Facebook PixelUsing taste sensitivity to diagnose and detect the severity of hyperglycemia (type 2 diabetes)
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Using taste sensitivity to diagnose and detect the severity of hyperglycemia (type 2 diabetes)

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Oct 07, 2020
Taste sensitivity is the minimum concentration at which a person is able to perceive a specific taste - sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients show an impairment of the taste sensation, mostly for the sweet sensation compared to other tastes. The decrease in sensitivity or the increase in the taste threshold is associated with hyperglycemia (higher than normal blood glucose concentration). Moreover, it was found that fasting blood glucose values induced a blood glucose-dependent increase in the detection and recognition of taste thresholds to sweetness. The current range of this association is between 140 mg/dL (normal fasting values are up to 100 mg/dL) and 300 mg/dL. Further investigation is needed to expand this range to accommodate normoglycemic values on one hand and overtly hyperglycemic values on the other. Significant differences were also observed in the detection and recognition of taste thresholds between normoglycemic and hyperglycemic diabetics, in terms of their HbA1C values. Furthermore, differences in taste sensitivity were also useful in distinguishing between normoglycemic, pre-diabetic, and diabetic populations.

On the contrary, a recent study demonstrated a very low specificity of HbA1C (a biomarker of the severity of hyperglycemia) when compared to an oral glucose tolerance test for identifying pre-diabetes. HbA1C is usually used to diagnose diabetes and it is also used to decide the medication regime. Taste sensitivity may serve as a better complementary or supplementary marker. The other advantage of using taste sensitivity is its non-invasiveness (compared to blood glucose measurement).

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[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]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

[6]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

[7]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

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General comments

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic7 months ago
I'm thinking about Synsepalum dulcificum again. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5747512/ What if people with diabetes used chewing gum laced with Synsepalum dulcificum extract. In theory, because of it, everything would taste too sweet to them so they would reduce consumption of such foods.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni7 months ago
I think this might work to an extent. What I read in the references mentioned with the session is that the sensitivity to sweet taste decreases in diabetics. Therefore, they require sweeter foods to perceive the same level of sweetness that a healthy person would. I hope using Synsepalum dulcificum does not aggravate their disease by speeding their loss of sensitivity to sweetness.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic7 months ago
From my experience with Synsepalum dulcificum, whatever is sweet, thereafter tastes inedibly sweet. Sour tastes pleasantly sweet. For example, a lemon tastes like an orange.