Bitters and how do they work:
So why would we have bitters? Bitter tastes are usually produced by plants to protect themselves against predators, plants produce chemical compounds, many of which are bitter tasting and even poisonous. That is why we have a negative reaction to bitters (to protect us from being poisoned). But bitter is one of the original four basic tastes that also include sweet, sour and salty, and like everything has a range – subtle to aggressive . Think back to your first experience with something bitter - it may have been beer/coffee/gin. After repeated ‘exposure’ you got used to it …
We possess 40-80 types of bitter taste receptors and we have these receptors all through our body even in our brain! Our bitter taste receptors trigger reflexes to help coordinate the secretion of digestive juices, including enzymes and bile. They line our intestinal mucous membrane, where they trigger the release of hormones which determine how full we feel and our blood sugar balance.
By stimulating these receptors it helps with protecting us from harmful substances by activating things called efflux pumps (within cells). Bitter taste receptors ensure that harmful substances are kept in the GI tract, not absorbed, and excreted before they can do damage (refer back to Your liver and your immunity post- Part 1)
The bitter taste receptors in our airways seem to be part of an important immune mechanism that safely helps us handle microbial threats. It is interesting to note that bitter taste receptors are abundant on the heart, where their activation may contribute to regulating blood flow, especially after a meal!
Basically - everything in our body is connected and our body does an AMAZING job of working/eliminating what it needs to do to keep us well. We don’t believe in intense ‘detoxes’ or extreme diets to help your liver, we prefer daily support to help it do what it does best, and plants are the best medium for that. Be it through increasing your dark green leafy vegetable intake, having bitter plants to support your liver’s natural elimination pathways, or taking 'bitters' in tincture form such as our Liver bitters- All of which will be talked about in the next post.