March 25, 2013

Taste: Are you a superataster?

All tongues are not created equal. Certain individuals are blessed (or cursed, as we’ll discover) with what is colloquially called ‘supertasting.’ As the name implies, it means that these individuals have the ability to taste in a range that extends beyond the average person.

This discovery was made in the 1960’s when a researcher discovered a compound, phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), that was tasteless to most of the population, but bitter to a few. Several subsequent studies were done over the following decades that confirmed the discovery: it is in some individuals genetics to be ‘supertasters.’

Top 6 Ways You Know You’re a Supertaster

1. Vegetables – Studies show that supertasters are particularly sensitive to the bitterness of vegetables, especially Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli. According to studies, the avoidance of (certain) vegetables by supertasters exists to such a degree, that they show a higher incidence of colon cancers than non-supertasters due to their lack of vegetable intake. So don’t let your kids get off that easy in the event they learned about this before you. The bad taste says nothing about the nutritional content, which stays unaltered.

2. High Fat Foods – Supertasters are generally lighter than their counterparts due to the fact that they find high fat content somewhat unappealing. Conversely, people with normal taste tend to absolutely love the taste of fat. It is interesting that such a difference in taste intensity constitutes a qualitative change, but it seems to do so.

3. Wine – The degree to which you find (mostly red) wine bitter and acidic will correlate to your taster status. Supertasters favor flavors that are not overflowing with a tart essence. Since wine (and alcohol in general) is one of the most acidic substancesyou can consume, supertasters, on average, consume less liquor due to this propensity.

4. The Tongue – Fungiform papillae are the structures on the tongue responsible for tasting. While they are visible with the naked eye, dying one’s tongue blue will expose the fungiform papillae for easy visibility. In other words, count ’em up and compare them to your friend’s. Have more? You might just be a supertaster.

5. Candy – If the thought of dropping a blue jawbreaker in your mouth to test the theory above sends your tongue into unpleasant knots, then you may be a supertaster anyways. More commonly seen in children, an aversion to sweets is a common sign that indicates that a tongue is equipped with extra buds.

6. The Test – Testing in the scientific arena eventually moved away from the more toxic PTC to a far healthier compound which displays the same taste mechanics (so as to allow the same type of testing), Propylthyracil (PROC.) The latter compound is commonly used to treat thyroid cancer symptoms, but is also the definitive solution to ascertain a proclivity for supertasting. If you would like to get to the bottom of your taste potential you can grab a package of Propylthyracil 50mg and see for certain. (And then save the rest for a potential thyroid issue!)

About 25% of the population is classified as supertasters. Are you one? Let us know!

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January 18, 2010

Five Food Allergy Myths

Most people, at some point in their lives, will develop a food allergy or intolerance. Allergies are much more severe than intolerances, which often occur as results of different conditions or food poisoning. An allergic reaction is the body’s unique response to certain proteins within foods that are resistant to the heat of cooking, called allergens. Unlike food intolerances, which are often uncomfortable, food allergies must be carefully regulated, as severe allergic reactions have the potential to be fatal.

With such severe implications surrounding food allergies, it’s important to know all the facts, and be able to differentiate the common myths from statistics that you should be aware of.

Myth #1 – Food Allergies are Very Common
Although it may seem as if many people suffer from food allergies, in truth, only about one percent of adults and three percent of children are estimated to suffer from food allergies, despite that close to thirty percent of all people claim to have allergies.

Myth #2 – All Children Will Grow Out of Their Allergies
This is true for some children, but not for all. Children with dairy, egg and soy allergies will often experience fewer symptoms as they grow older, to the point where their allergy no longer exists. Children with wheat allergies, alternatively, may experience a lack of allergy symptoms for a number of years, however, their wheat allergies tend to recur. Tree nut and shellfish allergies rarely resolve with age.

Myth #3 – Negative Reactions to Foods are Prime Indications of Allergies
Most negative reactions to food, including vomiting and heartburn, are more likely to indicate a food intolerance or food poisoning instead of an allergy. True food allergies are not common within the whole population, and though a bad reaction to a certain food may not mean you have an allergy, it may be a wise decision to contact your physician and avoid it anyway.

Myth #4 – Shellfish Allergies are Associated with Iodine Allergies
Many people with shellfish allergies tent to avoid CT scans, as well as other medical procedures involving iodine because they believe that it is the iodine content within the shell fish that they are allergic to. This is not the case, as allergic reactions to shellfish are triggered by the proteins within shellfish, not their iodine content.

Myth #5 – Most People are Allergic to Peanuts
It’s common for peanuts to be banned from work environments and school classrooms on account of severe allergies; however, less than one percent of all people are affected by peanut allergies. Peanut allergies are often commonly talked about because of the severe reactions that they often produce, and the fact that a reaction to peanuts may be induced by inhalation, physical contact or consumption.

Food Allergies can be extremely severe; however, if you haven’t been clinically diagnosed to have one, it’s unlikely that you actually do. If you experience any frequent negative reactions to a specific food, it is recommended that you speak with your physician, because although it’s unlikely that you have an allergy, you reaction may indicate something else.

Information provided on this website is for general purposes only. It is not intended to take the place of advice from your practitioner.

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