The Weird Food Supermodels Eat For Great Digestion, Balanced Hormones & Glowing Skin
Dr. Charles Passler is the man responsible for keeping supermodels like Bella Hadid, Adriana Lima, and Amber Valletta feeling nourished and energized and looking ready to hop in front of the camera at any moment. While he relies on a number of dietary protocols to treat various ailments, there's one oft-overlooked category of foods he always recommends to his clients with digestive issues, skin concerns, hormonal problems, and allergies: bitter herbs.
What do bitter foods actually do in your body?
According to Dr. Passler, bitter herbs and foods improve health in three main ways: "They activate bitter receptors on the tongue, which in turn activates cells in your stomach to normalize acid production for better digestion. When this happens, bile production and digestive enzyme production are improved as well. Proper bile production is essential for detoxifying the liver, excretion of heavy metals from your body, hormone balance, and bowel regularity. Digestive enzymes are essential for extracting and absorbing nutrients from your food. They can also help to reduce the number of unfriendly bacteria in your intestines. Finally, bitter foods also tend to be rich in antioxidants, which help to reduce inflammation."
He starts clients with bitter greens like endive, dandelion greens, broccoli raab, escarole, spinach, mustard greens, and kale. "Many people will add sweeteners like sugary salad dressings to overcome the bitterness, but I’m not a big fan of recommending extra sugar to my patients," he says. "Preparing them with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh garlic is a good option to improve the taste." The fat is important for mellowing any starkly bitter flavor; lemon juice also works wonders to cut and balance the bitterness of greens, whether it's in soups, smoothies, or a quick sauté. If you're not a fan of bitter greens, Dr. Passler also recommends lemons, limes, grapefruits, pepper, ginger, turmeric, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and sage.
How much bitter food should a person consume daily for optimal results?
Dr. Passler recommends that a whopping 20 percent of a person's plate at each meal be bitter foods. The good news: If you can incorporate them regularly, you might experience the same benefits as his supermodel clients including:
- Improved skin quality
- Less digestive upset and fewer food sensitivities
- Bowel regularity
- Reduced symptoms of PMS
- Noticeably better sleep
Given that you likely have a number of these foods in your kitchen, it's worth playing around—adding some lime juice and zest to your morning smoothie; sipping on ginger tea; sautéing some broccoli raab with salt, fresh garlic, and olive oil until they're wilted and dark green, then squeezing some fresh lemon juice to brighten it at the end. Your body—and your palate—will thank you.
Wanna get cooking? This bitter adaptogenic elixir is a great place to start.
Liz Moody is an author, blogger and recipe developer living in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody has written two cookbooks: Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best. She also hosts the Healthier Together Podcast, where she chats with notable chefs, nutritionists, and best-selling authors about their paths to success. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Food & Wine & Women’s Health.