Why do we crave certain foods? This mystery among us is often a topic of conversation, but somehow the answer to this question often seems to elude us. Well, until the Tuesday November 9th issue of the Personal Journal health and wellness section of the Wall Street Journal cast some light on why this natural occurrence exists, in an article written by Shirley S. Wang.
The article begins by stating that food preference is something that generally is determined by a combination of taste and texture. Taste in and of itself has become more clearly understood over the years, but this article states that scientists are only starting to get a glimpse of the role that the texture of foods plays in our cravings.
Amylase- A Digestive Enzyme
Results from research done at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia has revealed findings that the digestive enzyme amylase, known for breaking down starches and sugars may have a role in what we crave and find appealing with regard to different textures of foods. A newly completed genetics study has found that all of us are vastly different regarding the amounts of amylase that we produce. Those who have more of this enzyme in their mouths will liquefy starches quicker.
How Food Feels
Those scientists involved in this study feel that the results of this perhaps explain the reason for people experiencing food textures differently, and therefore drive our food cravings in specific directions.
Starchy foods like sauces, puddings, and more liquefied things like syrup may feel too thin and runny in texture to one person, whereas another person will experience the very same foods as just right in texture.
This study also found that amylase was only one part of the whole picture, and that our cravings are also driven by a complex process within the receptors of the nose, mouth, and tastebuds, from which messages are sent to the brain via all of these combined.
The Wall Street article goes on to say that amylase may provide an explanation for individual preferences for certain brands of foods like yogurt or ice cream due to the fact that specific brands contain a varied amount of starch.
As I read this Wall Street Journal article, I was impressed with how complex and intriguing our sense of taste is constructed between the body parts that are involved with it, combined with the enzyme activity. Wow…just another reason to marvel at how we’re put together!
Tuesday November 9th edition of Wall Street Journal
Personal Journal section