Friday Facts: Taste

Did you know that (said a la Bill Nye The Science Guy):

  • Tastes buds have an average life of 10 days – this is great news! That means that you can alter your preferences in foods in just a measly 10 days.
    Schematic drawing of a taste bud

    Schematic drawing of a taste bud (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    So, for instance, if you have an epic sweet tooth you can go without sweets for just 10 days and all the taste buds in you mouth will have regenerated in that time (on average). They will not have been exposed to sugar for their entire existence and therefore will be much more sensitive to sweets. When you reintroduce sugars into your diet they will taste much sweeter and you will need less sugar to be satisfied. Unfortunately your memory of how awesome that brownie your friend made 3 weeks ago does not get reset at the same time. You win some you lose some. So give it a try… if you have a food you want to kick, just give it up for 10 days and see how it tastes afterwards.

  • There are 5 confirmed taste sensations – bitterness, saltiness, sweetness, sourness, and umami. Each of these is thought to have a different evolutionary purpose.
    • Bitterness – this is usually a disagreeable taste and is the most sensitive of the receptors. It is thought that we are sensitive to bitter tastes because many naturally occurring toxins are bitter.
    • Saltiness – This is the detection of sodium and some metals that react with saliva. Salt is a desirably taste and a certain amount of sodium or required for health.
    • Sweetness – This is the detection of various sugars. It is generally a very pleasurable sensation and is thought to have 2 purposes: 1 – sweet tasting thing are generally not toxic and safe to eat, 2 – sweet things are generally nutrient dense and therefore key to survival (or making us fat in today’s world)
    • Sourness – this is the perception of acidity and is desirable in small amounts. Acids help digest foods and in nature, generally occur in high nutrient value foods such as fruit. There is a high propensity for vitamins and minerals to be present in natural foods.
    • Umami – this one is relatively new (not to be confused with Unagi which is eel sushi). This is literally a “meat” bud. It detects savoury tastes and is the receptor that MSG targets. This is thought to have developed to make meat desirable which is the best/largest source of protein.
  • There is evidence of a “fat” bud – Along with the 5 receptors above, there is new evidence that we can detect fat through taste. It was previously thought that fat added to “mouth feel” and satiety but was not actually a taste. New research suggests that a protein, CD36, that is produced in varying amounts is what detects fat in foods. People who produce less of this protein have a harder time detecting fat and therefore need more in order to feel satisfied. You can also dull this pathway by consuming too much fat. This is the same thing that happens with sugar! Our bodies are smart, so they adapt, similar to taken drugs and needing to up the dosage to ge the same effect. THis happens with foods too, so you have to reset your body – see the first fact!

Now you know!

This is all awesome because it gives some context for how cleanses and detoxes work… like the 21 Day Sugar Detox that I will be doing with my amazing boyfriend who agreed to this madness. Stay tuned because I will defintiely be letting you know how it goes. I will be starting on November 18th.


8 thoughts on “Friday Facts: Taste

  1. That’s pretty awesome, I actually had no clue. Will be good info for me to have with people who ask for my help!

  2. Great post. Uberbeastmode just recommended your blog to me because I’m looking into doing this. Great information and I feel much better about ignoring the naysayers about doing it!

    • Awesome. Thanks! I’m guessing you mean doing a fitness competition? If you have any questions or want a sympathetic ear when you just don’t feel like eating more spinach you can message me on Facebook. Link is at the top of the blog. Happy New Year!

      • We were actually talking about cutting out certain sugary foods cold turkey
        (not competitions) and I remembered this blog by you about taste buds. See, I told you it would be good info for me to have for future reference when trying to help others! 🙂 It’s crazy how little info there really is about this topic.

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