On November 10th, 2015 we learned about

The best breathing for finding a food’s flavor

My kids, apparently, are bad at eating. They methodically grind the vegetables they don’t want to eat, wallowing in each bite. Conversely, they crush their favorite foods into their mouth, mashing in things like candy as if it was about to run away if given the chance. Both techniques seem intuitively counter-productive, but new research has pinned down exactly what’s making both options just so unappetizing.

It’s not news that a lot of what we experience as “taste” is actually thanks to smell receptors in our nose. While our tongues (and digestive system) do certainly detect basic flavors in our food, if you can’t smell your food, you won’t get much out of it. If this were all there was to it, sniffing your food would be just as satisfying as chewing it, and we all know that that isn’t the case. Having the food in your mouth is a key component, thanks to in part to how we breath while eating.

Testing where tasting goes wrong

As you chew, you not only grind up your food to prepare it for further digestion, but you also release volatiles in your mouth. Those volatiles won’t do much there, but they have to amass and wait for an updraft when you exhale, which will carry them up to the back of your nasal passages where they’ll be properly appreciated by your smell receptors, and thus brain, as flavor.

This was discovered with a working model of a human mouth, nose and throat. Monitoring airflow during simulated eating allowed researchers to see all the ways this process can get derailed. As air goes in your nose, it’s moving with enough force to effectively block off volatiles from exiting your mouth. Gasping breaths, such as from shoving candy bar in one’s mouth all at once, can mean the volatiles instead get swallowed, inhaled into the lungs, or exhaled through the mouth, leaving you with no flavor to enjoy. Going to far the other way with slow breathing doesn’t work as well either. The weaker inhalation won’t trap the volatiles at the back of the mouth, so they can again be dissipated into the throat and lungs.j

So eat calmly and chew your food to really enjoy it. But something you’d rather avoid, maybe practice exhaling through your mouth.

Source: Mechanics Of Eating: Why You'll Miss Flavor If You Scarf Your Food by Angus Chen, the salt

Now in the 2 New Things Shop:

Unpopular Portraits

Close-ups of some of the world's less comely critters

Greening's Frog t-shirt from the 2 New Things Store

Greening's Frog ladies t-shirt