Lifestyler with Josie McKenlay: Sense of Taste

Josie McKenlay 11:21 11/06/2015
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  • On the most basic level, our sense of taste keeps us safe.

    Our world is shaped by our sensory abilities which help us navigate our surroundings.

    Our senses can alert us to danger, make us feel bad, but also make us feel incredibly good. If we give our senses positive input, we can actually improve our health.

    – Lifestyler with Josie McKenlay: Senses and your health

    – Lifestyler with Josie McKenlay: Senses
    – Lifestyler with Josie McKenlay: Gluten Intolerance

    On the most basic level, our sense of taste keeps us safe: things that are bad for us tend to taste bitter.

    Although your taste buds detect the flavor of hot foods such as chilies, it is actually your pain receptors that tell you not to eat too many. When we eat something, the food must come into contact with a cluster of cells called a taste bud.

    There are over 10,000 taste buds in our mouths and the cells making up a taste bud only last for about 10 days, after which they are replaced.

    The taste bud sends a signal to the brain to determine whether a food tastes “safe” – which in most cases means it’s not too bitter – and whether we enjoy it. The part of the brain known as the anterior cingulate will then attach the tastes to emotional reactions.

    The taste bud sends a signal to the brain to determine whether a food tastes “safe”.

    Food manufacturers know exactly how to sell their products by using flavourings and additives that taste good, generally sweet, salty and savoury.

    Our liking for these three tastes ensure we get enough nutrients and calories, but used as flavourings in unhealthy food products will lead to obesity or malnutrition.

    If it tastes good, we are likely to eat a lot of it, much more than we actually need. One fascinating area of research is the connection between what we are genetically programmed to taste and what we eat, which may account for poor dietary choices and the health risks associated with this, such as obesity and diabetes.

    Studies show that those who do not taste certain flavours particularly strongly tend to eat a lot more of that particular food and if it happens to be high in sugar or fat, this will have a negative effect on weight.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 25 percent of Americans are nontasters, 50 percent are medium tasters, and 25 percent are “supertasters.”

    Apparently women have a stronger sense of taste and smell. The amount of pleasure our sense of taste gives us is highlighted by the number of restaurants of every type we see all over the world.

    Without our sense of taste, our health suffers.

    There are numerous food shows on the television, cookery books on sale and enormous profits being made by the supermarkets. Although we may have eaten food to survive thousands of years ago, this has changed over the centuries.

    Without our sense of taste, our health suffers. People who lose their sense of taste tend to eat poorly which will eventually have a negative impact on their health and longevity.

    The same is true for people who lose their sense of smell: smell and taste are very much linked – in fact flavours are recognised mainly through our sense of smell. So choose well flavoured, freshly prepared foods to get the healthiest benefits from your sense of taste.