Obesity affects perception of taste of things, indicates research
Obesity has been growing at an alarming rate all over the world. In Brazil, it is estimated that almost half of the population is overweight. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of Brazilians with the disease rose from 11.8% to 18.9%, according to a survey of Survival of Risk Factors and Protection for Chronic Diseases by Telephone Inquiry (Vigitel).
According to a recent research, conducted by researchers at the Department of Food Sciences at Cornell University (USA), obesity impairs food flavor sensitivity. In order to understand why body mass index influences the ability to taste food, the researchers fed a few rats on a normal 14% fat diet. and others on a diet that contained 58% fat.
After 8 weeks, the results showed that animals that had the diet with the most fat weighed more than those who received the normal food. In addition, obese mice were found to have 25% fewer taste buds than lean rodents.
Overweight and obesity cause a reduction in the number of taste buds due to chronic inflammation associated with the accumulation of fat. A taste papilla has 50 to 100 cells of three main types, each with different functions in detecting the five main flavors - salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami.
Taste buds are usually renewed every 10 days , in a process governed by the programmed death of the old cells and the differentiation of new receptors from stem cells. However, in obese mice, cell death accelerates as the number of stem cells decreases, which slows down the regeneration of the taste buds.
To verify the exact causes, the scientists repeated the experiment with rats genetically resistant to obesity. These animals have their DNA edited so they do not get too fat, regardless of the food. So, the analysis showed that there was no reduction in the number of taste buds following the more fatty diet. "These data suggest that total adiposity derived from chronic exposure to a high-fat diet is associated with an increase in fat intake, to a low-grade inflammatory response that causes disruption of the mechanisms of maintenance balance and renewal of the sense of taste, "said Robin Dando, a lead author of the study.
Researchers suggest that these results could point to new therapeutic strategies to alleviate the taste dysfunction in obese people. "If someone becomes more sensitive to the taste, it is plausible that they do not need as much sugar, fat or salt in their diet, so they can adopt better eating habits."
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