6 Ways We Can Use Taste and Smell to Optimize Our Nutrition

January 29, 2015 5:02 PM

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1. Understand how taste is linked to our evolutionary survival. Equipped on average with 10,000 taste buds, our tongue's ability to distinguish five tastes -- sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami (savory) -- gives us the opportunity to relish what we eat. However, our tongue -- like many of our behaviors -- has a foundation in evolutionary biology. At a time when we were not relegated to refrigerators and restaurants, our ancestors developed taste to distinguish between that which is toxic and that which is nutritious -- or at the very least, that which is edible. According to a 2013 article in Science, sweetness helps humans identify energy-rich foods, whereas saltiness and umami signal the presences of electrolytes and amino acids, respectively. And if you ever popped a wild berry from a bush in your mouth and quickly spat it out, you'd be right to assume that bitterness is a way to help us discern whether a food is toxic or not.

2. Remove foods with supernormal stimuli from our diets. Did you ever walk past a fast food restaurant and wonder why the smell of greasy fries makes our salivary glands react like a rabid animal? The taste and smell of most of the processed foods on the market today were specially designed to get u...

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