Every one of us, I learned through my preliminary research for Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense, probably has a unique set of genes for taste and odor receptors. So each person lives in their own flavor world. I wanted to know what my genes said about my own world.
Our senses of smell and taste detect chemicals in the environment as they bind to receptors on the olfactory epithelium in the nose or on taste buds studding the mouth…Variation in any of these genes—and, probably, many other genes that affect the pathways involved in taste or smell—should affect how we perceive the flavors of what we eat and drink.
My genotype yielded puzzling results. My version of the sweet-receptor gene is less responsive than normal, which should make me prefer sweeter food and drinks…But that doesn’t match my eating habits: I’m generally indifferent to dessert, and I detest sweetened coffee or tea.
So why don’t my genes match my culinary preferences? The reason, probably, is that nurture matters at least as much as nature in molding anyone’s flavor destiny.
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