Taste: It’s in your nose and memories

It’s true that taste isn’t just about the way food hits your tongue; there’s a whole science behind how we perceive flavor and develop preferences for certain foods.

Here are some of the lessons from science that may help you think about eating in a new way:

1. You like what your mother ate

If you’re pregnant, you may be transferring preferences for certain flavors to your baby right now. The food you eat gets into the amniotic fluid and flavors it. The fetus can detect those flavors and remember them after birth, This also happens with breast milk when a mother nurses an infant. As children get old enough to eat solid food, they show a preference for flavors they first experienced in the womb.

It works for flavors like carrot juice, but not for something like salt, since the amount of salt a mother eats doesn’t affect the saltiness of amniotic fluid or breast milk. It’s actually the smell component of flavors that gets transferred. Mothers can enhance a child’s liking for healthy foods such as vegetables by eating them while pregnant and nursing.

In general, experience informs taste preferences, so if you know you’ve liked salty foods in the past, you’re going to want them again. If everyone collectively moves toward a low-salt diet, people will begin to crave it less.

And these preferences can begin from infancy. Babies fed starchy table foods high in salt showed elevated preferences for it.

2. The “tongue map” isn’t exactly right

You may have seen a textbook diagram of a tongue with a “sweet” spot on the front, “salty” areas on the sides and a “bitter” zone in the back. It’s true that these areas are a bit more sensitive to those flavors, but in reality, there’s no clear-cut map of which parts of your tongue taste what.

In fact, there are taste receptors in the back of the throat. This was shown in a case of a woman whose tongue needed to be removed, and she could still sense flavors.

3. The nose knows taste

A lot of what you perceive of flavor is actually aroma, scientists say. At the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, Jane Leland of Kraft Foods’ research and development group demonstrated this by having the audience pinch their noses while eating a yellow jelly bean. The candy was nearly tasteless.

What’s going on? Basically, when your nose isn’t closed up, the aroma of the food from your mouth is going through the back of the throat to the nose to give you the full flavor experience. When you block off the front part of your nose, it’s like closing off the end of a hose and the water is no longer flowing,

4. Nostalgia while eating relates to smell

Many people have powerful memories of particular flavors from childhood, and re-experiencing them in adulthood can instantly bring back moments from years past. Marcel Proust famously begins “Remembrance of Things Past” with a description of biting into a small cake called a madeleine and being overwhelmed with sensations of prior times.

That’s because the olfactory sense is perhaps the most primitive one, and the anatomical connections between smell and emotions are more direct than for other senses. However, there hasn’t been concrete research on precisely how this phenomenon works, and it’s hard to study because each person’s experience is unique.

5. We evolved to “like things that are bad for us”

Humans are driven partly innately and partly culturally to consume salt. People desire fats to store energy, but over the long run, too much can cause cell damage and shorten life.We are hard-wired to like things that are bad for us.

Our ancestors probably didn’t live to age 50, so they sought out salts and fats without regard for the consequences of a bad diet — hypertension, heart disease and stroke — in middle to old age.

And there’s been plenty of warning about salt recently. Everyone over age 51, and people with a history of hypertension, diabetes or kidney problems should restrict their daily salt intake to half a teaspoon. For everyone else, it’s about one teaspoon.

Salt enhances sweetness by inhibiting bitterness. One of the reasons you find salt everywhere is that it reduces the bitterness of vegetables, making them tastier.

6. Yes, you can reduce fat and salt without losing flavor

There are two strategies for addressing the salt problem: creating salt substitutes and coaxing people to shift their preferences. And what about reducing bad fats? Chefs can develop delicious recipes that aren’t laden with fat and may even have a cleaner flavor.

Chocolate mousse, for instance, usually contains a combination of egg yolks and cream that creates a smooth, rich feeling on the tongue — and could also cause molecular damage to arteries.

Solution: Replace the cream and yolks with with a different protein. Water and gelatin, together with chocolate, make a mousse that’s still creamy, but it’s healthier and you can taste more of the chocolate.

