The Phoenix

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is The Turkey Fergielicious?

It's that time of the year again when we Americans stuff ourselves silly with turkey, mashed potatoes, baked ham, and pumpkin pies. Then we are suddenly induced into a nice fuzzy coma, where we proceed to fall asleep in front of the TV broadcasting football.

Last year, I wrote about the science behind the "turkey coma" HERE.

Recently, scientists tackled the mystery behind our sense of taste. Why do certain foods taste great to some, yet make others want to spit it out? Is it a biological thing? Or maybe it's a psychological thing. Scientists also realized your sense of taste can actually affect your health.

The sense of taste has just recently been understood. It's a complicated process, since it involves the nose and sinuses, the tongue, emotions and psychology, and of course - the brain.

Back in early human's history, McDonalds and 24 hour Super Walmarts didn't exist. Food wasn't so readily available, and our bodies were designed to survive those "lean times" when food was scarce. So, our brains crave fat. But the brain doesn't just want fat to survive. In fact, Michigan scientists recently witnessed pleasure brain cells firing off like fireworks after subjects ate something yummy.

But what about those picky eaters?

One in four people is what scientists are calling a "supertaster." A supertaster is a person born with extra taste buds. The result is that they find vegetables, for example, more bitter than a person with normal taste sensation. So they stay away from a veggies, and Connecticut reseachers found that these supertasters are more succeptible to colon cancer as a result. A supertaster's hyper-sensitive taste makes eating different foods a challenge.

I have relatives that seem to have to poop immediately after eating. It doesn't make sense since it takes hours to digest. Should I label them as "superpoopers?"

Being a supertaster isn't easy. "They live in a neon taste world,'' as Dr. Bartoshuk, a specialist in the genetics of human taste says.

Supertasters tend to be very skinny because of their pickiness. Reseachers believe supertasters can train their taste buds by combining something sweet to overcome the bitterness of veggies. Also, scientists know that the emotional connections people make with certain foods can be more powerful than biology.

But can too much of a tasty thing be a bad thing?

In the brain is a region called the ventral pallidum, and scientists noticed the cells in this area were firing off like rockets when we eat something delicious. They also notcied the brain fireworks were strongest right when people sat down to start eating their feast.

"At the moment you sit down and start to eat, that's when the firing's most intense and everything tastes delicious, more delicious than it's going to taste at any moment thereafter,'' Dr. Kent Berridge, of the University of Michigan, explains.

But as the feast continues, the cells in the ventral pallidum begin to slow down...and the activity decreases as well. In other words, people got sick of eating the same thing after a while. Maybe three-fourths of the way through the big meal, the food wasn't as "fergielicious" anymore.

And that's why we invented dessert.

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving everyone!


Blogger Etchen said...

Ah, God bless desserts. Happy Thanksgiving!

11/22/2006 6:03 PM  
Blogger goddess said...

Mmmmm dessert. This was a very interesting post. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

11/22/2006 8:14 PM  
Blogger Grafs said...

I only eat dinner so I can have dessert :)

11/22/2006 8:17 PM  
Blogger Mr. Friendly said...

So I should wear a hat at dessert time?

You know, to keep my brain inside my skull.

11/22/2006 9:26 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Happy Turkey day mate ;-)


11/22/2006 9:58 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

A turkey-typo: "One if four people..."
or a typo, turkey :)

chhpeow <-- chew & phew

11/22/2006 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some people are super-duper-poopers. "Garbage in, garbage out."

Hors durvies are as good as desert. We should do firsts and afters.

Happy Thanksgiving. Come see my attack hand turkey, Charlie.

11/23/2006 7:30 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I never understood addictions until I realized I have an addiction to food.

Happy turkey day!

11/23/2006 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving.

Why eat dinner? Just have dessert!

11/23/2006 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

11/23/2006 10:49 PM  
Blogger Curare_Z said...

I always thought I was a supertaster because I love to taste food. Constantly. :-) LOL

The Antidote is a superpooper. I hate drives me CRAZY. I think his body stores it until he eats more and the new food pushes the old out. :-)

Hope you and you family had a good turkey day!

11/24/2006 7:40 AM  
Blogger Carmel said...

Hey you!!
Desserts mmmmm. That's a cool study. There are certainly fireworks in my brain when I come accross strawberries dipped in chocolate.
I hope you had a nice thanksgiving, we don't celebrate it here in Aus, but I have been in the USA during the time and sat down to such a feast.

11/24/2006 4:48 PM  
Blogger phred said...

All I know is , I like food...Happy Turkey Day to you and yours.

11/25/2006 5:42 AM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!!!
I wasn't a dessert freak until recently. I use to crave salt, now I stay away from it.
I have relatives that poop right after they eat too. Do you think it has something to do with the "old country"?

11/25/2006 9:19 PM  
Blogger LBseahag said...

I can't help but wonder how it felt for Mike the Headless chicken to not be able to taste...

11/26/2006 2:15 AM  
Blogger KC said...

If it were up to me, we'd always start with dessert first. Oh well.

This year's Thanksgiving dessert was bread pudding with whisky sauce. I could NOT stop eating it. Awesome!

11/26/2006 12:01 PM  
Blogger Sar said...

Happy Belated Turkey Day, Phoenix!


Damn leftovers. ;)

11/26/2006 7:07 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

I don't care how or why it works, but it does. Thanksgiving is the best tasting holiday!

Well, except for Arbor Day. Licking trees is sooooo good.

-- david

11/26/2006 7:25 PM  
Blogger grrrbear said...

That is a *great* post! Fascinating.

It makes me wonder though about whether animals who only eat one thing have this problem, like koalas. I mean, if those species also had supertasters would they not want to eat eucalyptus anymore? Would they starve, or start eating other stuff? Interesting thought experiment...

11/27/2006 1:14 PM  
Anonymous mojotek said...

My brother is one of those "super poopers". You could set a watch by it. Fifteen minutes after eating ANYTHING, he's heading to take a dump. It never fails.

11/27/2006 1:52 PM  
Blogger Phats said...

This post made me hungry. Hope you had a great thanksgiving

11/27/2006 2:40 PM  
Anonymous stephanie said...

I knew it. I knew I wasn't a freak. I'm just a supertaster.

11/27/2006 3:26 PM  
Anonymous stephanie said...

I knew it. I knew I wasn't a freak. I'm just a supertaster.

11/27/2006 3:26 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

Hey, if you know anything scientific about those superpoopers I'd love to hear it. I know more than one! (And why are they always at my house?)

Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

11/28/2006 12:20 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Hmmm, better not let my daughter read this one, she'll use it as an excuse for her "pickyness" when it comes to veggies!!

Hope you had a super Turkeyday :o)

12/03/2006 8:35 PM  

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Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


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