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About Everything Wiki » Health » How taste buds interfere with losing weight and maintaining weight

How taste buds interfere with losing weight and maintaining weight

12 Jun 2023, 00:00, parser
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In the modern world, food is not so much a fuel for life as a source of pleasure. Products with a high content of salt, sugar and fat are overflowing store shelves, and manufacturers are coming up with new combinations to "tickle" our receptors. And this directly affects how we taste, what products we choose and how much we weigh in the end.

How taste buds are associated with weight gain

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:

  1. Makes you choose more high-calorie foods. Ordinary fruits will no longer bring such satisfaction as a portion of ice cream, and baked chicken will not replace a salty and fatty cutlet from a fast food cafe. And to get K. S. Burger, E. Stice. Frequent ice cream consumption is associated with reduced striatal response to receipt of an ice cream–based milkshake / The American journal of clinical nutrition the pleasure of food, you have to switch to sweeter and greasier foods.
  2. Slows down the onset of saturation. Signals from taste buds not only provide a sense of pleasure from food, but also predict how satisfying it will be. In other words, if the brain has received information that food is fatty or sweet, saturation will occur before the nutrients enter the bloodstream. And if the receptors are not working at full strength, a person will have time to eat more before he realizes that it's time to stop.

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.

How obesity affects taste buds

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.

How to break out of the vicious circle

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:

  • give up fast food or reduce its amount to one serving per week;
  • replace sugary drinks with water, do not add sugar to coffee and tea;
  • try to exclude products with added sugar — juices, processed meat, pastries;
  • replace sweets with fruits and fresh juices;
  • replace canned food, sausages and other meat offal with chicken and other lean meat cooked without a lot of salt.

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.

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