Science Catch-up. Introducing “Oleogustus”

by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

Welcome to our Thursday’s Science Catch-up: curated links by The Health Sciences Academy. Get our email updates every other Thursday here (it’s free).

Let’s catch you up with studies and news that recently made the headlines!

Click on your favourite topics to read our summary:

1. Meet me (Alex) at Food Matters Live!

2. Introducing “oleogustus”: Fat confirmed as your sixth basic taste

3. The world’s biggest sugar eaters

4. Eating “for two” during pregnancy not necessary

5. Chinese grandparents are making their grandkids fat

6. Choosing the right running shoes

7. Scientists scan the brain to see how stress undermines your diet


Science Catch-up Links:

Meet me (Alex) at Food Matters Live! • I’m speaking at Food Matters Live here in London, UK, one of the largest events for food science and nutrition professionals in Europe. Mark in your calendar the dates and times I’ll be presenting: Changing dietary behaviour on Wednesday 18 November and Nutrients and the connection to phenotypes and genotypes on Thursday 19 November. If you can make it, I’d love to meet you! Register here for free entry.


Introducing "oleogustus": Fat confirmed as your sixth basic taste • Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami and… oleogustus? Yes, fat is officially the sixth taste! Scientists discovered that longer chain fatty acids signal our taste buds differently. Even Wikipedia rushed to add oleogustus to their repertoire! The oleogustus molecules in isolation taste pretty bad though (described as “irritating” by study participants), but added to foods could make things taste a lot better. So far food manufacturers have been trying to mimic fat’s texture rather than its taste. Of course, there’s more to flavour than just your taste buds: here we explain how your brain can be tricked to taste something different!


The world's biggest sugar eaters • Food Maters Live published my commentary on the added sugars debate. In there you’ll find our graph listing the world’s biggest sugar eaters by country… guess who’s on top? Will you find your own country in this list? Probably a good sign if you don’t! If you'd like to understand your brain on sugar, I recommend reading: Why is sugar so hard to resist?

Worlds Biggest Sugar Eaters_By The Health Sciences Academy_Where people eat the most sugar


Eating “for two” during pregnancy not necessary Scientists find a new explanation of why “eating for two” when pregnant is a myth. They suspect that a mum’s gene expression changes soon after conceiving, even before the fertilised egg grows, to make her intestines larger (so they can absorb more nutrients from the same amount of food) and to store more body fat. It’s early research using lab models, but gives an interesting new angle previously overlooked!


Chinese grandparents are making their grandkids fat Did you know that China has become the second fattest country in the world? Far from the stats collected by the China Study a few decades ago! Apparently Chinese grandparents show their affection by over-feeding their grandchildren with junk food… This brings another point: the influences of family members on childhood obesity. Showing your love for the little ones in the form of food treats and dessert isn’t doing them any good!


Choosing the right running shoes Can running shoes cause running injuries? Or is it a myth? Some go as far as running barefoot! Biomechanics scientists reviewed a decade’s worth of studies about running injuries, and explain how to choose the right running shoes for you. The verdict? “Preferred movement path” and the “comfort filter” seem to do the trick.


Scientists scan the brain to see how stress undermines your diet Interesting brain study showing how chronic stress can cancel out your self-control around food. Dealing with a bad boss, arguing with a colleague, coming back home after a stressful day at work… they can all deplete your willpower and any good long-term dieting intentions! What stresses you out the most? Let us know by voting in our poll.


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What has inspired you this week? What are your thoughts on some of these topics? Leave a comment and let us know!

The-Health-Sciences-Academy-Alejandra-Ruani-small1-right Alejandra "Alex" Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for their students. She is a Harvard-trained scientist and UCL doctoral researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups.

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