Taste buds can taste carbohydrates: Study

Last Updated: Jun 12, 2014, 17:13 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

London: Everyone knows that the tongue has five senses i.e sweet ,sour, salty, savory and bitter tastes. But scientists now believe that we have one more sense that our tongue can differentiate, i.e. it allows us to perceive carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the nutrients that break down into sugar and form the main source of energy.

A research have shown that the sense of carbs explains why people find diet foods unsatisfying. It may also be the reason why carbs trigger the pleasure centre of the brain.

"The mouth is a more capable sensory organ than we currently appreciate, able to distinguish carbohydrates from artificial sweeteners when both taste identical," said Nicholas Gant from University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Carbohydrates are extremely powerful stimuli that have profound and immediate effects on the brain and the systems it controls, Gant added.

For the study, researchers asked the participants to squeeze a sensor held between their right index finger and thumb when shown a visual cue.

Participants' tongues were rinsed with one of three different fluids at the same time.

The first two were artificially sweetened - to identical tastes - but with only one containing carbohydrate. The third, a control, was neither sweet nor carb-loaded.

Researchers observed that 30% increase in activity in areas of the brain that control movement and vision.

This reaction, they propose, is caused by our mouths reporting that additional energy in the form of carbs is coming.

"This 'sixth taste sense' for carbohydrate is likely one of many additional food qualities that are detectable by receptors in the mouth," Gant was quoted as saying in media reports.

The study is set to appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Appetite.

(With Agency inputs)