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mouth shutDid you ever wonder about the difference between flavor and taste? I have quite often, especially when listening to food commercials and cooking shows. The words flavor and taste seem to be used interchangeably, as synonyms for each other. Time to put on the brakes! These two words have very different meanings. They cannot be substituted for each other. Taste refers to the chemical reaction that takes place in your mouth when a substance comes in contact with your taste buds. You have between 2000 – 5000 taste buds in the front, top, and back of your mouth. There are additional taste buds on the roof, sides, and bottom of your mouth. That is a lot of taste buds! Interestingly, each single taste bud has from 50 – 100 taste receptors. Wow, so much opportunity for taste! Sadly, people loose about half their taste receptors by the time they are twenty! That may explain why people’s tastes change as they age. Your taste buds receive taste ‘signals’ for sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami (savory). Each person’s combinations of the different taste buds is unique which explains why we don’t all like the same foods and drinks. Flavor involves texture and temperature, but most of all taste. You cannot have flavor without taste. When an individual swallows food, air  passes over the tongue and forces little bursts of air from within the mouth up into the back of the throat. Some of this air gets into your nasal area. Taste, plus air creates smell which then produces flavor. A person who chews with their mouth open, or even partially open, is not allowing much of the air from within your mouth to be pushed up into their nasal area and are weakening the smell created to build taste. So the rhyme and reason of all this is people who eat with their mouth closed and chew slowly are giving themselves the treat of more flavor from their food. Food becomes more satisfying! Slow, closed-mouth chewing may also help a person eat less as one reason people eat is for flavor enjoyment. If your food is satisfying, (full of flavor) you may eat less as your are not searching for flavor. No matter what the reason try chewing slowly and with your mouth completely closed. If nothing else you will at least be giving yourself the treat of full flavor from your food. As an extra bonus, your mother will be proud of you!

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