Your Muscles Can Taste Sugar, Too

| May 29, 2017

The taste buds on our tongues make eating a pleasure, but they also have a more serious role in indicating whether something is good to eat or not. The sensations of sweetness, saltiness and umami (glutamate) encourage us to consume carbohydrates, sodium and amino acids, while bitter and sour tastes deter us from eating potentially harmful substances.

But the detection of taste isn’t limited to our tongues. In fact, many kinds of body cells have an ability to act like taste buds. Our digestive system, from stomach to large intestine, can taste what we have eaten and call up the enzymes needed to digest it. And taste receptors in our nose, windpipe and lungs detect bitter substances in the air we inhale, warning us of possible dangers.

Sweet taste receptors in the pancreas help keep our blood sugar levels in check by triggering the release of insulin, and similar receptors have been found in the brain, heart, bladder and kidneys, too. Now, the latest research has revealed that skeletal muscle cells – which make up the main muscles of our limbs and trunk – have the same ability.1

If sweet taste receptors are present in so many different parts of the body, they must be there for a reason. Their purpose is to help regulate the various hormonal and other systems that keep our bodies in a state of balance – what scientists call homeostasis. And they are likely to have been doing the job for millions of years, evolving at a time when sweetness only came from seasonal wild fruit and very occasional finds of bee’s honey.

Today, sweetness is everywhere. And it is our modern obsession with sweetness – whether from sugars or artificial sweeteners – that is overwhelming our built-in system of taste receptors, destabilising our metabolism and contributing to much of the chronic disease we see today. It could certainly be an important factor in metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

One of the conditions linked with poor blood sugar control is the eye disease, age-related macular degeneration, or AMD. And a new study suggests that a low-glycaemic diet may be the right way to treat it, as I report in my next blog post.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

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1. Meng ZX, Gong J, Chen Z et al. Glucose sensing by skeletal myocytes couples nutrient signaling to systemic homeostasis. Mol Cell. 2017; 66(3):332-344.


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Category: Diet and Exercise

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