Bitter Bliss: Elevating Your Digestive Health during Celiac Awareness Month

Written by Meg Gerber (RD, LD, IFNCP, CGN)


Bitters: what the heck are they, why they’re the GOAT for your digestive health and how to eat more of them NOW!


As per usual, I love to take an abundance-mindset approach to nutrition - focusing on the things you can ADD that optimize your gut health and reduce bloat. What’s my current obsession? Bitters!

A quick trip down memory lane…when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2013 - I was essentially told to ‘go gluten free’ and my symptoms (of constipation, acid reflux, belly pain) would just magically get better! LOL, that was not exactly the case. For those (like me) working with an autoimmune disease, there is often additional digestive support and gut repair support needed. This is because autoimmunity typically manifests as an overactive immune system that attacks itself - this can cause some residual damage to the lining of the gut and can leave the person more sensitive to certain foods, more bloated than the norm and sometimes even prone to flare episodes with pain.

BUT NOT TO FEAR - I’m here (as a functional medicine gut health RD) to give you some pro tip support that your GI doc should have told you post diagnosis (PS: these tips are great for anyone who wants to support their gut!).

From my clinical and personal experience, bitters are a win of all wins for those with celiac, IBS, or just generally those who feel more bloated!

Eating more bitter foods or utilizing digestive bitters (more to come on this) can be a super accessible, easy-win way to gently but effectively enhance your ability to digest and absorb your food.


Consuming bitter foods often and taking digestive bitters with meals has forever been my go-to natural remedy support for improving my gut health.


How I like to explain it to my clients with autoimmunity - you’re giving your body a gentle, helping hand with a process it sometimes struggles with.


Ok, so bitter foods, what are they?!


Bitter foods are plant foods that typically taste bitter and more scientifically, trigger the bitter receptors lining your digestive tract.

Why is that helpful?

For something called MOTILITY - bitters stimulate the peristaltic waves of the gut that appropriately move things along which can help you have a healthy daily poop.

PS: Healthy pooping daily is one of your most important methods of detox!

Ok so back to bitters…

I mentioned Digestive bitters above. What are they? They are herbal tinctures made from an infusion of bitter herbs and plants. They are like bitter foods on (gentle) steroids.

TL;DR: Both bitter foods and digestive bitters can be incredibly beneficial to gut health.


Other bitter benefits you’ll love:


They improve digestion and absorption of nutrients - by enhancing your own innate digestive secretions - i.e., they increase your output of things like saliva, stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and bile that help you better break down your food and reap things like proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals from your food.

They reduce gas and bloat - via stimulating peristalsis as well as blood flow to the gut; they can keep things moving where they’re supposed to go - helping you poop daily (not going daily can be a root cause behind bloat!)

They help acid reflux - specifically by tightening the sphincter muscle that sits atop the stomach to prevent food from washing back up.

They improve blood sugar - studies show since digestive bitters can trigger insulin release, they can lower post-meal blood sugar.

They can help improve liver health - due to enhancing the flow of bile from the gallbladder - bitters can support the liver in properly doing its job to sequester and release toxins and waste products.

They can diversify your healthy gut bacteria - many bitter foods, specifically things like brussels sprouts, dandelion greens, cacao and endive are also rich in prebiotic fiber - this feeds and sustains your ‘good gut guys’. 

What are some of my favorite bitter foods?


Arugula, Cabbage, Cranberries, Dandelion Greens, Grapefruit, Radicchio, Broccoli Rabe, Fresh Dill, and Citrus Peels!

What are my favorite digestive bitters?


I’m biased - because of my love of bitters I launched my own - check out JÜJ. They are a completely celiac-safe (verified <5ppm gluten), digestive bitters made with organic ingredients and meant to be taken on the tongue or in a mocktail (enjoy our low sugar mocktail recipes here!).

Some sneaky ways I eat more bitter foods often (pictured below):




My last little bitters love note: A little goes a long way - for bitter foods, you don’t need to eat copious quantities for the benefits. Shoot for sprinkles and small portions added to meals throughout the day and notice how you feel!

For digestive bitters - I recommend 1 mL (a dropperful) in a mocktail pre-meal to start. You can then experiment with some drops right on the tongue before a meal to notice their debloat magic!


Who should be cautious with digestive bitters?

Those with high risk of kidney/gallstones, hiatal hernia/gastric ulcer, or pregnant mommas. The above is not medical advice, please check with your doctor first before trying digestive bitters.


Meg Gerber RD, LD, IFNCP, CGN is a Functional Medicine Dietitian, Breath Work Teacher and Founder of Grounded Nourishment. Meg specializes in supporting women struggling with chronic digestive issues via a holistic approach that melds functional nutrition with nervous system regulation. In 2023 she co founded JÜJ, a celiac-safe, gluten free digestive bitters made with organic ingredients that are debloating and taste great. Make sure to connect with and follow Meg on IG here!