What are taste buds? Do i control what i put in my mouth, or do they?
I was sitting around with a girlfriend this week chilling, eating, Netflixing – the usual. I turned to asked if she ever had felt like skin cells from the inside of her cheek and top of mouth were shedding. Instead of the “yeah I totally get that too” I was expecting, I received the ever-so-common “omg no Shannon you freak” look.
Umm well damnit. *Insert panicked moment of Dr Googling and asking everyone else within yelling distance*. Good news, turns out I’m not a freak at all (well not in regards to this at least). Each of us has about 10,000 taste buds – but not all of them are on the tongue! Some are under your tongue, some are inside of your cheeks, on the roof of your mouth, and even on your lips. What I was experiencing was the normal and natural cycle of taste buds dying off leaving place for their new replacements.
So that’s where the inspo for this post came from. I wanted to delve into all things taste buds. Do I actually prefer the taste of a green smoothie over a candy bar? Or have I just successfully brainwashed myself? Let’s see.
Picture your absolute favourite food. Now think about your fave food when you were a child. Same dish? If not, how is it different? I’m going to take a wild guess – for many of you today’s no.1 is a savoury dish whereas little-you opted for something super sweet.
Taste is an awesome sensory experience that evolves and transforms over a lifetime. This also explains why so many of us have jumped on board the ‘grown-up food’ train that the younger you would “ewwwwwwww” at in an instance. Brussels sprouts, oysters, sardines and red wine anyone?
You may be as amazed as I was to learn how deeply our food preferences at different life stages are rooted in the body’s inherent survival instincts.
Little rascals have a wicked sweet tooth, which may make for buzzing hyperactive bubs, but this actually makes total sense from a biological perspective. Only in recent human history has life expectancy for children been so high, meaning until recently most children have needed every ounce of energy from their food to survive into adulthood. Because of this, their natural taste preference is to opt for super high energy foods until they make it into adolescence. Who knew that our sweet tooth as a kid is a life and death evolutionary advantage!?
So why does flavour preference shift? Simply put, your taste buds slowly die off. Every couple of weeks your taste buds will naturally die and replace themselves – just like all your other cells in the body! But once you reach adulthood this process sloooowwws down and continues to do so for the remainder of your lifetime. You will go through a series of taste shifts, causing some foods to suddenly taste bland whilst others that were bland now taste like heaven.
This brings us back to my original big question: Do I actually LOVE the taste of veggies and all things healthy or has my years of #NutritionLyf just brainwashed my taste buds??
Well, both. What you eat daily moulds your tastebuds and can manipulate your preferences. Many diets today are loaded with added sugar, processed foods, crappy oil and heaps of salt. An excessive consumption of ANY of these types of foods will hack your body’s food preference, causing you to put down the salad and reach for that candy bar. If you sit down for several super salty meals in a row your taste buds will have adapted and them paired with your brain will do everything they can to get you to turn away all non super-salty meals.
The good news is this can be manipulated in reversed. Cut the crap out and all of a sudden fresh wholesome foods taste ahhhhhmmaaaazing. Also once this shift has taken place, when you do treat yo self to something “naughty” you’ll be shocked at how strongly you can now taste the punch of sugar or salt. How cool is the human body?!?! #NerdMoment
Want to learn more about all things health, food, cravings and how to hack them? If click below to check out my Lighten Up & Good Gut Guide. Lighten Up is for you if you want to learn about healthy eating for weight loss and all the tips and tricks to never have to “diet” again. Or head over to the Good Gut Guide for a total gut reboot to improve immunity, decrease inflammation, eliminate gut worries and so much more.