Bitter Foods – Against Cravings & for Immune Defense!

“Bitter in the mouth – is health in the stomach”, is an old saying in German folk medicine [“Was bitter im Mund, ist dem Magen gesund.”]. However, many lettuces, herbs and vegetables, which naturally contained bitter substances, have been altered in their taste and thus, nutrition – since nowadays mild, sweet or sour are the favorite flavors. But our organism demands the exact opposite: bitter substances. These are essential for a healthy metabolism.

Bitter substances belong to the secondary plant substances and serve to protect the plant from predators. However, the bioactive functions are also important for the human organism.

It is known that bitter substances from angelica root, gentian etc. have digestive characteristics and strengthen the liver. They trigger increased secretion of saliva and digestive juices via the taste receptors at the base of the tongue, thus promoting (fat) digestion and a faster onset of the feeling of fullness and satiety. But that’s not all – they activate intestinal peristalsis, act against pathological germs and strengthen the immune system. In addition, they curb cravings for sweets and can even reduce fever.

Especially old varieties of vegetables, many lettuces and medicinal herbs provide the right ingredients. The stomach, liver and gall bladder in particular benefit from their richness in bitter substances. Via the autonomic nervous system, bitter substances also activate and regulate the heart and circulation; the brain, skin and tissues are consequently better supplied with blood. Since over 80 percent of our immune cells are located in the mucous membrane of the large intestine, bitter substances also have a direct effect on the body’s defenses via the digestive tract. Finally, bitter substances help with headaches, menopausal complaints, cramps, chronic fatigue, rheumatism and gout.

Cleansing from within

The Romans already valued bitter substances as an elixir of life, stimulant and remedy and used, for example, preparations of centaury. In Indian Ayurveda, too, bitter foods have had a reputation for harmonizing all other flavors and balancing human health for more than 3,000 years. In the Middle Ages, Hildegard von Bingen recommended local herbs with a bitter taste in her recipes, and Paracelsus also knew that bitter substances “clean the body from within” by activating the mucous membrane of the digestive tract, keeping it flexible, elastic and clean. Stimulated this way, the body excretes toxins much better on the one hand and absorbs nutrients and vitamins more easily on the other hand – which is particularly important in fall to start the winter fit, fresh and lively.

Bitter substances to strengthen the immune system

A weakened immune system opens the door to colds, flu and sore throats. A tea made from sage and thyme, however, whips the immune system into shape. Simply mix one teaspoon each of dried sage and thyme per cup, pour in hot water and steep for eight to ten minutes. As with any medicinal tea, drink unsweetened to really feel the bitter substances.

Vital with bitter herbs and lettuce

So for all we know, we say “let’s go for the bitter foods!” But how, when the majority of them has been bred out of foods? Your personal Metabolic Balance plan usually includes a variety of bitter vegetables and fruits, so if you eat a varied diet, you will be supplied with small doses of bitter substances every day, allowing you to benefit from them in the long run.

Tips to increase the content of bitter substances in nutrition:

  • frequently use vegetables and lettuce (radicchio, chicory, arugula, artichokes, endive) in your daily diet
  • use more often fruits containing bitter substances such as grapefruit, orange, lemon, pomelo
  • use spices such as ginger, galangal, pepper, cumin, mustard, cardamom in food preparation
  • enrich salads and vegetables with fresh herbs (thyme, marjoram, lovage, rosemary) and wild herbs (sorrel, purslane, dandelion, etc.)
  • drink green tea or rooibos tea regularly

Tip in case of acute cravings for sweets

Do you have an extreme craving for sweets after a meal? Then it’s worth counteracting with bitter substances.

A strong espresso often helps, as the bitter substances it contains make the sweet craving disappear after a short time. You should also always have so-called “bitter drops” or bitter elixir within reach for such cases. A few drops are enough.

Healthy Nutrition against Migraine Pain

For people affected, migraine is a nightmare. 10 to 15% of all adults are afflicted by a migraine attack at least once a year. In women, the phenomenon appears more often than in men. There are two main forms: Headache attacks without any sign and – in up to a third of those affected – those with an aura as a harbinger. In this case, symptoms such as impaired vision and speech or tingling or dizziness signal the approaching migraine about 30-60 minutes beforehand. More than 90% of these people are unable to work or go about their daily lives during a migraine onset that can last between four hours up to three days.

What are the symptoms of migraine?

Migraine is a neurological disease that is one of the most common causes of chronic pain, absenteeism from work and a reduced quality of life. In migraine, our brain reacts particularly sensitive. It is not uncommon for the throbbing and pounding headaches to escalate to extremes, tearing at our state of health. Additional accompanying symptoms of a migraine can be feeling of sickness, nausea or vomiting. Many sufferers also complain of great sensitivity to noise and light and therefore prefer darkened rooms during a migraine attack.

