The Sense of Taste and Health & Safety
This is our latest post looking at the different senses and their links to health and safety. Today we look at the Sense of Taste.
If you look at your tongue in the mirror, you can see it’s covered in little bumps. And in those bumps are taste buds. When you put something in your mouth, they send a message to your brain to give you information about whether the food is salty, sweet, sour, bitter or umami (a meaty, savoury taste). Taste allows us to know when food is off and when it is not.
Taste and smell are crucial to our health as they provide information about our food. For example, the aroma of a food can sometimes tell us if the food is fresh, such as with fish or meat. After one bite or even a tiny taste of some foods, we can often detect "off" flavours that may signal that the food has spoiled. In effect, we learn to rely on our senses of taste and smell to warn us away from foods that may be dangerous.
Our taste can be affected by many things, such as age, colds, sore throats, smoking, gum inflammation, conditions such as Sjogren's Syndrome (which causes dry eyes and dry mouth) and by a deficiency in zinc or Vitamin B-12. Dust, fumes and dry atmospheres at work may also affect taste.
As we discussed previously, taste and smell are very similar in warning us about dangers we cannot necessarily see, particularly with food. In fact our sense of smell affects our sense of taste. Try holding your nose whilst eating something. You won't be able to taste it as well.
One reason that taste (and smell) sensations are important is that they prepare our bodies for digesting food. Tasting and smelling food triggers our salivary glands and digestive "juices". Without them, our stomachs wouldn't be ready for food, and we'd have trouble digesting food and making use of the nutrients we get from food.
Our tastes change all the time, and different people prefer different tastes to others. Lots of things affect our likes and dislikes, such as personal taste, our culture, age, experiences etc. But these change over time and so it is important to keep trying new foods. Even if you think you don’t like something, try it again after a while. You might just change your mind!
Finally, the ability to taste is so crucial to the act of eating that when we can't taste our food we just don't have the desire to eat as much as we usually do. Weight loss is common for people who can't taste or smell their food for whatever reason. For some of us this may be desirable, but for others it can lead to impaired immunity, poor nutritional status and the worsening of some diseases.
As stated above, taste is vital in differentiating between good and spoiled foods, so that we reduce the risk of poisoning ourselves. If you work in the food industry, or work with or handle food at work, KSH Safety Services have numerous food safety e-learning courses that can help reduce the risk from spoiled food even further. Find out more at https://www.kshsafety.com/food-safety-e-learning-courses
The above is one of a series of articles being published in the lead up to the Merseyside Business Expo on 11 October 2019, 9am - 3pm. Join us on our stand to find out more, and to find out about how KSH Safety Services can help your business.
We will be just one of about 150 local businesses exhibiting at the Liverpool Exhibition Centre that day. So why not join us as a visitor? We are expecting over 2,000 others to visit, making it an excellent opportunity to network and do business. Admission is free, and to register, visit https://shoutexpo.com/merseyside/ today.
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