Sugar: the mouth and brain crave it, the guts do not.
I don't know where this phrase originated, but it sure contains a lot of wisdom:
"Sweet to the tongue, bitter to the stomach. Bitter to the tongue, sweet to the stomach."
The first part refers our society's love affair with all things sugary. Now, don't get me wrong, I like my sweets every now and then. But in the face of societal epidemics heavily relating to lifestyle choices, we could all benefit from realizing and acting upon the common knowledge that too much sugar in the diet wrecks our body in many ways. A few examples of this are blood sugar mishandling leading to diabetes, an overabundance of inflammatory reactions (see my earlier article on inflammation), insidious damage to the liver leading to many metabolic issues such as high blood lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides) and a weakened immune system. Sweets just aren't that sweet to us.
Arugula is a good bitter appetizer.
Now there's a million and one ways to combat the amount of sugar in one's diet, most of that being through diet change. Along with a healthy exercise regimen, including botanical, vitamin and pharmaceutical intervention when necessary, we can do a lot to counter the effect of our diet being "bitter to the stomach."
So what does tasting bitterness have to do with helping the stomach? Well, when the tongue receives bitter signals (herbal bitters before meals, or with other botanical or food choices) this starts the digestive fire, and sends messages all over the body to expect a meal. The stomach then starts firing up, and all the other digestive organs (gall bladder, pancreas and the intestines further down the digestive tract) get clued into what's going and are then prepared for the digestive process.
This whole cascade of processes is greatly helped by preceding each meal with a small amount of bitters. This idea complements and builds upon my preceding article on being a food connoisseur. When the whole body, from brain to guts, has gotten the signal to be expecting a meal, then one's body is primed to optimally digest that meal- the way it was intended to function.
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Every meal is a choice; please consider choosing wisely.
Food and Health. The two are inextricably linked. A significant aspect of the disease epidemics currently plaguing our society is born from a lack of appreciation for the basics that sustain and nurture us: good food, clean air, exercise and love.
Treat each meal like a wine connoisseur does wine: take your time to know its source, recognize those who made the product and savor all the complexity of our meals. Wine connoisseurs study, appreciate and savor wines over the course of years and decades, just to gain a deeper and richer understanding for what amounts to an alcoholic beverage made of grapes. Doesn't our food merit the same level of appreciation?
How many meals to you eat each year? Maybe around 1,000? And how much time have you spent trying to get the best possible quality for that which, at the most basic level, is the components from which our body creates each and every cell, enzyme and metabolic process? Isn't your body worth the effort?
I say that we all could use more attention to detail when it comes to our food. After all, aren't you worth it? I should think so. Eat like your life depends on it!
I welcome all of your comments, questions and perspectives on what I write here, and about the larger subject of natural medicine as well. Please write a quick note on the Contact page, I look forward to hearing from you!