Our sense of taste has evolutionally repercussions. Did you
know it was that important? Our sense of taste can tell us if a food is healthy
or harmful for us. In my BreakFree medicine blog I discuss how genetic
differences in taste could affect our food choices. Furthermore, nutrient
deficiencies can affect taste which can perpetuate a consumer’s avoidance of
foods that they need and lead to symptoms and disease processes.
An example of this is someone who has a chronic B12
deficiency could exhibit neurological symptoms. If this person is diabetic and
taking the blood sugar lowering drug, Metformin, this deficiency will be exacerbated
by the inability to use protein sources to extract the B12.
Other causes of variations in taste besides medications,
nutrient deficiencies, and genetics include hormonal changes, dental fillings,
digestive disorders, inflammation, periodontal disease, toxic exposures, and
hormonal health. Basically, anyone that is breathing can have something that
causes a change in taste and is at risk for nutrient deficiencies if their diet
isn’t optimized or supplemented.
How Junk Food Hijacks
Our Taste Buds and Waistlines
Steven Witherly is a food scientist who has studied taste
and addictive flavors for over twenty years. In his report: “Why Humans Like Junk Food”, he provides examples of why
someone may become “addicted” to a food. Let’s take the example of corn chips
- Corn chips combine the pleasure recipe
of salt, sugar, MSG, and more chemicals
- Seasonings increase saliva making your
body primed for lots of chips
- The chips enhance a “dynamic contrast
and evoked quality”- they are crunchy yet they melt in your mouth. These
are two things that increase their pleasure quotient
- They are calorie dense
- Cheese contains casomorphines, which
when digested can cause opioid-like effects on the brain
In fact, the food industry spends inordinate amounts of
dollars to find the exact combinations of taste to make you crave and buy more.
What to do to
Optimize Your Taste and Health
1. Eat a whole food, unprocessed diet. This means ditch the
packaged foods and shop the periphery of the store for organic fruits,
vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats (avocados, real olive
oil, coconut oil, nuts and sugars).
2. Balance ratios of protein sources, healthy fats, with any
form of carbohydrate (grains, fruits) in order to decrease the sugar spikes and
cravings from high blood sugar with elevated carb intake.
3. Exercise will help you use glucose and burn fat more
efficiently. It can also decrease appetite. However, for those who participate in
high-burst training exercises there can be an increase in lean body mass and
fat burning potential. This can lead to an increase in appetite. So make sure
you are doing the Goldilocks principle and do the exercise that works for your
body in relationship to your fitness level, energy level, hormonal health, and
any disease process present.
4. De-stress and find coping mechanisms which are helpful
and nurturing that don’t include food as the only reward.
Witherly, S. Why Humans Like Junk Food. (PDF) http://jamesclear.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/why-humans-like-junk-food-steven-witherly.pdf
Mercola, J. How to Eliminate Junk Food Cravings.
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Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH (2007) Intense
Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE 2(8): e698.
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Amen, D. Ghrelin: Why We Choose Comfort Foods When Stressed.
Dr. Amen’s Blog. August 9, 2011.
Rucklidge J, Johnstone J, Harrison R, Boggis A.
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Science Daily. July 12, 2011.
York University (2011, July 27). Yoga boosts stress-busting
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