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Brainstorming
Brainstorming session

Can you think of a scenario where people would like to check or correct their taste sensitivity?

Can you think of a scenario where people would like to check or correct their taste sensitivity?

Image credit: Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

By Shubhankar Kulkarni on Oct 06, 2020

Creative contributions

Taste sensitivity correlates with obesity and alcohol and fat intake

[1] Simchen U, Koebnick C, Hoyer S, Issanchou S, Zunft H-J. Odour and taste sensitivity is associated with body weight and extent of misreporting of body weight. Eur J Clin Nutr [Internet]. 2006 Jun 25;60(6):698–705. Available from: http://www.nature.com/articles/1602371

[2] Monneuse M-O, Rigal N, Frelut M-L, Hladik C-M, Simmen B, Pasquet P. Taste acuity of obese adolescents and changes in food neophobia and food preferences during a weight reduction session. Appetite [Internet]. 2008 Mar;50(2–3):302–7. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0195666307003376

[3] Duffy VB, Davidson AC, Kidd JR, Kidd KK, Speed WC, Pakstis AJ, et al. Bitter Receptor Gene (TAS2R38), 6-n-Propylthiouracil (PROP) Bitterness and Alcohol Intake. Alcohol Clin Exp Res [Internet]. 2004 Nov;28(11):1629–37. Available from: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1097/01.ALC.0000145789.55183.D4

[4] Keller KL, Steinmann L, Nurse RJ, Tepper BJ. Genetic taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil influences food preference and reported intake in preschool children. Appetite [Internet]. 2002 Feb;38(1):3–12. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0195666301904416

by Shubhankar Kulkarni on Oct 07, 2020

Using taste sensitivity as a proxy for detecting underlying diseases (diabetes)

[1] Lawson WB, Zeidler A, Rubenstein A. Taste Detection and Preferences in Diabetics and their Relatives. Psychosom Med [Internet]. 1979 May;41(3):219–27. Available from: http://journals.lww.com/00006842-197905000-00005

[2] Chochinov RH, Ullyot GLE, Moorhouse JA. Sensory Perception Thresholds in Patients with Juvenile Diabetes and Their Close Relatives. N Engl J Med [Internet]. 1972 Jun 8;286(23):1233–7. Available from: http://www.nejm.org/doi/abs/10.1056/NEJM197206082862303

[3] Khobragade RS, Wakode SL, Kale AH. Physiological taste threshold in type 1 diabetes mellitus. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol [Internet]. 56(1):42–7. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23029963

[4] Gondivkar SM, Indurkar A, Degwekar S, Bhowate R. Evaluation of gustatory function in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2. Oral Surgery, Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endodontology [Internet]. 2009 Dec;108(6):876–80. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1079210409006210

[5] Yu JH, Shin MS, Kim DJ, Lee JR, Yoon S-Y, Kim SG, et al. Enhanced carbohydrate craving in patients with poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabet Med [Internet]. 2013 Sep;30(9):1080–6. Available from: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/dme.12209

[6] Bustos-Saldaña R, Alfaro-Rodríguez M, Solís-Ruiz M de la L, Trujillo-Hernández B, Pacheco-Carrasco M, Vázquez-Jiménez C, et al. [Taste sensitivity diminution in hyperglycemic type 2 diabetics patients]. Rev Med Inst Mex Seguro Soc [Internet]. 47(5):483–8. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20550856

[7] Wasalathanthri S, Hettiarachchi P, Prathapan S. Sweet taste sensitivity in pre-diabetics, diabetics and normoglycemic controls: a comparative cross sectional study. BMC Endocr Disord [Internet]. 2014 Dec 13;14(1):67. Available from: https://bmcendocrdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6823-14-67

[8] Vlaar EM, Admiraal WM, Busschers WB, Holleman F, Nierkens V, Middelkoop BJ, et al. Screening South Asians for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes: (1) comparing oral glucose tolerance and haemoglobin A1c test results and (2) comparing the two sets of metabolic profiles of individuals diagnosed with these two tests. BMC Endocr Disord [Internet]. 2013 Dec 25;13(1):8. Available from: https://bmcendocrdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6823-13-8

by Shubhankar Kulkarni on Oct 07, 2020

Taste sensitivity and aging

[1] Wiriyawattana, Porntip, Suntaree Suwonsichon, and Thongchai Suwonsichon. "Effects of aging on taste thresholds: A case of Asian people." Journal of Sensory Studies 33.4 (2018): e12436.

[2] Yoshinaka, Masaki, et al. "Age and sex differences in the taste sensitivity of young adult, young‐old and old‐old J apanese." Geriatrics & gerontology international 16.12 (2016): 1281-1288.

