Getting into the mouth, food molecules affect K. Rohde, I. Schamarek, M. Blühercorresponding. Consequences of Obesity on the Sense of Taste: Taste Buds as Treatment Targets? / Diabetes and metabolism journal on chemoreceptors — cells located in the taste buds on the tongue, palate, epiglottis and larynx.
These cells convert chemical signals into nerve impulses and transmit information to the brain, after which a person feels which product got into his mouth — sweet, salty, sour, bitter or umami.
Sensitivity to a certain taste and love for it depend on both hereditary characteristics and environmental factors. For example, it depends on what kind of food a person is used to.
The receptors adapt to the intensity of taste, and along with this, people's preferences change. For example, if there is a lot of salt in the diet, a person gets used to 1. M Bertino, G. K. Beauchamp, K. Engelman. Long‑term reduction in dietary sodium alters the taste of salt / The American journal of clinical nutrition
2. M. Bertino, G. K. Beauchamp, K. Engelman. Increasing dietary salt alters salt taste preference / Physiology and behavior to this and perceives more bland products as tasteless. This also works in the opposite direction: if you consume bland food, the usual one will seem G. K. Beauchamp, M. Bertino, D. Burke, K. Engelman. Experimental sodium depletion and salt taste in normal human volunteers / The American journal of clinical nutrition too salty.
The same goes for 1. J. M. Heinze, A. Costanzo, I. Baselier. Detection thresholds for four different fatty stimuli are associated with increased dietary intake of processed high‑caloric food / Appetite
2. L. P. Newman, D. P. Bolhuis, S. J. Torres. Dietary fat restriction increases fat taste sensitivity in people with obesity / Obesity (Silver Spring)
and the habits of fatty foods and sweets S. N. Jayasinghe, R. Kruger, D. C. I. Walsh. Is Sweet Taste Perception Associated with Sweet Food Liking and Intake? / Nutrients — the main culprits of extra pounds. Reducing the sensitivity of the taste system interferes with C. E. May, M. Dus. Confection Confusion: Interplay Between Diet, Taste, and Nutrition / Trends in endocrinology and metabolism maintain a healthy weight in two directions at once:
Thus, the less sensitivity to tastes, the higher the calorie content of the diet and the higher the percentage of body fat. What is even sadder, obesity directly affects the taste buds, perpetuating a vicious circle.
Scientists have long noticed that obesity is associated with 1. W. Skrandies, R. Zschieschang. Olfactory and gustatory functions and its relation to body weight / Physiology and behavior
2. F. Sartor, L. F. Donaldson, D. A. Markland. Taste perception and implicit attitude toward sweet related to body mass index and soft drink supplementation / Appetite with a decrease in the number of taste buds. People with a lot of excess weight have about 25% fewer taste buds. They are less sensitive to both salt and sugar. Getting rid of extra pounds also works 1. S. Shoar, M. Naderan, N. Shoar. Alteration Pattern of Taste Perception After Bariatric Surgery: a Systematic Review of Four Taste Domains / Obesity surgery
2. M. Umabiki, K. Tsuzaki, K. Kotani. The improvement of sweet taste sensitivity with decrease in serum leptin levels during weight loss in obese females / The Tohoku journal of experimental medicine in the opposite direction — sharpens the perception of sweet .
To test how obesity causes you to lose sensitivity to tastes, scientists conducted A. Kaufman, E. Choo, A. Koh. Inflammation arising from obesity reduces taste bud abundance and inhibits renewal / PLOS Biology a series of experiments on mice. Some animals were fed food with a high percentage of fat, while others were fed regular food. As expected, the first gained a lot of excess weight and lost 25% of the taste buds on the tongue.
Then the scientists repeated the experiment with mutant mice, which, due to genetic characteristics, could not gain excess weight. This time, the fatty diet did not affect the taste buds in any way. The mice did not gain any weight, nor did they lose their receptors.
Then we checked another group of mutants. These mice could be overweight, but not associated with inflammation in the body — they lacked the pro-inflammatory agent TNF‑alpha.
After eight weeks of the experiment, the mice got fat, but the number of receptors on the tongue remained the same. Scientists have concluded that inflammation is to blame for everything. Apparently, it accelerates the death of taste cells and slows down their renewal.
Since in humans obesity is also associated with chronic inflammation and decreased sensitivity to taste, it can be assumed that this mechanism works not only in mice.
Thus, the more excess fat, the fewer taste buds, more high-calorie food and even more excess weight.
Fortunately, reducing the number of papillae in the mouth is a reversible process. To return to normal sensitivity, you need to lose excess weight and accustom the receptors to less intense tastes.
If you suffer from obesity, consult your doctor to find a suitable nutrition and exercise program. By reducing body weight, you will reduce inflammation in the body, and the taste buds will begin to renew at the same rate.
You can also make a choice towards less saturated food:
At first, the food will feel bland, but after a week you will begin to distinguish tastes much better. An apple or nectarine will start to seem sweet to you, and a marshmallow in chocolate or a donut in glaze will be sickeningly cloying.