Saturday, April 4, 2015

Taste Buds in Our Gut

     I've started reading Gulp by Mary Roach. Mary Roach tells everything about the alimentary canal which is the body system that your food passes through from start to finish. Roach has done her research, asked questions and then writes a very humorous authentic account of what the digestive system is and how it works. She also gives a historical account of early research and how it was done.

     I have only read 80 pages but I found something that I really have to tell you. She discusses taste which she describes as, "a sort of chemical touch. Taste cells are specialized skin cells."

     We have taste receptors in four parts of our body: the gut, the voice box, the upper esophagus and the tongue. Wow! Who'd have ever thought we had all those taste buds? Only the tongue's receptors report to the brain. So with apologies to all oenophiles taste is only functional to act as a doorman to what we take in our mouth. So if stuff doesn't taste right we do not ingest the food.

     "Intestinal taste receptors are thought to trigger hormonal responses to molecules such as salt and sugar -and defensive actions- such as vomiting and diarrhea to dangerous items." No need for this information to go to the brain as most of what we would get would be pretty itchy.

    I like the way Mary Roach leads us to take a different look at how one part of the body works. We rarely think of the  alimentary canal as one unit that has different parts to do the job of digestion of foods.

    So in one short section I learned some very interesting things about taste.

     I'm looking forward to the remainder of the book.