Why loving bitter foods is good for you

Alison Tehan Nutrition / bloating  / Why loving bitter foods is good for you

Why loving bitter foods is good for you

When it comes to food it can sometimes feel too easy to focus on the sweet and savory while bitter foods are often overlooked in our diet. One of the most harmful shifts in our diet over the past 50 years has been the persistent increase in the sweetness of our foods. This trend has led to a significant consequence: a growing sensitivity or aversion to bitter foods.

Bitter foods may not be an obvious first choice, but from a nutritionist, their inclusion in our diet is crucial for maintaining optimal health, gut health, and promoting healthy bile flow.

Before going into the benefits of eating bitter foods, let’s talk about the importance of bile. Bile is a digestive fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It plays a crucial role in breaking down fats and aiding in their absorption. Low bile production can cause many unpleasant digestive symptoms including nausea, bloating and diarrhoea.

Bitter foods stimulate the production and release of bile. Bitterness is a signal to the body that digestion is about to begin, prompting the liver and gallbladder to release bile in preparation for the incoming nutrients. This process not only aids in the digestion of fats but also helps prevent gallstones, and supports liver function.

Benefits of Bitter foods

  1. Improved digestion: Bitter foods, such as rocket, kale, and dandelion greens, contain compounds that activate bitter receptors in the mouth. This, in turn, signals the digestive system to ramp up bile production, facilitating the breakdown of fats and promoting smoother digestion.
  2. Liver support: Bitter herbs like gentian and milk thistle are known for their liver-supportive properties. These herbs can help optimise liver function, ensuring efficient bile production and secretion.
  3. Balanced cholesterol levels: Bile plays a vital role in cholesterol metabolism. Adequate bile flow helps remove excess cholesterol from the body, contributing to a healthier lipid profile and reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues.
  4. Regulation of appetite: Bitter foods have been linked to improved appetite regulation. By promoting the release of digestive juices, they enhance the overall digestive process, leaving us feeling more satisfied and reducing the likelihood of overeating.
  5. Its antibacterial properties (this is what makes it especially helpful for lowering the risk of small intestine bacterial overgrowth)

How to incorporate bitter foods in your diet

Embracing bitter foods can be easy by just incorporating a variety of bitter foods with your meals. Your body will thank you as they also change your tastebuds so you don’t crave such sweet food.

Personally I love adding rocket to everything. Especially in Summer a rocket salad with avocado and pine nuts is an amazing side with any meal. I also add rocket leaves to pizza, eggs – literally everything.

Here are 6 of my favourite bitter foods that you can try to add to your meals that will promote bile flow

  • Rocket
  • Dandelion greens
  • Ginger
  • Burdock root
  • Radicchio
  • Dark chocolate
  • Rocket

Incorporating these foods will not only help your digestion but also your food preferences and how well you feel after meals. Give it a try and let me know how you feel.