If you read the previous couple posts, you notice a common theme: enzymes are essential. It is true, though, that some experts worry you could become dependent upon enzyme supplementation. They are concerned your body may decrease, or even stop, production of it’s own magic chemical catalysts. It is not my intention to guide anyone to that kind of state! So it should be mentioned that I use enzymes after heavy protein meals and during times of uncomfortable bloat. Holiday meals are one of these times. Hell…I’m just human. I have no more self control around the goodies than anyone else. This also means I am no stranger to the discomfort from the bloating and digestive pain which may accompany this type of event. That is when I break out the slam dunk of enzymes.
But what if you have a general feeling of digestive distress?
A general feeling a gastric distress is pretty common, from I have noticed from working with clients for over 22 years now. What are you supposed to do if you are one of these people experiencing the general feelings of light indigestion? You definitely do not want to discourage your body from making these essential chemical movers and shakers. They are the secret sauce that makes the chemical bonds dissolve and free the nutrients for your body to take in.
“Bitters” is a term identifying herbs containing certain components known as tannins and other constituents which give a bitter taste to the plant. Coffee is a common bitter, tannin possessing, beverage which falls in this category. Dark chocolate, dandelion greens (one of my favorites), green tea, and more are also members of this group. As I kid, I watched a lot of old movies (hey! I had no choice! We didn’t have cable on the farm). Remember how the sophisticates in the movies of the 1950’s would have a martini before big a dinner? Vermouth serves as a spirit AND as a bitter.
The bitter flavor serves a very important purpose. When the taste receptors in your mouth recognize the bitter flavors, they send a message to your brain as an advanced warning that food is going to be coming. This gets the juices flowing. The salivary glands start putting out the waterworks, the mucous membranes in the throat get ready to coat and swallow, the stomach starts churning. The intestines pick up peristaltic action. It’s kind of like pre-heating the oven before putting the bread in. It creates favorable conditions, like the secretion of bile for fats digestion, to allow for the best possible environment to achieve maximum conversion of the food you eat.
Now, think of the grocery store you go to every day. Just how much bitter stuff do you see? Even if you stick to the outside aisles, where the least processed foods normally reside, the shelves are filled with sweet tasting treats, creamy icings, bright colored fruits and veggies. There are very few true bitters sold in these areas any more. Arugula is an example of a bitter herb/salad fixing which works to stimulate digestive functions. So next time you get a before-dinner salad, don’t pick it out and set it off to the side, eat it. Trade in that sweet dressing and use a balsamic and olive oil blend instead, perhaps.
An easy aperitif
An aperitif is an alcoholic beverage containing bitter herbs used as a pre-meal sipper. Sales is a very popular liqueur in France flavored by one of the most popular, and efficient bitters, gentian. Hops in beer is also a very efficient bitter herb. This might explain why those people of German decent drink so much of it. Just imagine how it may help the digestive tract get prepared for the sausage dishes my ancestors loved! Dark, hop-sy beers are still bitter and I do like them, a lot. However, alcoholic beverages are not always an acceptable practice, especially in the workplace. Could you imagine the backlash on that? Holy Crimeny!!
How about an extract of herbs containing these bitter wonders, instead? One of my favorites is Digestive Bitters Tonic. It is safe for adults and children alike. It may help, just as all of the above mentioned bitters, to aid in the digestion processes. It even has a touch of stevia to take the edge off the bitterness and cardamom to relax the digestive tract just a bit to ease the expulsion of gas, etc (yes – I’m talking about burping and farting).