Mysteries are intriguing (hey, brooding gym guy) but when it comes to what goes into our bodies, we like things clear-cut: 93 per cent of Aussies agree all food should have labels detailing its source, according to research by Lilydale.
The same goes for any supplements we pop – which is how I found myself in a field in sunny Spain checking out artichokes. The reason? An invitation from health and wellness brand Swisse to dust off my passport and see where it sources artichoke as a natural ingredient for its products.
Full disclaimer: I’d never really give artichoke much thought before the trip. Sure, I’d sometimes have it on a pizza or in a salad at a restaurant, but it’s never once found a spot in my supermarket shop. Turns out I should’ve been stocking up.
Globe artichoke (as opposed to the Jerusalem kind, which actually isn’t even an artichoke at all) is a long-standing herbal go-to for its choleretic properties – in regular speak, how it helps increase bile production, which is a really good thing, especially for our digestion.
“Our livers produce bile, which is stored in our gall bladders and helps us digest and metabolise fats,” explains Antoinette-Louise Barnado, Technical Manager of Innovation at Swisse. “Artichoke can also help support digestion by relieving symptoms such as bloating an indigestion.”
In a 2003 study by Germany’s University of Dulsburg-Essen, participants with the digestive condition functional dyspepsia who took artichoke leaf extract over six weeks reported greater improvement in symptoms compared to a placebo.
Barnado adds, “The liver governs all of our detox processes and when it’s not functioning properly, we may have symptoms of sluggishness, mood swings and even skin issues, so it’s important to clear toxins out of the body. Increased bile helps us digest and get rid of all these toxins.”
So there you have it – a BFF for digestion and your liver? I’m heading to the produce aisle, quick smart. Or perhaps it’s time for a Four Seasons.
Women’s Health travelled to Europe as a guest of Swisse.