In The End of Overeating, Dr. David Kessler writes about hyper-palatable foods.
They are processed foods designed to spark the brain’s reward system.
These junk foods are a carefully designed concoction of sugar, fat, and salt.
Alone, those things aren’t that powerful, but combining them and the trio creates a feedback loop that leads to “hyper-eating.”
It triggers cravings, makes you overeat, and leaves you wanting more.
Now, a study shows that the end result of eating too many hyper-palatable foods – gaining fat – can even change how food tastes.
The Life Span of Taste Buds
Researchers studied mice and made them obese…
Then They Studied Their Taste Buds
The obese mice, surprisingly, had 25% FEWER taste bud cells than lean mice.
The researchers concluded that the inflammation associated with fat gain reduces the number of taste buds on the tongue.
They noted: “…low-grade inflammation brought on by obesity reduces the number of taste buds in gustatory tissues of mice – and is likely the cause of taste dysfunction seen in obese populations – by upsetting this balance of renewal and cell death.”
Human taste buds (or taste sensory cells) die and regenerate quickly; their average lifespan is just a few weeks.
So this effect is reversible with weight loss.
But if you keep gaining fat, you’ll regenerate fewer and fewer taste bud cells.
How Does This Affect Me?
When I speak with an overweight or obese individual they’ll often tell me that they, ironically, don’t even enjoy food anymore.
They will also tell me they are “Bored” of healthy food.
Now we know part of the reason why: food doesn’t taste as good because they have fewer taste bud cells.
We can theorize that this is part of the reason why overweight people reach for increasingly sugary foods.
These hyper-flavored foods taste normal to them.
A lean person may find vegetables sweet and desserts overly sweet.
However, an obese person wouldn’t taste the natural sweetness in vegetables at all.
Furthermore, they’d want an increasingly larger amount of desserts.
Also, neither would be satisfying.
This could also become a slippery slope even for the non-obese person who enjoys one too many cheat meals.
The more body fat you gain, the more sweetness you’ll need to satisfy your “sweet tooth.”
Also, the harder it’ll be to enjoy healthy foods.
However, as you lose body fat, you’ll grow more taste buds and be more sensitive to healthy flavors.
The Take-Home Message:
Don’t gain additional body fat.
It can be hard at first to overcome your taste buds…
However, on the bright side…it can be reversed with healthy eating due to the constant turnover of your taste buds.
You’ll just have to have The Right Diet Strategy until those new cells proliferate and replenish.
Then, it will become increasingly easier to eat well.