Bitter substances belong to the secondary phytochemicals and are no micronutrients. In nutrition science, more than 30,000 different secondary phytochemicals are known; besides bitter substances mucins, essential oils and tannins. Bitter substances are a separate and completely forgotten substance class. To sum up, bitter tasting beverages, herbs and food contain bitter substances, also including the most bitter natural substance amarogentin (found in roots of the yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea)) as well as vermouth containing absinthin. Rocket, radicchio, and chicory, too, contain bitter substances.
Bitter substances have different chemical structures but all have a digestive and immune strengthening effect. Pancreas, liver and gall bladder release digestive juices and enzymes. As soon as the bitter substances reach our tongue, the production of saliva and gastric juices are stimulated. Furthermore, bitter substances reduce the desire for sweets and therewith deprive harmful intestinal fungi from food. The fungi are reduced and the intestines remain healthy.
Current studies revealed that bitter gustatory stimuli also activate the human immune system. Sweet stimuli on the other hand slow it down. Sweets rise the blood sugar level; this signalizes the body safety. Especially medicine for children tastes sugar-sweet instead of better tasting bitter. Because, a regular supply with bitter substances demonstrably enhances well-being and health.
In total, the human digestive system is about eight meters long. With five to seven meters length and 400 square meters our intestine is the largest organ. Our intestine is protected by a mucous membrane that keeps away harmful viruses, toxics, fungus and bacteria. 80 % of the total immune system are located in the intestine. Already in ancient Chinese, Indian and Egyptian cultures, people healed several diseases with purification and bitter herbs.
When taking antibiotics, the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) advices a supply of bitter substances. During treatment, the intake of antibiotics leads to a dysbiosis – a pathological imbalance of intestinal bacteria. So, in TCM they work with bitter substances instead with intestinal rehabilitation or the intake of intestinal bacteria. Goal is to influence the elimination function of the intestines so that it comes to self-healing.
A poorly functioning digestive system inevitably leads to numerous health issues. Often, an insufficient nutrient supply or the incomplete removal of toxins are the cause. The complaints start with an upset stomach, flatulence or heartburn. When you ignore the warning signs it might lead to chronical digestion problems in long term. Organs like liver, gall and pancreas might also be affected. Allergies, auto-immune-diseases, depressions, inefficiency, sleeping problems and many more often come from an unhealthy digestive system. Conversely, it can be said that each improvement of the intestine system is a contribution to a better physical and mental health. So, have you already tasted something bitter today?
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