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Full-Bodied Taste

April 5, 2011

Taste receptors are not just located in the mouth, but throughout the body.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

A matter of taste…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Taste receptors in our mouths allow us to tell the difference between the sweetness of a strawberry and the sourness of a lemon, for example. We have five taste receptors in all – sweet, salty, sour, savory, and bitter. But biological scientist Gary Beauchamp of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia says new research has revealed that these receptors aren’t limited to our mouths, but are found throughout our body.

GARY BEAUCHAMP (Monell Chemical Senses Center):

And so it’s our whole body that’s tasting food. The part in the mouth is the conscious part. And that’s what we perceive and think of taste, but in our gut and in our pancreas we’ve got the same receptors.

HIRSHON:

Beauchamp says the taste receptors in other parts of out body may be an important factor in how we deal with foods that we often eat in excess, like sugar. Understanding them could shed light on the obesity epidemic. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.