Food Composition and Taste


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More to Sweets?

Scientists have known from years ago that the T1r2 + T1r3 receptor within our taste cells on our tongues is the main mechanism by which we are able to detect sweet compounds. However, this commonly held belief that the way we are able to taste sweetness is from certain receptors in our tongue may not be the whole truth.

With the color coordinators, we can see where these T1R2 and T1R3 receptors are located on our tongues.

After researching, scientists have found that there’s much more to the taste for sweets and that its far more complex than we knew. Several other sensors that contributed to the detection of sweetness were found within our taste cells. These included those that are existent in our intestine and pancreas.

The various sugar taste sensors discovered are found to have different roles. For example, the sensor that is also found in the intestine is known as SGLT1, and it helps transport glucose into sweet taste cells, but only when sodium is present. This may explain why a pinch of salt added to baked goods, may enhance the sweetness of it.

This diagram basically shows the process of the SGLT1. You can see that glucose and Na+ go into the SGLT1 and out comes a Glut-2 along with an Na+ and K+

The sensor also found in the pancreas, a digestive organ, is known as the KATP channel and it is responsible for triggering the release of insulin when glucose levels rise.  The stu­dy’s au­thors spec­u­late that KATP may func­tion in sweet taste cells to mod­u­late taste cell sen­si­ti­vity to sugars according to met­a­bol­ic needs.

KATP channel structure

As one of the investigators of this research said “Sweet taste cells have turned out to be quite com­plex,” indeed it has. It’s really interesting to see how much more there is to tasting sweetness.

Author: Jennifer Lee