Gastrointestinal function has a neuro regulatory component.
Some phytochemicals, such as bitter or pungent compounds, cause a direct release of pancreatic enzymes and bile salts, due to the high concentration of receptors to detect these compounds.1
These bitter receptors were an evolutionary protective mechanism for prevention toxic substances from being ingested.1
Common bitter functional foods that can stimulate the release of pancreatic enzymes and aid with digestion include:
- Bitter Artichoke
- Dandelion roots and leaves
- Lemon juice
- Lemon Balm
- Hot pepper1
- Valussi M. Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties. Inter Jour Food Sciences and Nutrition. March 2012;63(S1):82-89. DOI: 10.3109/09637486.2011.627841.