May 18, 2024

Ever wondered about those after-dinner drinks called “digestifs”? We explore their history, taste profiles, and the science behind their supposed digestive benefits.

What are Digestifs?

  • In French, “digestif” simply means “digestive.” They’re typically enjoyed after a meal, often boasting high alcohol content and robust flavors.
  • From bitter amaro to sweet liqueurs and aged liquors, a wide variety exists, all aiming to aid digestion.
  • While more prevalent in Europe, you can find them on US menus or stock your own bar.

Popular Types:

  • Aged liquors: Añejo tequilas, brandy
  • Liqueurs: Amaro, Fernet, limoncello, Grand Marnier
  • Fortified wines: Port, sherry, sweet vermouth
  • Non-alcoholic: Balsamic vinegar (diluted, with probiotics!)

Enjoying Digestifs:

  • Bartenders recommend 1-2 oz pours at room temperature after or with dessert.
  • Cocktails like boozy coffees or Negronis Sbagliatos offer twists.
  • Consider digestifs as unique host gifts for fellow drinkers.

Do They Actually Work?

  • While some older research suggests bitter ingredients might help prevent indigestion, there’s no direct evidence digestifs aid digestion.
  • Perceived benefits may come from soothing herbs and spices, the placebo effect, or slower meal pace (less bloating/gas).

Science-backed Gut Support:

  • Walk after meals: Helps with blood sugar, reduces bloating and reflux.
  • Skip carbonation: Avoids post-meal gas and bloating.
  • Eat mindfully: Don’t overeat or undereat; choose smaller, frequent meals rich in fruits, veggies, and water.
  • Gut-friendly foods: Oats, pineapple, chia seeds

The Verdict:

Digestifs offer a flavorful way to end a meal. Enjoy them if you like the taste, but don’t rely on them for actual digestive improvement. Implement the science-backed tips above for true gut health support

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