This Electric Fork Simulates a Salty Flavor By Shocking Your Tongue

Dousing every meal in salt might make food tastier, but all that extra sodium is eventually going to raise your blood pressure—giving you bigger problems than bland food. So researchers in Japan have built a prototype electric fork that uses electrical stimulation to simulate the taste of salt.

Source: This Electric Fork Simulates a Salty Flavor By Shocking Your Tongue

Does it have an MSG setting? 😉

According to most science, with some exceptions for people with a hypersensitivity, the salt & blood pressure thing isn’t true: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/its-time-to-end-the-war-on-salt/

The other thing to consider about table salt is the amount of iodine that’s in it, as a preventative measure against iodine deficiency and gout.  That’s why some recipes specifically call for other types of salt, but as you can see – table salt should not be avoided entirely.

Burning Mouth Syndrome Is Real, But We Don’t Know Why

The symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome are pretty much summed up by the name. The cause is still a mystery. So is the fact that the syndrome stops whenever you fall asleep.

Source: Burning Mouth Syndrome Is Real, But We Don’t Know Why

Never encountered someone who suffers, but have heard that it can be painful to speak.  No word on if any sufferers have combated this with an ice cream headache…  I’ll show myself out 🙂

This Paper About Tongues and Genetics Fooled the Whole World

Rolling your tongue is not a genetic trait. Most of the people reading this were told, at some point during their schooling, that it was. At last you can read the paper that started the myth, and find out how quickly it was disproved.

Some of us had our tiny egos crushed in the third grade when a teacher, during a science presentation, tried to explain genetics by having the entire classroom roll their tongues. When some people couldn’t, the teacher announced that the ability to roll one’s tongue was genetic. The flat-tongued among us would never be able to twist their tongues into a roll, and should just give up. The inspiration from that lesson came from “A New Inherited Character in Man,” published in 1940.

Source: This Paper About Tongues and Genetics Fooled the Whole World

Sounds like something a flat-tongue would say!  Sorry, that was tasteless…

Do You Have A Geographic Tongue?

It’s not contagious.

Here’s a very pretty version of a condition shared by two to three percent of the population. It causes patterns, often map-like patterns, on the tongue.

Normally, the human tongue is covered with tiny papillae. These hairlike structures can look pink or white, and they look a bit like a film over the top of the tongue. But people with geographic tongue have bare patches on their tongue. These patches show darker pink or red against the rest of the tongue, and because they lack papillae they have a different texture.

Source: Do You Have A Geographic Tongue?

Tune in next time for tongues that are scalloped, fissured in addition to geographic!

Why Exactly Do Spicy Flavors Burn?

When you consider the tongue, what leaps to mind are the five canonical tastes – sweet, salt, bitter, sour, and umami. These sensations arise when receptors on the surface of taste bud cells are activated by your food, triggering nerve fibres that run to your brain and help generate the experience of a savoury roast or a fresh strawberry. But your tongue is more versatile than that. It’s also sensitive to temperature, pressure, and chemicals that mimic both of these things, which turn up in a number of foods. This peculiar latter group of sensations is called chemesthesis, and you probably experience some flavour of it every day.

Source: Food: How spicy flavours trick your tongue

The canonical tastes idea isn’t supported any more.

Your Sense of Taste is Better Than You Realize

The old “tongue map” from our elementary school textbooks has been roundly debunked. Experimental confirmation of “umami” expanded Westerners’ traditional four basic tastes—sweet, sour, salty, and bitter—into five. But did you know those 5 basic tastes might actually be 6 . . . or 7, 8, or more?

Advances in the technology and techniques available to researchers have led to significant new discoveries in taste perception. Receptors have been discovered in the last few years for “tastes” long assumed to be entirely smell or texture dependent. What tastes have you been tasting your whole life without even knowing it?

Source: You Have Better Taste Than You Realize

Since the full sensation of carbonation involves both taste receptors and pain receptors, you might also just not enjoy the pain.  But there are “supertasters” who are significantly more sensitive to taste than the general population.  Women are much more likely to be supertasters – 35% of women vs. 15% of men.

Spicy (and menthol) triggers the non-taste general sense cells (which is why it also burns if it gets in your eyes, or up your nose, or even on your skin in sufficient doses). Several non-Western cultures consider “spicy” or “pungent” to be a basic taste, but within the scientific community’s current general understanding of “taste,” it isn’t one.

Taste researchers do work to isolate smell from taste when they’re doing experiments, because even a tiny bit of odor can go a very long way. Just a whiff of vanilla, for example, can make people think they’re tasting something sweetened, even if it contains no sugar at all.

Somewhat surprisingly, nose clips are usually enough to keep smell out entirely. Because they cut off airflow on one end of the nasal cavity, they also stifle airflow past the back end where it opens into the back of the mouth. Sometimes in rat experiments the researchers will go even further to seal things off, but with humans the clips are generally enough to be sure that their subjects are tasting, not smelling.

…but you could use a little more salt.