When science decodes the odors remaining in the mouth

How do we explain that sometimes we retain the taste of a good dish in the mouth, long or less after we have tasted it? Or, on the contrary, that an unpleasant smell persists? The duration of the perception of aromatic notes, whether pleasant or not, has a very important influence on the pleasure associated with food.

The INRAE ​​research team explored this question, which remains open in the scientific world. They have an associated approach in vivo, Implementation of sensory and instrumental experiences and ex vivo Using a model of the human oral mucosa.

Consider the physiological reactions that occur during food processing in the mouth to understand the persistence of odors

the approach ex vivoAnd It is performed using a cellular model of the oral mucosa, which reconstitutes the thin layer of saliva proteins that is attached to the surface of our oral cells – this is called the mucous film. It appears that the odors interact with the mucous membrane and are retained there. In addition, odor molecules are metabolized there in one form or another: that is, they are decomposed by saliva, depending on their chemical composition.

studying in vivo This confirms the first results. In this step, the researchers equipped 54 volunteers with a probe in the nose, connected to a device that makes it possible to monitor the release of scent molecules in real time. Then these people tasted the solutions with five different scents. Scientists were able to measure how quickly the smell particles disappear, as well as the appearance of particles resulting from their decomposition.

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These two combined approaches allow the oral mucosa to be shown for the first time in the stability of odors: more deterioration lasts for a shorter period than less.

These results contradict current knowledge about the molecular origins of aromatic persistence. They offer new perspectives to explain the differences in perception among people and to modify the aromatic stability of our food, for example in developing products rich in vegetable proteins, which are often characterized by an aromatic green aroma.

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