With its warming days and sprouting greenery, Spring is a time of movement and renewal, when the sap flows and rivers run full. It is also a nice time to enhance this moving and cleansing activity in our bodies. In Classical Chinese Medicine the Liver is the organ most associated with these spreading energies of Spring.
We can optimize liver function and digestion by increasing our intake of the bitter flavor.
Including a small amount of bitter flavor with each meal ensures optimal digestion. When bitter hits the tongue it increases secretion of digestive enzymes in the stomach. Bitter flavor also improves esophageal sphincter tone, which prevents heartburn.
Bitter flavor receptors line the entire GI tract.
Bitter foods promote bile flow from the gallbladder, which is important for breaking down fats. This enhances the absorption of our fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K. Additionally, cholesterol is secreted into bile to be eliminated from the body.
Bitters also enhance the release of pancreatic enzymes, which further digests our fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, preventing fermentation and gas. They also support appropriate GI microbial flora. Lastly, bitters promote the release of hormones that signal satiety, preventing overeating.
Incorporate bitters with each meal to enhance digestion.
Enjoy a steamed artichoke, a handful of baby arugula, a radicchio salad, or add dandelion greens or escarole to soup. You can also take advantage of the many varieties of cocktail bitters. A few dashes in a glass of sparkling water feels like a cocktail but acts like a health tonic.
May you reap the benefits of a happy and healthy digestion! Cheers to your spring cleaning!