A supertaster is described as anyone who experiences the taste sensation at a greater intensity than what is commonly referred to as normal. Certain people are more apt to be sensitive to taste, such as women, Asians, Africans and anyone of European descent.
The cause of this taste sensitivity is not completely known, however it is at least partly suspected to be due to an increased amount of fungform papillae on the surface of the tongue.
The papillae on the tongue of a supertaster differ in their appearance than that of most people, they are smaller and more tightly packed. Each papillae contain taste buds and the more papillae the more taste buds.
Supertasters have approximately 1,000 more taste buds per square centimeter than that of most people, which that can by itself cause supertasters to be more sensitive that the majority of other people.
The other difference of that makes superstasters tongues special concerns an increased sensitivity to physical stimuli. Taste buds transmit information to the brain by two different types of nerves. One type sends the information of taste such as sour or sweet. The other transmission sends information such as temperature and painful stimuli. Supertasters by having more taste buds can not only have a heightened sense of bitterness but can also detect at a much higher level any coldness or excessive heat. Many supertasters for example dislike carbonated drinks because they over stimulate their highly sensitive tongues, making them highly sensitive to the tingling sensation.
Supertasters are born with their heightened sensitivity to tastes, the tongues of supertasters appear more bumpy. People who are supertasters don’t usually suffer from obesity or cadiovascular disease since their heightened sensitivity to sugar and other tastes make them much more likely to be extremely picky eaters. Many times children growing up who are extremely picky eaters and would rather starve than eat certain foods, are unfortunately labeled stubborn or high strung. However on close examination many of these very picky eaters can be tested and shown to be supertasters, with a heightened sensitivity to certain taste sensations and thereby making it difficult for them to eat certain foods.
Examples of taste sensations or smells that supertasters have a heightened sensitivity to include:
They don’t tend to like a lot of super-sweet foods and therefore tend not be overweight. Although they may indulge in some sweets they commonly can push away overindulging in too sugary foods or they may comment frequently on something being too rich or too sweet to eat.
They tend to have an heightened sense of smell, pointing out odors faster than other people.
They may not be like tastes that ignite tingling sensations such as mints.
Supertasters may have geographical tongues or tongues that appear creviced or cracked.
They may not be interested or extremely dislike cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Even when grown supertasters do not develop a taste for these types of vegetables.
Supertaster children will also try to relay their dislike of tastes by communicating that they don’t like that and would rather swap it for another food. An example might be a child saying they will eat double helpings of mashed potatoes instead of eating broccoli or asparagus. Showing they are willing to still eat good food just not something that they dislike in taste.
I have been a nurse for a long time and I can remember as a young mother talking to my pediatrician about my daughters eating habits and her dislikes on eating what was put before her. She was extremely skinny and full of energy and I was worried about her getting necessary vitamins and minerals because of her very picky eating habits. I can still remember the pediatrician then told me that it was normal for children to be picky and she would eat when she was hungry and for me not to worry about her diet. I however feel like I failed her because I tried to force her to eat many different vegetables and sauces that I prepared thinking that she was just being stubborn and hadn’t even given the vegetable a proper try. After all these years I have come to the conclusion that she indeed might be a supertaster and I let her down by not listening to her admonishments that she did not like the taste of certain things. If I knew then what I know now I would have given her more choices. It makes perfect sense now thinking back on her food choices that she wasn’t just being picky but indeed some foods like cabbage and broccoli were just not her to her liking as well as mushrooms and asparagus. I have also taking note of many others in my family who brush their tongues regularly have a heightened awareness to tastes and other sensations. Interesting enough I have noticed that many of them are extremely sensitive to hot foods and cold foods along with different tastes.
If you feel as though you maybe a supertaster, you should do more research into the condition and start a food diary listing taste sensations that you may be feeling which may be able to find out if your exhibiting a pattern indicative of a supertaster.
References for this article include: supertastertest.com/