by Jamila on Oct 07, 2020

Shubhankar Kulkarni 2 months ago
That is a great idea, Jamila! I did some research. Centenarians show reduced taste sensitivity, lower than that observed in adults and the elderly. [1,2,3] This observation suggests a linear trend of reduction in taste sensitivity with age. I also checked the relation between caloric restriction and taste sensitivity since the centenarian physiology is similar to that of the calorie-restricted individuals. I found that short-term caloric restriction increases taste sensitivity in humans [4] but long-term caloric restriction decreases it. [5] Although the latter study was performed using rodents, it might give us some idea as to the relationship between taste sensitivity and longevity in humans. The perfect study would be the one that measures taste sensitivity in centenarians and their offspring (who share the same genes and a similar lifestyle) and then compares it with control adults of the same age as that of the offspring. References: [1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18653135/ [2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18653068/ [3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18653067/ [4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15028115/ [5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991138/
Jamila a month ago
Oo, thanks for the research! I assumed that the centenarians would have a better taste sensitivity than the elderly. So, as we age, our taste sensitivity reduces (even if you are centenarian). There are gender differences seen within the age groups. Elderly females have improved sensitivity for sour and bitter tastes than elderly males. [1] A similar case is seen in the other age groups too, where females have stronger-tasting capabilities. [2] Furthermore, genetic polymorphisms may have a role in taste sensitivity. SCNN1B-rs239345 had a significant association with salt sensitivity, and TAS2R38-rs713598 was associated with a bitter taste. [2] It would be interesting to see if the offsprings have a similar taste sensitivity to their parents (in the idea you suggest). Perhaps, researchers could also look for genetic polymorphisms in both the parents and offspring. References: 1.Uota, M., et al. "Factors related to taste sensitivity in elderly: cross‐sectional findings from SONIC study." Journal of Oral Rehabilitation 43.12 (2016): 943-952. 2.Barragán, Rocio, et al. "Bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami taste perception decreases with age: Sex-specific analysis, modulation by genetic variants and taste-preference associations in 18 to 80 year-old subjects." Nutrients 10.10 (2018): 1539.
Shubhankar Kulkarni a month ago
I agree. Genetic studies on centenarians and their offspring will also tell us how much of the change in taste sensitivity to different tastes is dictated by our genes and how much is adaptive. The treatment to optimize taste sensitivity will also depend on the results of the genetic study. The observation that taste sensitivity differs across age groups and between sexes can be, probably, explained by evolution. Since the sensitivity to different tastes differs across age groups and sexes also indicates that different tastes probably have physiological implications. For example, short-term starvation leads to an increased sensitivity for salty and sweet tastes. [1] This may be because what your body needs the most during starvation is carbohydrates (that are easy to digest and are a source of glucose - the most common energy source) and salts (since you lose salts through urine and sweat). Reference: [1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15028115/

Improve taste sensitivity

[1] Junichi Chikazoe, Daniel H. Lee, Nikolaus Kriegeskorte, et al. Distinct representations of basic taste qualities in human gustatory cortex. Nature Communications,2019, 10(1):646-664.

by Deru Xu on Oct 13, 2020

Update: AI-powered "electric nose" sniffs the freshness of meat

[1] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.202004805

by Juran K. on Nov 11, 2020

Shubhankar Kulkarni 11 days ago
I like the idea you are hinting at - the "electric tongue"! For an AI, taste or smell would be different at the level of the sensors used. To sense odors, as you have suggested, sensors that can sense the molecules in the air are needed. For taste, the sensors should be in contact with the food surface. With touch, there can be sensors that can identify the texture, hardness, and similar properties along with the flavor that can give more comprehensive data on the quality of the foodstuff.
Juran K. 10 days ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni You developed the idea in a direction I was planning to go! If an AI app can read "barcodes" that define the freshness of the meat, I am sure we can figure out how to evaluate food freshness using taste.

People infected with SARS-Covid19 had a symptom of losing the sense of smell. That means that if they had meat in the fridge, their smell wouldn't smell the decay. What if we had these barcodes to detect how fresh is the meat?

What if we had barcodes that determine how fresh is the food, how spicy is the sauce or similar?! Developing "electric tongue" could be a way how to generalize tastes and find a standard "strength" or "specificity" of a tongue. Restaurants would like to implement these kinds of grades or scales for their meals to properly prepare their food identically every time or to attract specific customers.

Taste doesn't seem that essential

by Darko Savic on Oct 06, 2020

Darko Savic 2 months ago
Smell complements taste. You actually smell something before you taste it. It seems like taste is the least important sense

Professional use of taste

by Darko Savic on Oct 06, 2020

Subash Chapagain 2 months ago
Makes absolute sense. There are legit jobs as specialized organoleptic evaluators in the wine and cheese industry. Not just that, beverages and alcoholic drinks also have to go through an extensive tasting phase. If my job was to taste, I would surely want to keep my senses of taste (and smell as well) top-notch.
Juran K. 2 months ago
Maybe sharpening the taste could cause the professionals to become more sensitive to lower concentrations of ingredients and thus, alter their judgment while grading or preparing food. Also, if we start changing the sensitivity, it would be necessary to develop a universal test for taste sensitivity (like for vision and hearing). Also, sharpening the taste should be done balanced (equivalently) for all receptor types, based on their sensitivity/reactivity/position. If it would be done unequally or not adequately balanced, it could mess up the ratios and alter the taste drastically. Just thinking...tell me if I am wrong.
Darko Savic 2 months ago
That's a good point. A professional taster who tweaked with their taste would thereafter be "out of sync" with the rest of the population.

SF scenarios

by Anja M on Oct 07, 2020

Shubhankar Kulkarni 2 months ago
Or even drugs, but only for the narcotics unit :)
Shubhankar Kulkarni 2 months ago
Great idea! Although, what does SF mean?
Anja M 2 months ago
"Science fiction", so I guessed abbreviation was ok to use. :)

Your creative contribution

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Added via the text editor

Darko Savic 2 months ago
What motivated you into thinking about this?
Shubhankar Kulkarni 2 months ago
Researchers have been conducting taste threshold assessments to predict the onset of different diseases. If testing for say diabetes is based on taste sensitivity, it may be taken up in clinics and also in DIY testing kits, since it is a non-invasive method. Altered taste sensitivity might also motivate a person to perform a thorough check-up for underlying diseases. Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4138595/
Darko Savic 2 months ago
Have you ever played with "miracle fruit" Synsepalum dulcificum? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synsepalum_dulcificum It's pretty amazing. You chew it for a minute. For the next 5-10 minutes everything sour tastes extremely sweet. A lemon tastes better than a mango for example:) Might be useful for research

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