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The Taste Physiology: Understand And Taste Better

Sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami – these are the 5 elements of taste perception. Obviously, each person has their own unique taste bud blend, but why? And how does a person’s sense of taste form?

Characteristics of the 5 Types of Taste

You are probably familiar with the first four tastes listed above since they’ve been known for hundreds of years, even well before taste buds were discovered. Umami on the other hand is relatively new. This savory taste was not officially recognized until 2002.

Each type of taste is unique largely because of its molecular shape and texture:

Sweet – large, round atoms
Salty – atoms with an isosceles triangle shape
Sour – large, rough and angular atoms
Bitter – atoms that are smooth, spherical and small
Umami – atoms that are large and prism-like

There are specialized receptors for each taste throughout the entire mouth, but they are most heavily concentrated on the tongue. That is correct, I am talking about taste buds. They are like keyholes in which one of the tastes fits perfectly. The types of taste buds we have largely determine which types of tastes we like best.

How Our Sense of Taste Develops

At just eight weeks in the womb, a baby starts to form taste buds. Four weeks later the baby can start swallowing and puts their maturing taste buds to work. The tastes of the food that the mother eats will make its way to the amniotic fluid that the baby swallows. Long before they are born, the baby’s taste preferences are beginning to form and are heavily influenced by mommy’s diet.

By the time the baby is born, taste is their most heightened sense. Babies that are breastfed will continue to be influenced by their mother’s diet since various flavors will come through in the milk.

Taste Buds are the Best Buds

Every person has between 2,000-10,000 taste buds on their tongue, and each taste bud has 50-150 taste receptor cells. When foods react chemically with the receptors, a taste is produced. Taste buds react favorably or unfavorably to all types of tastes, which is why each person has a unique set of preferences.

Influential Factors

But there are three other influential factors at play – texture, temperature and smell. Together with taste they form flavor. Age also plays a role. It is estimated by experts that by the time a person turns 20 they have lost around half their taste buds. It’s one reason why food tastes differently as an adult than it did when you were once a kid.

WorkWeekFoodie meal ideas you will certainly help you to try and test a wide variety of fresh foods I am sure you will be able to hit various types of taste buds all at once with these meals. It is all about variety in my kitchen so each lunch is like a trip to another country. I always try to compose meals with delicious mix of flavors that activate taste buds across the entire tongue. This also helps to keep healthy eating sustainable because of the said variety. Remember keep it simple and never repetitive and boring. Add colors, work with creating different textures and tastes. That way you will never get bored with healthy eating. And you will always enjoy your meals.

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Tastes Great!
Min. Sugar
Healthy Fats
Nutrient Dense
Complex Protein
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