People’s sense of taste seems to be negatively affected by their extra pounds. According to a recent mouse study, obesity can switch off taste buds.
Researchers at Cornell University are confident that the findings could lead to new treatment methods for obesity in the long run. Senior researcher Robin Dando noted that taste buds are fundamental in understanding how our body works.
Obesity is influenced by many factors like genetics, exercise, and diet. However, taste preferences are directly tied to people’s preferred diets. Past studies found that obese people seem to have a dull sense of taste, but it wasn’t clear why.
- Scientists believe that obese people tend to eat more or unhealthier food because of a weaker sense of taste.
- A weaker sense of taste further fuels weight gain, leading to a reinforcing loop.
The latest study analyzed the taste buds of several laboratory mice. Taste buds are tiny cell clusters on the tongue that beam the brain info about the five tastes: umami, salty, sweet, bitter, and sour.
Obese Mice Losing Taste Buds
The study revealed that obese rodents lost 25% of their taste buds when compared to their slim peers. The study results appeared this week in PLOS Biology.
Taste buds contain cells that grow old and are replaced by newer ones. One of these cells dies after just 10 days, and a taste bud completely regenerates after five weeks. Obesity, however, seemed to either block or speed up the process.
In obese mice, taste bud cells died faster and regenerated slower than in lean mice. At first, study authors believed that fatty food was at fault. Yet, later they discovered that it wasn’t the case.
Researchers found that mice whose genes were tweaked to be resistant to obesity did not have a problem at all with taste bud regeneration. So, obesity is not at fault. One more cause could be chronic inflammation. Obesity boosts the levels of chronic inflammation in the body which could ultimately affect taste buds.
Image Source: Pixabay