And David Lebovitz, former San Francisco Bay Area pastry chef who now writes cookbooks in Paris, advocates minimalism. Even a few grains of salt can make a difference — put them on top of, not in, your culinary creations, he said. It provides a contrast in your mouth to the sweetness of chocolate or caramel, for instance.

“I don’t use substitutes,” he said. “You can substitute carob for chocolate, but it’s not chocolate. I don’t think you should really trick people.”


Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer – 082 513 4256



Introducing Your New Puppy to Your Other Pets

A new puppy is always an adjustment for any family, but if you already have other pets, it takes even more care. Any time you have pets that are already established in your home, they will be territorial at first when a new dog joins the household. Planning and attention to each pet’s needs, however, will soon make them the best of friends.

All animals feel that they are part of the family “pack,” and that feeling means they will instinctively want to protect the family and their territory. You will need to establish to your current pets that the puppy is now a member of the family, while making sure the puppy understands the rules in his new home.

The most difficult animal to introduce your new puppy to would be a cat, especially an older one. Instinct tells them to tangle with each other, but proper introductions will soon overcome this. The guidelines for cats and dogs can be applied to just about any animals you are adjusting to each other.

Be sure to introduce your puppy to your cat slowly. Don’t ever let the puppy immediately have the run of the house – it will upset your cat because he will interpret it as an invasion of his territory. They will fight, and the cat will most likely win. It’s a bad start. There are several steps you should take over a period of several weeks in order to ensure a happy pet family.

1. The day you bring your puppy into your house, keep him on a leash. When the cat gets curious enough to approach, stay close. Let them sniff each other for a moment or two, but immediately pick up the puppy if they strike at each other. The puppy will be happy to play, but the established pet most likely won’t be interested. After you separate them, spend some time individually with each of them.

2. Restrict your puppy’s access to the house at first. This is, after all, the cat’s territory. Using a baby gate to keep the puppy confined to one room is your best bet. The kitchen is ideal for housebreaking, and the cat will be able to peek through the gate and check out the new guy at his leisure.

3. Each day, walk your puppy around the house several times on his leash to show the cat that he will be staying. Increase the time you do this each day. Let the cat hide away if he wants, but soon he will make it a point to come out and meet the puppy.

4. Feel free to use the word, “NO!” whenever the animals become aggressive with each other. Hitting or swatting should not be used because both animals will associate it with them being together. Using a stern voice that you use for disciplining in other situations, however, will make things clear to them.

5. As the days go by, move the baby gate to expand the puppy’s free-range territory. Eventually, he will be able to wander about the house freely as the two pets become used to each other.

6. Don’t let your cat antagonize the puppy. If she lashes out in an attempt to warn the puppy off or tries to scratch the puppy, move the cat – not the puppy. Why? Because you want to make it clear that the puppy is now a member of the household. Always moving the puppy out will only send the cat a signal that if she continues to attack, you will continue to take the puppy away, increasing his territorial stance.

7. Don’t force the animals to be together if they prefer to remain in separate areas of the house. Often, a cat will retreat for a while to a particular room where he feels comfortable. Let this be a safe area; if the puppy heads that direction, re-steer him toward another area of the house or distract him. He will get the picture over time and realize that this is the cat’s “spot.”

8. If most of your time is spent in one room (like the family room), keep the puppy leashed next to you and allow the cat to pass through and make herself at home for the first several days. If the puppy leaves the cat alone, reward him with praise and the occasional treat. If they tangle, put the puppy back in his enclosed area behind the baby gate. After several days of doing this, let the puppy sit with you without the leash and do the same thing.

If you follow these rules for a period of 2-4 weeks, you will discover that your puppy and cat quickly become used to each other. The puppy will learn that there is a room or area where the cat prefers to be alone. As they get used to each other’s presence, the puppy and cat will settle into acceptance, then become curious and start to make friends. Within a few months, your puppy and cat (or other pets) will be fast friends because you have introduced them to each other with consideration for both their feelings and safety.