THE HUMAN TONGUE IS TUNED TO TASTE CARBOHYDRATES
If you have ever wondered why ‘diet foods’ taste bland and unsatisfying, it’s because your tongue isn’t picking up the taste of carbohydrates as there aren’t many carbs in diet food. Worse than that, when your tongue recognises carbs in your food, it sends pleasure signals to your brain. No carbohydrates on your fork, no fun for your pleasure centres. The people in white coats report that as well as the basic five ‘tastes’ of; sweet, sour, salty, savory, and bitter, the human tongue has a ‘sixth sense’ and can identify carbohydrates. Given that carbohydrates rapidly break down in the body, turning to sugar in the blood, the ‘taste’ of starches tells the brain to expect an instant hit of energy in the form of sugar.
Carbohydrates hit areas of the sensory system and brain that remain totally unaffected by artificial sweeteners. Crucially, this happens if you merely taste the carbs and don’t even swallow them. Dr Nicholas Grant from the University of Auckland’s Sport and Exercise Department says; ‘Carbohydrates are extremely powerful stimuli that have profound and immediate effects on the brain and the systems it controls.’ This sixth sense on the tongue for carbs might explain why sportsmen respond immediately to carbohydrate-rich food. It might also explain a lot about eating disorders.
The good news is that because this happens direct from the mouth to the brain, you don’t even have to swallow the bread / potatoes / rice / beans to get this particular jolt. Studies have shown that having a carbohydrate-rich drink and using it as a mouthwash, (spit the stuff out), improves performance during strenuous exercise without giving your body all those calories. This does not work with sugar-based solutions, just carbohydrates. Sugar and carbohydrates together works even better as an energy mouthwash, allegedly. MRI studies show that sweet carbohydrate solution swished around the mouth activates the areas of the human brain linked to ‘sight’ and ‘reward.’ The carbohydrate taste is completely different to the sweet taste, so the brain receives two separate signals. Motor output and therefore physical performance are improved, just by the brain telling the body that there’s energy on the way.
The bad news is that, if a sportsman doesn’t ingest the carbohydrates the brain will tell the body that it has more reserves of energy than actually exist. Great for weight-loss, bad if you’re running a marathon. The other bad news is that carb-rich foods stimulate the areas in the brain involved with cravings. I know people who have a craving for carbohydrates such as; bread, chocolate, cakes…. It isn’t pretty.
Because just tasting carbohydrates on your tongue sends signals to the pleasure centres in the brain, people can become addicted to carbohydrate-rich foods. These include, (but are not limited to): bread, bagels, biscuits, cakes, cereal, chocolate, cookies, crackers, danish, french fries, fruits and fruit juices, ice cream, potato chips, (crisps), pasta, potatoes, pretzels, rice, pies, popcorn, sugary drinks, and sweetcorn. Carbohydrate addiction is a recognised medical condition.
Some respected psychologists, doctors, dieticians, and food scientists, claim the carbohydrates, sweets, (candy), and chocolate are as addictive as cigarettes. Eating too many hot dogs is just another form of substance addiction. The sugar rush created when we eat these foods stimulates the same areas of the brain that respond to nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs. The problem is that carbohydrates and sugars are like other addictive drugs in that the ‘addict’ has to consume ever larger amounts of the chemical of their choice to get a satisfactory hit. Consuming ever larger amounts of carbs and sugars makes people fat, obese, morbidly obese and dead.
So, the parts of the brain that respond to carbohydrates are the same areas that are linked to alcoholism, smoking, substance abuse and dependence. That does not sound good.
It just gets worse. The brain is run on things called neurotransmitters, which allow signals to pass between nerve cells. When you take cocaine, smoke, drink booze, eat carbohydrates, a neurotransmitter called dopamine is created. Dopamine goes right to the pleasure centres of the brain. The reason dopamine is created from carbs is because the release of insulin into the blood causes a huge blood sugar spike. This is particularly bad when we eat wheat products, potatoes, and corn starch. It’s even worse than that for diabetics because they can go into shock and die from eating too many high-glycemic carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates, alcohol and too much tobacco are leading you on the path to type 2 diabetes anyway.
The question is, is a low carbohydrate diet the answer? Perhaps that depends on how bad your addictions are. However, too many carbohydrates are really bad for the human body, whatever way you look at it. Refined carbohydrates, principally from wheat flour, corn flour and corn starch are toxic. The blood sugar produced is responsible for visceral fat. The infamous ‘beer belly.’ If you have a beer belly, not only do you look disgusting, you are also unhealthy. Visceral fat, (omentum fat), affects your body’s ability to produce insulin, which is essential for the proper digestion of sugar in the blood, and you’re back on your way to type 2 diabetes again.
Depending on who and what you read, it takes from 3 to 28 days to detoxify your body and kick an addiction to carbohydrates. Personally, being very familiar with 12-step self-help programmes, I am more inclined to think that it takes 28 days to kick your carb addiction. That will mean giving up on wheat products, potatoes, corn sugars, refined table sugar, fizzy drinks, and, (because of cross addiction), probably booze and cigarettes for 28 days. Allegedly, the half-dozen foods you should almost never eat if you have a weight booze, tobacco, carbohydrate problem and would like to lose your belly fat are;
- Concentrated fruit juice drinks. These are nothing but sugar-water.
- Highly processed foods like TV dinners, candy, and chocolate ice creams. Often full of corn syrup and / or dextrose which are very bad for you.
- Margarine. This stuff is full of trans-fats, which can give you heart disease, increase bad cholesterol, and kill you. Butter is better.
- Wheat and wheat products, including whole wheat. Bread, pasta, pizza, cake, cookies and other comfort foods.
- Processed soy. Soy milk, tofu, vegetarian ‘meats’ etc… 95% of soya grown in the USA is genetically modified. This stuff is unhealthy.
- Corn and corn products. Especially GM corn. Genetically modified corn is just as bad as ‘modern’ wheat when it comes to toxins your body does not like.
The bottom line is, Highly refined foods are full of bad stuff. Too much carbohydrate is going to kill your chances of being a manly man,