The tongue is one of the most crucial we can think of. It is a sense organ, an essential part of our digestion and immune systems, and one of the only parts of our body that interacts with what we put in our mouth. The tongue is also fascinating! Here are some amazing facts about it.
Your tongue consists of an outer papillae layer and an inner mucosa layer. The papillae contain around 3,000-8,000 tiny bumps called “taste buds.”
Each of the thousands of taste buds on your tongue contains 50-100 taste cells. While they are all capable of sense, they each prefer one type of taste sensation. There are five basic tastes, salty, sour, sweet, and bitter. The fifth taste is called umami, which means savory.
Number of Papillae
On average, humans have around 10,000 taste buds. People from Southeast China have the highest number, around 14,000. People from North and South America have an average of 9,000 taste buds and about 8,100. Asians and Africans, on the other hand — especially Africans — tend to have fewer papillae with an average of 6,200 taste buds each.
The tip of your tongue has the highest concentration of papillae and is the most sensitive part. The least sensitive parts are at the bottom of your tongue and the back.
You have a taste blind spot on each side at the front tip on both sides of the tongue. Because you have two sides, you have four taste blind spots altogether.
The taste buds on your tongue are very special. “Taste” actually refers to your sense of taste, as well as your sense of smell. It uses the same nerve cells because we’ve discovered that when you “taste” something, you also smell it.
Certain facial expressions can indicate what you’re tasting, how your food tastes, and how you like them. For example, a smile shows a pleasant flavor, while a grimace indicates a strong flavor is unpleasant or offensive at worst!
Your tongue can get fat too. For example, your tongue may start swirling if you consume a lot of sugary or salty food. Usually, fat deposits on your tongue are caused by gout or a condition called “hyperlipidemia.”
Several different types of infections can affect the taste buds and the papillae. This will cause burning sensations in the mouth and an unpleasant change in taste. These include many different types of infections and fungi, as well as burns, herpes, and even cancer.
The tongue can tell when something is sweet or salty before reaching the mouth in what’s called “a pre-taste.” Pre-taste is the body’s way of telling you that something is toxic.
Just like fingerprints, everyone has a unique tongue print. During development in the womb, the tongue begins to take its shape under the influence of genetics, hormones, and gender. The shape of your tongue can help determine your height, eye color, and several other things.
The shape and size of your tongue matters in terms of taste. Most people who are left-handed tend to have tongues that are more curved and wider than their right-handed counterparts. This is because the tongue is the only muscle in your body that moves independently.
The bottom line is that your tongue is amazing! Try to keep it clean and healthy, because as long as you take care of it, you will be eating well for a long time!