It is a flavor that is universally despised—we use it to mean pain and things difficult to bear. Yet, it is also a flavor used the world over to strengthen digestion, cleanse the body and build vitality—an ingredient essential to good health.
It is unfortunate, then, that our modern diet seems to be completely lacking in the wild bitter tasting plants our ancestors considered so fundamental to their health. Many of the diseases riddling our modern culture—from indigestion and gastric reflux to metabolic disorders ranging from elevated cholesterol to type 2 diabetes—seem to all point back to the deficiency of bitterness in our diets, and the lack of the protection and tone it imparts to our digestion and metabolic functions.
When a bitter substance is recognized by bitter receptors on your tongue, a chain of neural and endocrine events begins, labeled as the “bitter reflex.” Mediated by the release of the gastric hormone gastrin, this reflex results in an overall stimulation of digestive function, which over time strengthens the structure and function of all digestive organs (liver, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, etc.)
In a nutshell, bitter foods: help absorb nutrients, balances the taste buds and helps control a sweet tooth, cleanses the liver through fiber to sweep wastes through, stimulates metabolism, fight free radicals and stimulates immune function.
Try these ‘weedy’ salads: