At this time of year, many of us begin anticipating rich holiday meals, an abundance of sugary treats and perhaps increased alcohol intake.

Sound familiar? It turns out that many cultures around the world have a built-in “aperitif” custom that actually has a positive physiologic function in your digestive tract and counteracts our indulgences - sans alcohol!

It all starts with “bitter” receptors on the tongue that respond by promoting the secretion of digestive juices. Digestive juices contain a host of key substances such as stomach acid, bile, and enzymes which are necessary to break down food and promote optimal absorption of nutrients.

The fun part is that you can accomplish this all from being creative in your kitchen. All you need is an organic pure juice, sparkling or flat water and bitters such as Angostura. These days, there are many different bitters with unique flavors. Apple Cider Vinegar with the “mother” or a shrub (fruit vinegar) are also great mixers.

What do these digestive “bitter” drinks do?
-They can improve digestion by promoting bile and digestive enzymes. Bile helps to break down fat.
-They can regulate blood sugar and prevent overeating
-They can aid the body in detoxifying unwanted byproducts.

These bitter concoctions are a great way to keep your digestive functioning optimal during the holidays but it’s a valuable ritual to instill throughout the whole year. I look forward to these drinks as I come home from work and start preparing dinner for my family.

Dr. Clara’s Bitter Mix:
½ cup organic pomegranate juice
½ cup Zevia
1 cup sparkling water
5 drops Angostura bitters
1 tsp Bragg’s apple cider vinegar or shrub