If you can’t stand broccoli, celery, or kale, you may be a supertaster and can protect you from COVID-19.
Supertasters are very sensitive people to bitterness. The researchers said they are not only less likely to get COVID-19 than people who are less sensitive to spicy and pungent flavors, but are also less likely to end up hospitalized.
Moreover, supertasters in a new study experienced symptoms of COVID-19 for only five days, compared with an average of 23 days among those who did not taste.
Exactly how or even whether taste affects the risk of COVID-19 is not fully understood, but researchers have a theory.
Bitter taste receptors, including one called T2R38, are found in the taste buds of the tongue.
“When T2R38 is stimulated, it responds by producing nitric oxide to help kill or prevent virus replication in the respiratory mucosasaid researcher Dr. Henry Barham, a specialist in ears, nose and throat in Baton Rouge, La. mucous membranes line your respiratory system and provide a point of entry for viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19.
“The results have important implications, such as allowing people to make more informed decisions and prioritizing vaccination administration,” Barham said.
This study included about 2,000 people (mean age 46 years) the ability to taste them was tested with strips of paper. They were all tested before having COVID-19 as it could compromise their taste and smell.
Participants were divided into one of three groups: non-tasters, super tasters, and tasters.
Those who don’t taste are people who don’t detect certain bitter flavors at all. Supertasters, on the other hand, are extremely sensitive to bitterness and can detect excessively small levels. The tasters fit somewhere intermediate.
During the study, 266 participants tested positive for COVID-19. Those who did not taste were much more likely to become infected than supertasters and also had more COVID-19.
Tasters are likely to show mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, which often do not require hospitalization. The study found that those who had underlying conditions or were older with a decreased ability to taste bitterness
The findings were published online on May 25 a JAMA network open.
Dr. Alan Hirsch, neurological director of the Foundation for Odor and Taste Research and Treatment in Chicago, has dedicated his career to studying the effects of odor and taste loss on disease. He reviewed the results of the study.
“The new findings make a lot of sense,” he said. Hirsch suggested that people would benefit from knowing their own tasting status.
“If you can’t taste the bitterness, you’ll need to be much more careful and wear masks for longer to protect yourself from COVID-19,” Hirsch said. Unfortunately, he added, most people don’t know what kind of taster they are.
Tests at home and in the office can tell you where you fit taste spectrum.
But here’s a simpler option: “If celery is bitter to you,” Hirsch said, “you’re a supercaster, and if you’re not, be careful.”
Henry P. Barham et al, Association between the bitter taste receptor phenotype and clinical outcomes among patients with COVID-19, JAMA network open (2021). DOI: 10.1001 / jamanetworkopen.2021.11410
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Citation: Are some foods super bitter for you? You may have a lower risk of COVID (2021, May 25) recovered on May 25, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-foods-super-bitter-covid.html
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