The pre-dinner drink, the Aperitif has recently made a come back in popularity. The aperitif concept has been around for centuries, dating back to the ancient Egyptians drinking a small amount of alcohol before meals. Records show that around the 16th century, herbs and spices were mixed with spirits for many medicinal purposes and by the 18th century, the aperitif became a popular social tradition in numerous parts of Europe. The word aperitif originates from the Latin word ‘apertitiuvum’ meaning opener. The bitter ingredients in an aperitif are known to aid and improve digestion.
‘Whetting the appetite’ with a drink before dinner is a well known saying and has long been related to stimulating the flow of gastric juices, therefore improving the whole digestion process.
What Alternatives Are There To an Aperitif?
Obviously in our hectic 21st century lifestyles, it is hard enough to fit in an after dinner drink, let alone a drink before dinner and so is there a way of getting the beneficial digestive effects of an aperitif without having to spend the time socialising and drinking alcohol before every meal? The exciting answer is yes. Herbs classed as stomach bitters are useful for all types of digestion problems but especially when digestion is sluggish. The bitter flavour of the herb with the taste bud on the tongue initiates a sequence of physiological actions that improve the digestion process. The bitter flavour causes increased secretion of digestive enzymes in the stomach and at the same time, the hormone gastrin is secreted by the wall of the stomach, increasing gut motility and allowing food to pass out of the stomach more easily. The bitter flavour of the herbs prime the digestive tract, meaning the stomach is ready for the incoming food, improving digestion and subsequently decreasing any symptoms of indigestion.
It is estimated that over 40% of the population have suffered from the symptoms of indigestion at some point in their lives. Most cases of indigestion have been shown to be related to eating and in approximately 70% of all patient’s with indigestion, no disease can be found which means that in the majority of cases indigestion, is a minor complaint that can be self treated.
What Indigestion Remedies Are Available?
Symptoms of indigestion vary greatly from one person to another. Some may experience slight upper abdominal discomfort whilst others may experience severe pain lasting a lot longer. Some may experience bloating or feeling full soon after finishing a meal whilst others may feel this fullness before even starting a meal. Just as there are a number of different indigestion symptoms, there are a wide range of indigestion remedies available to help with and prevent the troublesome symptoms of indigestion.
Some common indigestion remedies include:
- Antacids. There are a number of different antacids available with a variety of brand names. These usually contain the alkalis aluminium or magnesium which exert their effect by neutralising stomach acid.
- Alginates such as sodium alginate aid indigestion symptoms such as acid reflux by forming a raft like layer that floats on the surface of the stomach.
- H2 Receptor antagonists act by blocking a chemical called histamine that enables the stomach cells to produce acid, therefore lowering acid levels in the stomach.
- Proton pump inhibitors reduce gastic acid by completely blocking the enzyme system that produces acid in the stomach.
- Herbal remedies such as centaurium, (a component of bitter liqueurs, in particular vermouth, a fortified wine flavoured with a mixture of herbs and spices) artichoke and dandelion have traditionally been used to relieve the symptoms of indigestion. These herbs are commonly known as ‘stomach bitters’ and it is through their bitter taste they are thought to exert their action by stimulating the taste buds to produce more saliva, increasing production of digestive enzymes, priming the digestive tract for the arrival of food in the stomach and therefore helping to reduce any symptoms of indigestion.
Summary of Indigestion Remedies and Aperitif
Above, you will be able to find what alternative remedies are available to treat indigestion. Comment below If you have anything to say or give us suggestions about aperitif or indigestion remedies.