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  • Taste

    Take a tip from your tongue - SMH today

    Read the whole article but heres an extract:

    "You know the old taste map of the tongue?" asks a lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne, Russell Keast. "With the word sweet and an arrow pointing to the tip? With the words salty and sour pointing to the sides and bitterness to the back?" All wrong, he says. "There are taste buds right across your tongue that can detect all five flavours."

    The mistake is due to a mistranslation from a 1901 German textbook, he explains. "It entered the British education system and has been self-perpetuating ever since," Keast says.

    The tongue is not the only part of our body that can taste. At birth we have taste buds on the back of the throat, underside of the tongue and inside of the cheeks.

    By childhood, we taste mainly on the tongue but there are taste buds in our gut. Keast believes these act like sensors. Detecting if foods are sweet for example, the brain can send messages to the pancreas to make more sugar-digestive enzymes.

    We have about 10,000 taste buds and this number decreases as we get older. By the time we reach 45, the rate of decline increases.

    "We have five confirmed tastes we can detect: sweet, sour, salty, savoury and bitter," Keast says. And then theres umami and, Ill soon discover, fat.

    Humans have evolved to detect foods that will feed us or poison us. Fruits and vegetables are generally most nutritious when ripe and full of sugar (fructose). We need salt to maintain the correct elemental make-up of our body and are hard-wired to detect it.

    Acidity, or sourness, shows fruit is unripe. Amino acids are essential, so detecting savoury or umami indicates foods, such as meat, tomatoes and avocado, are good to eat. Our tongue also guards us against poison. A lot of poisonous fruits contain alkaloids, which taste bitter.

    Keast has a theory: "We overcome our natural dislike of all things bitter if what we are putting in our mouths has a psychoactive effect. Think about the bitter things we consume and they generally change our mood." Coffee, tea, gin and tonic, hops in beer, chewing tobacco. The list goes on.
    There must be areas that have more of some taste receptor types than others. I can mainly sense acidity at the top of my tongue and back of the throat. Maybe the tip of the tongue just has a greater concentration of all receptors as it is the forward defence

  • #2
    Re: Taste

    Taste is a fascinating subject, and the information is continually being updated. The info on bitter (above) for instance has problems now that they have discovered taste buds that respond to the bitter flavours in peptides--short chain amino acids that are healthy and desirable to consume.

    Try the Taste Science Lab at Cornell Uni (on the web) for some up-to-date tid-bits.

    Greg

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