, pancreas produce enzymes, the gallbladder release bile to break down fats, and also gets the intestine on their toes ready to digest the food that is about to come down the hatch.  

The amazing thing about the bitter taste receptors  is that the more you stimulate them, the more they produce, the also the healthier they become. This simply means when you include more bitter tastes in your meals, you are actually improving the function of your entire digestive tract. This, is of course, far less expensive than popping pricey pills to combat digestive problems. 

There could be a whole lot of digestive solutions locked up in taking bitter foods including being a less expensive, natural, and non-toxic relief from bloating, nausea, heartburn and many more. The best way to get bitters into our diet is by getting close to the consumption of herbal bitter. Below are more benefits of taking these bitters. 

Benefits of taking herbal bitters

#1: it encourages effective digestion

This is no doubt, the most famous benefit of taking bitters. Bitters help in ensuring proper and effective digestion of our foods by stimulating the right organs responsible for digestion. People finding it hard to digest fats have recorded a great improvement when they take bitters. Taking herbal bitters before meals do not only enhance the production of HCL needed for digestion in the stomach, it also ignites digestive fire by getting ready the pancreatic enzymes and bile while it also ensures easy bowel habits.

#2: it stimulates bile production

Herbal bitters are known to stimulate the production of bile in the liver, which hence aids effective digestion and absorption of our foods, especially fatty foods. Bile is needed for digestion of fat and it is thus necessary that there be a sufficient production of bile to aid the process of digestion. Bile encourages fat digestion as well as improves the absorption of soluble vitamins A, D, and K which have been identified as critical to our health. 

#3: it encourages less heartburn and nausea

Taking herbal bitter can help relieve occasional symptoms of heartburn and also ensures that food moves along smoothly by enhancing adequate bowel movement, which in turn gives relief for occasional nausea. 

#4: Encourages gentle, daily liver detox

One of the most active organs in our body is the liver as it works tirelessly every day. Its involved in many critical roles including ensuring swift and effective toxin removal, supports normal level of inflammation in the body, coordinates the metabolism of sugar and fats, and also involve in processing some hormones. However, at the taste of bitters on your tongue, a reflex signal is being sent through the vagus nerve directly to the liver and the entire digestive system to waking it up and ensures it stay on top of the game.

Bitters also supports the healthy release of hormones like cholecystokinin (CCK) known to stimulate gallbladder contraction. The phytochemicals present in bitters directly support liver cells by ensuring healthy bile synthesis, antioxidant production, and metabolism. 

#5: helps you break the old of sugar and carbs

A good ally in the struggle against the hold of carbs is herbal bitter. It can reframe your relationship to food. It helps support a healthy, normal appetite and gives you that feeling of fullness and satiety preventing you from overeating and the need to bite on sugars unnecessarily. At the same time, if your blood sugar levels are normal, bitter will help you ensure they remain that way.   

#6: supports a healthy and beautiful skin

When liver function is compromised, the skin tries to take up the slack. But due to the critical role played by bitters in ensuring a healthy liver function, it indirectly helps the skin to flourish and enhances fat processing in the sebaceous glands under our skin. 

#7: it is perfect to help pregnant women overcome nausea

One of the digestive ills most women face during pregnancy is nausea and having bitters by their side could be a great companion in combating this symptom. However, pregnant women need to consult their doctor before deciding to go for any brand on the market. This is because some brands are contradicted for pregnancy, including gentian and angelica.

#8: bitters are great for children

Generally, bitters are safe for children over the age of two. It helps them achieve a healthy growth and keep them away from sickness. However, the serving size given t them has to be adjusted based on their weight.  The recommended serving size for adult is 150 pounds/68 kilo, divide the childs weight in pounds by 150 and that will help you to determine the amount of serving size that will be appropriate for such child.  

That being said, its obvious to you now that bitter are meant to stay close to our sides for optimum functioning of our digestive tract. We will be doing ourselves lots of good to include herbal bitters in our daily meal. There are several brands of bitters on the market, but choosing one from a trusted brand will not only give you an assurance of safety, it will also produce the right result expected from taking it. A very good herbal bitter to consider in this case is the DiGest Forte produced by Standard process. Apart from the fact that this digestive herbal bitter is being produced by a trusted company like standard process that ensures quality in all their products, the bitter has also recorded several good reports from countless of people. 

DiGest Forte

DiGest Forte herbal bitter is a bitter tonic produced by Standard Process from a right combination of ginger, gentian, tangerine (Chen Pi) Feverfew, and wormwood. The bitter has been recognized by many people to be a perfect solution to various digestive conditions because of the combinations of compounds present in the ingredients used to make the bitter. These compounds, among many others, are pungent principles (including gingerols), secoiridoid bitter glycosides (including amarogentin and gentiopicrin), sesquiterpene lactones (including parthenolide and absinthin), monoterpenes and flavonoids.

DiGest Forte has been known to help:

  • Support healthy digestion and intestinal function
  • Stimulate appetite and secretion of gastric juice
  • Promote healthy gastrointestinal tone
  • Increase bile flow as a cholagogue
  • Cleanse the liver and skin
  • Promotes normal response to environmental stresses

This herbal bitter is just what you need to boost your digestive health and get better digestion, and absorption. You cant go wrong with choosing a bitter to compliment your meal today. Your gastrointestinal will thank you for making such decision.  


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