What triggers a migraine?

The causes that trigger migraine have not yet been clarified in detail. However, it is certain that there is a genetic predisposition to migraine. Furthermore, stress, hormonal fluctuations and diet are mentioned as triggers. An attack can also be triggered by a change in the sleep rhythm, i.e. too much or too little sleep.

A causal treatment and thus a cure for migraine is not yet possible today because of the many triggers. In addition, the exact mechanisms of its development have not yet been sufficiently clarified. However, changes in lifestyle and dietary behavior can keep migraine attacks at bay, so that they are less severe and do not occur as frequently.

Those affected should therefore pay attention to a regular daily routine. This applies to both eating and sleeping. Relaxation techniques such as Jacobsen’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation and sporting activities have also proved effective in coping with stress in everyday life.

Healthy Nutrition
against
Migraine Pain

What to eat with migraine?

Many sufferers are sensitive to foods that contain high levels of tyramine and histamine. Histamine is formed by fermentation processes from the amino acid histidine and tyramine from the amino acid tyrosine. Especially chocolate, well-ripened cheese, salami but also sauerkraut, canned fish and citrus fruits contain either tyramine or histamine. In addition, caffeine, certain proteins in dairy products, preservatives in convenience foods, or the flavor enhancer glutamate can also be linked to migraine attacks. The biogenic amines (tyramine, histamine and glutamine) are apparently trigger factors that promote the development of migraine. In combination with alcoholic beverages such as red wine, sparkling wine or beer, the effect of these biogenic amines is additionally intensified.

In order to prevent migraine attacks by nutrition, it is also primarily a matter of compensating for a lack of energy in the brain. A balanced diet with healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and sufficient proteins is therefore recommended. It is also important to eat regularly and not to skip a meal.

More sea fish and green vegetables

Studies have shown that a good supply of magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids is particularly beneficial, as these substances can have a positive effect on migraine. While magnesium is involved in all energy-generating enzyme reactions in the body and also plays an important role in the transmission of stimuli between muscles and nerves, omega-3 fatty acids inhibit inflammatory reactions, among other things.

In a study involving a total of 182 adults who suffered from frequent migraine attacks, the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids in connection with migraine was confirmed. The subjects were divided into three groups and received nutrition plans over a period of 16 weeks, which differed in the fact that one group of subjects received a high proportion of fatty fish and a low proportion of linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid). The second group, on the other hand, received meals that contained a high proportion of fatty fish and also a high proportion of linoleic acid. The third group received meals containing a high proportion of linoleic acid and a low proportion of omega-3 fatty acids.

At the beginning of the study, the participating subjects had an average of more than 16 headache days per month and more than five hours of migraine pain per headache day. In addition, they had initial values that showed severe impairment in quality of life despite taking multiple headache medications.

Evaluation of the study showed that the group of subjects with a high proportion of fatty fish and low linoleic acid content tended to reduce total headache days per month by 30 to 40 percent compared to the control groups.

Suitable foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fish as well as linseed, walnut and rapeseed oils. Abundant magnesium is found in nuts, legumes, green vegetables or cereal germs.

Metabolic Balance and Migraine

The dietary change according to Metabolic Balance in connection with migraine has often proved positive for sufferers in the past. This is because the nutritional concept brings about a metabolic change through the individual combination of foods and, through its rules, brings clear order back into the eating behavior of those affected, which, according to the results of a study, can have an extremely positive effect on their general well-being.

The advantages of the Metabolic Balance nutritional concept for migraine patients are obvious: A nutrition according to Metabolic Balance produces fewer stress hormones, the participants become more balanced and relaxed, which leads to a significant reduction in pain attacks.

In addition, the overall hormonal balance is improved, from which women with a menstrual migraine benefit in particular.

Histamine intolerance, a known trigger for migraine, can also be improved by a nutrition according to Metabolic Balance. The special selection of foods can correct any possible bacterial dyscolonization of the intestine by strengthening bacterial strains, such as Bifidobacterium infantis or Bifidobacterium longum, which are said to have a histamine-lowering effect. 

In addition, the nutritional concept brings a clear regularity and order back into eating behavior and life by recommending three meals a day with at least a five-hour break in between. Thanks to the new, clear rhythm in their lives, the participants unanimously feel more balanced and resilient.

Sources:

Christopher E Ramsden, Daisy Zamora, Keturah R Faurot, Beth MacIntosh, Mark Horowitz et al.: Dietary alteration of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for headache reduction in adults with migraine: randomized controlled trial, in BMJ (veröffentlicht 01.07.2021), BMJ

NIH/National Institute on Aging: Consuming a diet with more fish fats, less vegetable oils can reduce migraine headaches (veröffentlicht 30.06.2021), NIH/National Institute on Aging

Metabolic Balance and Fasting

Different versions of fasting have become very popular in recent years, some more or less extreme than others. Metabolic Balance® is a world renowned personalized nutrition program that has pioneered a gentle 5 hour fast between meals. What are a few of the reasons we encourage a fasting period?

