Bitter Can Be Better

Autumn is the perfect time of year to focus on boosting your immunity. So how can your family boost its immunity? You may recall that your grandma had her own special autumn remedies that she brought out every autumn. This is when she’d start you on a regimen of cod liver or castor oil, bitters and other yucky tasting herbs and remedies. But here is the question: what is the purpose of ingesting all of this bad tasting stuff?

Mortar with herbs on wooden table

In autumn the body wants to rid itself of the junk food consumed during the summer. All of those yummy goodies like ice cream, cake, potato chips, pizza, chocolates, frappuccino and the like, must now be eliminated so that it doesn’t clog up our bodies during the more sedentary and cold seasons of deep autumn and winter. Consequently, we end up with colds or flu like symptoms as the body seeks to cleanse and rid itself of the gooey stuff (mucus) that clogs arteries and the blood stream.

This cleansing shows up in the form of mucus coming out of the body. So is it possible to avoid some colds and flu like symptoms proactively by consuming the types of foods that are more healing?  We may not be able to sidestep every cleansing.  But by being proactive with consuming healing foods, we can often avoid “violent” cleansings ~ sniffles that turn into coughing, coughing that elevates to hacking, and days of feeling really bad and being down and out.

Homemade cranberry jam in a glass jar

Here are the six different tastes the body should consume in order to stay balanced and healthy. Tastes of Food: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Pungent, and Astringent – what they are and the impact they have on the body. A guide from Eat Taste Heal.

TastePrimary ActionsCommon Sources
SweetBuilds tissues, calms nervesFruit, grains, natural sugars, milk
SourCleanses tissues, increases absorption of mineralsSour fruits, yogurt, fermented foods
SaltyImproves taste to food, lubricates tissues, stimulates digestionNatural salts, sea vegetables
BitterDetoxifies and lightens tissuesDark leafy greens, herbs and spices
PungentStimulates digestion and metabolismChili peppers, garlic, herbs and spices
AstringentAbsorbs water, tightens tissues, dries fatsLegumes, raw fruits and vegetables, herbs




Raw Organic Red Cranberries in a Bowl

While “Eat Taste Heal” looks at diet from an Ayurvedic perspective, you can include these healing tastes into your diet by simply expanding what you eat beyond sodium and sweet tastes. I was conscious of this today as I prepared fresh cranberries (you do not have to wait until Thanksgiving to eat cranberries). I have a simple recipe of slowly simmering organic cranberries spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla flavoring and cardamon.

Berries can be tart, bitter or sour but these are necessary elements that help to fortify the chemistry of our guts and helps promote wellness. I recommend adding as little sweetener to your berries as possible.  Currently abstaining from sugar I “compromised” by adding only one tablespoon maple syrup, the most healthiest of sweeteners. That small amount of sweetener took the edge off the bitterness of the cranberries without making them sweet. If you’re really brave or if your illness is serious enough, you can also go for the more powerful version, which are raw cranberries.  And can also drink unsweetened cranberries juice; just add water to dilute and make it somewhat palatable.  To begin I’d recommend 10% unsweetened cranberry juice to 90% water. So what are you doing to boost your immunity this autumn? Do you have a family practice for this time of year to boost your immunity? If so, please share them with us.


  1. Zakiyyah Zai'mah October 27, 2016 at 7:05 am

    Thanks Anu for a very informative blog. Just recently I was thinking about making some healing brews for my family for the upcoming season. Never considered cranberries – which I love – as a healing food tool. I am certainly going to add this to my seasonal healing list!

    • anu November 1, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      That is awesome Zakiyyah! Healing brews are what every family can use.

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