Edible — inedible: how scientists are changing the taste of food

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MOSCOW, Aug 11 — RIA Novosti, Alfia Enikeeva. Taste dictates whether to eat a particular product — the bitterness is associated with toxins and sour taste, because the food is spoiled. Nevertheless, man tries to cheat on your gustatory system. For many years scientists are still trying to build a device that fundamentally would change the taste of food without adding chemicals.

Salt without salt

In may researchers from the National University of Singapore presented invention consists of a special electronic bowls and chopsticks. Thirty volunteers were asked to eat the soup misosiru and mashed potatoes. Both dishes were presented in two versions: salty and fresh.

When the subjects ate specially tuned sticks mashed potatoes without salt, it seemed to them salty. The effect was achieved by electrical stimulation of taste receptors. After all, the main component of both devices — electrodes. They were fixed on the edge of the bowl and sticks through the battery connected with the control Board.

Researchers asked the current two flavors: sour (current of 180 microamps and duty cycle with pulse width modulation 70 percent) and salt (40 microamperes and 20 percent, respectively). Fresh food seemed salty the most part volunteers, but the sour taste almost nobody felt.

To cheat the system

In 2016, Japanese engineers invented a fork that makes food seem salty, influencing the language of the current pulses, and Singaporeans made a mug that simulates the taste of lemonade when people drink ordinary water.

«Taste is a product of the processing of sensory information from three systems: gustatory, olfactory and trigeminal that provides the brain tactile and temperature data on the chemical influences on the language. Here an electric current of selected polarity, the frequency and magnitude affect the taste cells specialized for the detection of selected taste stimuli, and thereby deceived gustatory system as a whole», — says Stanislav Kolesnikov, head of the laboratory of molecular cell physiology, Institute of cell Biophysics (Pushchino).

Taste buds are isolated groups of 50-100 taste cells, located mainly on the tongue. They are the first to react to the taste of the food. Them are pathways that carry nerve impulses to the brain. These impulses stimulate in the sensory cortex of the brain centers interpret information from peripheral taste organ. With all the objectivity of taste stimuli the sensations of salty, sweet or bitter, subjective, so to some extent can be manipulated. Taste illusions that emerged with the human civilization, always aimed at changing the taste.

«You can experiment with during the meal, pinch the nose, to exclude the perception of a smell. You will immediately feel the difference. This confirms that the taste of foods depends not only on the taste buds but from smell. So, for example, in the cold always change the perception of taste,» — says the doctor of medical Sciences Alexey Unruhen, head of Department of normal physiology First MSMU n. a. I. M. Sechenov.

Changing the perception of taste with any infectious disease. According to experts, this is due to the fact that activation of the immune response to bacterial infection affects functions of food centres located in the hypothalamus.

«We assume that this is to help focus efforts to fight the infection», the scientist explains and adds that, in addition to infectious agents, directly on brain centers more nothing can not affect. Engineers and inventors, coming up with devices to simulate the sense of taste, prefer to deceive the gustatory system in the periphery — through the gustatory and olfactory receptors.

On the days of tastes

Today five known tastes: salty, sour, bitter, sweet and umami, which the researchers associated with protein foods (fish, meat, cheese) and monosodium glutamate. Last long time was considered a common flavor enhancer, along with seasonings, but in 2009 identified special receptors that react on him, and minds recognized stimulant of taste.

«Used to think that there are taste receptors selectivity, that is, some respond to sour, others bitter, salty or sweet. But now it is experimentally proved that the receptors are excited by one substance only at low concentrations. At medium and high concentrations of stimulants taste buds excited from two or more substances of different taste,» says Alex Umrikhin.

In the nature of the gustatory system plays the role of an impartial judge when it is necessary to make the critical survival decision: to eat or not to eat. As noted by Stanislav Kolesnikov, a bitter or sour taste to animals is a danger signal. Bitter is associated with toxins and acidic with unripe fruits and spoiled fermented foods.

In human taste sensory system is also able to regulate the intake of nutrients — at least, limit them. According to Alexei Umrihina, change in taste is an evolutionary function is incorporated.

«With an excess of monotonous food is the adaptation receptors, reducing their sensitivity when re-action of taste substances. For example, if you start with spoons eat caviar, is on the third-fifth day will not be as tasty. But the taste has not changed. This is true for any product, decrease in taste sensitivity takes place due to changes in the function of the nervous centers,» explains the scientist.

Taste sensitivity may depend on weight gain. As found by researchers from Cornell University, because of inflammatory processes in the body are associated with obesity, decreases the number of taste buds and the sense of taste blunted.Edible — inedible: how scientists are changing the taste of food© Depositphotos / MonkeybusinessУченые called the product life-prolonging