Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Inner Taste

This is one of those smack-the-forehead-'cause-its-so-frickin'-obvious kind of science articles. 

Scientists have discovered that you have taste bud cells distributed all over your body. Not just in your tongue and cheeks, but in your esophagus, stomach, intestines, liver, lungs, colon, and probably lots of other places.

"Taste, scientists are discovering, is a whole-body sensation. There are taste cells in the stomach, intestine and, evidence suggests, the pancreas, colon and esophagus. These sensory cells are part of an ancient battalion tasked with guiding food choices since long before nutrition labels, Rachael Ray or even agriculture existed. While taste cells in the mouth make snap judgments about what should be let inside, new work suggests that gut taste cells serve as specialized ground forces, charged with preparing the digestive system for the aftermath of the tongue’s decisions."

I suppose this explains why fresh air tastes sweet. It's not just the tongue, its the lungs as well. I'm not sure if the lungs have the other taste receptors. Let's see, what are they again? Oh right. Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. 

What? Umami. Translates as "savory", like the smell that comes from a greasy spoon diner. Mmmm, vaporized beef lard.  

It generally is not a conversation item for polite society. One does not discuss what goes on with the gut.  After all, that's where poop lives.

Speaking of poop, if there are taste cells down there, why exactly would my colon need to know what my poop tastes like? 

Does that question gross you out? It really shouldn't, and I suspect it doesn't.

Poop is part of life, after all. Having grown up in a semi-rural environment, where a great deal of my friends lived on farms, you get used to poop. That's pretty much what animals do, when they are not eating. And when they eat, that's pretty much the consequence. 

Why, I've even stepped barefoot in poop. Not my own. Uh, not lately at least.

And I'd be willing to bet most people check out their poop after they poop. I know I do. Especially after a really satisfying or extremely big poop. Just what exactly is going on down there? It's a mystery that needs resolution. You can't fault me for being curious.

And since we are down there already... why does my anus have a red hot chili pepper pain receptor?  The mouth, okay, I understand, but why remind me of what I et yestiday? And actually, those pain receptors are sensitive to a class of chemicals called vanilloids (yeah, like vanilla), that are aromatics included in spices like bay leaves, cloves, ginger root, and chili peppers. Maybe I ought to experiment with food to see if I can detect anything.

Uh, no. Some things are best left to themselves.  

1 comment:

  1. Why? Just in case the burning mouth was not enough to deter you from eating them again.