New Research Explores Biophysical Aspects of Food Mouthfeel

A new study aims to better understand the biophysical mechanisms underlying taste sensations, potentially leading to the development of healthier food products without compromising mouthfeel.

Food texture and feel in the mouth play a significant role in its acceptance, varying widely among different foods. This complexity underscores the challenge of defining an optimal mouthfeel, which is influenced by factors such as food type, texture, and temperature.

One relatively underexplored area is the role of mechanoreceptors, which respond to pressure and stretching, in determining optimal mouthfeel and flavor. One of the researchers, Melanie Köhler, emphasizes the importance of understanding the interactions between these receptors, food constituents, and sensory molecules in the mouth to enhance our knowledge of mouthfeel.

The team’s research uses biological atomic force microscopy, which allows for the visualization of molecular interactions at an atomic level. By applying mechanical pressure to cells, researchers can activate mechanoreceptors and study their response, providing insights into the biophysical mechanisms of taste sensation.

This research is expected to challenge traditional definitions of flavor, which currently focus on taste and smell. Melanie Köhler suggests that including mechanical perception as a factor in defining flavor could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the sensory impression of food.

Looking ahead, the team hopes their research will contribute to the development of healthier food options that retain the enjoyable mouthfeel associated with traditional foods.


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