Can the Tongue Tell Carbohydrates from other Nutrients?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 12, 2014

It has been for long believed that the human tongue can taste five different kinds of tastes and these include sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savoury. Scientists, however, now believe that the tongue is capable of picking up a sixth taste and that is of carbohydrates, which are nutrients that break down into sugar and form the main source of energy.

carbohydratesThe finding of the study may also explain why the diet products are often viewed as something that is not as satisfying as the real counterparts and also why carbohydrate-loaded drinks tend to immediately perk the athletes up i.e. even before their bodies have the time to convert the carbs to energy.

Studies that were done previously have shown that some rodents can tell between sugars of different energy densities, while the others can tell carbohydrate and protein apart even when they have lost their ability to taste sweetness. An ability of a similar nature has been proposed to occur in humans with the current research showing that having carbohydrates in the mouth can speed up or improve one’s physical performance.

In the new study researchers asked several participants to squeeze a sensor that is held between their right index finger and the thumb when they are shown a visual cue. The tongue of the participants was, at the same time, rinsed with one of three different fluids. The first two of these fluids was artificially sweetened- to identical tastes- with one containing carbohydrate; the third liquid was a control and was neither sweet nor loaded with carb.
When the solution that contained carbohydrate was used, the researchers found a 30 percent increase in the level of activity for the brain areas that controlled vision as well as movement.

The new study is to be published in the journal Appetite.

Article source: Thehealthsite
Image source: Getty
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