– ensures food from the last meal is properly digested
– blood sugar and insulin to return to normal levels before rising again at the next meal
– lower levels of insulin promotes fat burning, which helps with weight management and may help protect against chronic diseases*.

Get in touch to see if your personalized Metabolic Balance® program can help support your long term health!

Reference:
Grajower & Horne (2019) Clinical management of intermittent fasting in patients with diabetes mellitus. Nutrients. 11(4):873

Adapted: Metabolic Balance Australia and New Zealand

Vitamin D

Do you also wonder why you often catch a cold in the cold season, even though you eat healthy and get enough exercise? 
The reason may be a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is important for the immune system, but it can only be produced in the skin with the help of sunlight.  
So in the gloomy months, you are bound to have a vitamin D deficiency and should take the sunshine vitamin as a dietary supplement in consultation with your doctor.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to remedy an acute vitamin D deficiency through diet alone. In the overall vitamin D balance, the vitamin D ingested through food takes up only 10-20% of the total required. Of course, there’s still no harm in trying to supplement your own balanced diet with vitamin D-containing foods.

Pumpkin Apple Casserole

This sweet and savory casserole is perfect for a cool fall day!

Ingredients:

1 egg
1 serving of pumpkin
1 apple
Spices: cinnamon, caraway seeds, chili, curry powder, some fiery paprika powder, fresh parsley
1/3 cup (75 ml) vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Preparation:
Wash pumpkin, remove seeds and cut into 3/4″ thick slices and halve them again. Wash the apple, remove the seeds and cut into thin slices. If you’re allowed to use oil, grease a small fireproof casserole dish with some oil, otherwise layer pumpkin and apple slices without the oil. Season everything well with the spices. Add the vegetable stock and cook in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes whisk the egg, season to taste and add chopped parsley. Add a little water to the egg and pour it over the pumpkin and apple slices. Bake again for 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Photo: Unsplash

Squash

The fall and winter are the perfect seasons to take advantage of the many different delicious varieties of squash. From pumpkins to spaghetti squash, each type of squash is packed full of nutrients and perfect in comforting fall or winter dishes. Spaghetti squash has a unique texture, similar to noodles and is delicious with a marinara sauce. Butternut squash meanwhile is perfect for soups or in casserole dishes. To learn more about different uses of squash and their nutritional benefits check out the infographic below.

Photo: SelectHealth

Personalized Nutrition

Do you know which foods make your body happy and healthy? At Metabolic Balance we combine results from a blood test along with your health history to craft a nutrition plan optimized to your metabolism and body. Are you ready to feel the best you have ever felt? Get in touch with one of our certified coaches to get started. What are you waiting for?

Strength Of Your Immune System

Did you know how closely your body weight and your immune system are connected? In simple words it can be said that a healthy body weight and balanced diet usually increases defense strength, whereas an overweight organism is often susceptible to infections. The more overweight a person is, the more drastic is the effect on the immune system. Obesity and visceral abdominal fat often cause chronic inflammatory processes that put so much strain on the immune system that there is no strength left to fight off the autumn and winter viruses! One of the best ways to strengthen your immune system is to eat a balanced diet personalized to your body such as a personal Metabolic Balance nutrition plan.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup is a real classic in fall. With this recipe you can cook a simple variation, which you can reinvent time and again with difference combinations of herbs and spices.

Ingredients:
1 serving pumpkin
1 tbsp. chopped onions
1 chopped garlic clove
Salt , freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups (300 ml) vegetable broth
Rapeseed oil

Preparation:
Brown the onions and garlic in oil, sauté the washed, seeded and chopped pumpkin for about 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Add vegetable broth and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Purée and season to taste. The soup can be enhanced with some coconut milk (suitable for later Phases). 

Depending on your liking and taste, you can add different combinations of ginger, lemongrass, rosemary, curry or other delicious herbs and spices and season with salt and pepper.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a winter squash native to North America and is one of the oldest domestic plants. This type of squash is popular in the fall and winter especially around Halloween and Thanksgiving. Pumpkin is packed full of vitamins and minerals and has many health benefits. It is rich in beta-carotene which the body uses to produce Vitamin A, as well as Vitamin C. Both vitamins are important for fighting infections and supporting the immune system. Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids which are important antioxidants. In the kitchen, pumpkins are a really versatile ingredient great in both sweet and savory applications. They are great roasted, in soups, in pasta dishes, or casseroles. In sweet applications pumpkin is great in oatmeal, smoothies, and desserts. What is your favorite way to use pumpkin?

Photo: Unsplash