Why Bitter Foods May Be The Key To Immunity

Bitter foods get a bad rap sometimes. When compared to foods with other flavor profiles, acidic foods tend to get dismissed or overlooked in the culinary world. That's because they usually don't elicit the same kind of salivating response as sweet, savory, and umami foods. However, they might actually be better for you than you think (via Mindbodygreen). As it turns out, pungent foods may help boost your immunity and support your immune function.

In addition to being highly nutritious, bitter foods can trigger a distinct physiological response that can affect your immunity. Just as sweet foods tend to trigger cravings and immune surveillance, bitter foods can activate satiety, detoxification, and immune rejuvenation. While some bitter foods and beverages like grapefruit, coffee, and beer with hops are already linked to a variety of established health benefits, emerging evidence indicates that others can boost your immunity by improving your gut health.

Bitter foods may improve gut health

That's because bitter foods may have a positive affect on the acids in your stomach. According to integrative health expert Dr. Taz Bhatia, sharp-tasting foods "may help to stimulate the digestive system and improve the absorption of food." Believe it or not, bitter foods can trigger the production of stomach acid, which can help facilitate the digestive process. Bhatia told NBC News that this may escalate the development of digestive enzymes in the stomach, which can prevent food malabsorption and leaky gut — a condition that causes food particles to leak out of the intestines.

They can act as prebiotics in the gut microbiome by stimulating the growth of healthy gut bacteria. If you're looking to introduce more bitter, immune-boosting foods into your diet, Bhatia recommends eating Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe, arugula, kale, dandelion greens, radicchio, and cranberries. Herbs like mint and yellow dock may also help benefit your gut health and immune system.