Don’t be weighed down by heavy meals and sugary treats this holiday season. Instead, try a bitter aperitif to help reduce indigestion, nausea, extra pounds and much more. Designed to improve digestion and detoxify the body, herbal bitters ease the complaints of poor food choices. But bitters are not only for those times of overindulgence — even when the diet is in top form, these tonics support universal vigor and health
Time-honored recipe for health
The first record of a bitter tonic is attributed to Swiss Renaissance physician Paracelsus, but many believe bitters originated much earlier in ancient Babylon and Egypt. Jonathan Samst, an 18th century Swedish doctor, developed the classic “Swedish Bitters” we know today. Considered a panacea, bitters are said to:
- Aid in detoxification
- Encourage biliary, gastric and pancreatic activity
- Stimulate the liver
- Tone and regenerate the digestive system
- Eliminate bloating, cramps, nausea and flatulence
- Purify and disinfect the intestinal tract
- Alleviate inflammation
- Ease constipation
- Cleanse the blood
- Boost energy levels
- Improve immune function
- Soothe depression
An untroubled liver is the secret to weight loss
When the liver is happy, overall well-being improves and healthy weight is maintained. If the liver becomes congested with fat due to excessive carbohydrate and sugar consumption, a vicious cycle ensues. As extra pounds are packed on, toxins and fat increasingly clog the liver — creating even more inefficiency and leading to further weight gain.
Bitters break this cycle by detoxifying the liver and increasing bile along with stomach acids. Digestion becomes more efficient and metabolism is given a boost which limits the storage of excess body fat.
Festive holidays without the bloat
During the holiday season, it is easy to fall off the wagon of healthful eating and indulge in rich, sugary and carbohydrate laden fare. The digestive system rebels through flatulence, cramping and bloating. Not to fret, however — bitters can help save the day. By revving up the digestive system before or immediately after a big meal, bitters alleviate many of the distressing side effects of holiday excess. According to the Candida Diet website:
“When you take bitters, what you’re really trying to do is stimulate the bitter receptors on your tongue. This is what triggers the production of the digestive enzymes. These bitter receptors are located towards the back of your tongue, so that’s exactly where the bitters need to go … Alternatively you can put the drops in water and drink them that way.”
A word of caution: Do not use bitters for more than two weeks at a time. The presence of berberine in Oregon grape root and goldenseal can damage the intestinal lining if taken for extended periods. Potassium levels can become depleted as well which triggers high blood pressure.
Live a little
Of course, it is best to strive for a clean and healthy diet a majority of the time. But for those occasions when we need a little intervention to off-set a treat here or there, bitters are an excellent choice. In the words of Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating:
“The holidays are for celebrating. It’s a time to open up. ‘The Feast’ is a theme in life, and virtually every culture with a written record and a long history has it’s feast times when they celebrate full force with food, with music, with dance, with pleasure…”
So go for it. Just don’t forget the bitters.