At first glance, saliva seems like a very boring thing, just a convenient way to moisten our food. But the reality is different, as scientists are beginning to understand. The liquid comes into contact with the things that enter the mouth, and even though it is 99% water, it has a great influence on the taste and enjoyment of what we eat and drink.

“It’s liquid, but it’s not just liquid,” says Guy Carpenter of King’s College London.

Scientists have long understood some of the functions of saliva: it protects the teeth, facilitates speech and creates a favorable environment for food to enter. mouth. But researchers are now discovering that saliva is a mediator and translator, influencing how food moves through the mouth and how it ignites our emotions. New evidence suggests that interactions between saliva and food may help shape which foods we choose to eat.

The ingredient is not too salty, which allows people to taste the saltiness of the potato. It is not very acidic, which is why lemon juice is so refreshing. The liquid water and salivary proteins lubricate each mouthful of food, and enzymes such as amylase and lipase begin the digestion process.

This allows the moist taste or taste chemical components to dissolve into the saliva and travel to and interact with the taste. “We get chemical information about food: the taste, the taste,” says Jianshe Chen, a food scientist at Zhejiang Gongshang University in Hangzhou, China.

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Chen coined the term “food processing” in 2009 to describe the multidisciplinary field. Food science, physics of food materials, physiological and psychological responses to foodand others, on a topic he wrote about in the 2022 Annual Review of Food Science and Technology. When people eat, they don’t taste the food itself, but a mixture of the food and saliva. For example, an eater can perceive a sweet or sour-tasting molecule in a bite of food only if that molecule can reach the taste buds—and to do so, it must pass through the salivary coating that coats the tongue.

Carpenter, who points out how flat soda tastes better than fizzy soda, says that’s not a given. Researchers hypothesized that this is because the bubbling of carbon dioxide in fresh soda creates a hit of acid that distracts the mind from the sweetness. But when Carpenter and his colleagues studied the process in the lab on an artificial mouth, they found that saliva prevented the soda foam from flowing between the tongue and palate. Carpenter thinks these may be supported bubbles Block sugars physically before arriving Taste receptor On the tongue. With flat soda, no bubbles form to block the sweet taste.

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