What Effects Does Sugar Have on the Taste Buds?

Sugars of every kind can be detected by your tongue's taste buds.
Sugars of every kind can be detected by your tongue's taste buds. (Image: Photos.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Each person has over 3,000 taste buds on their tongue that can register a variety of taste. Without taste buds, food wouldn't be as enjoyable as it is. Being able to detect sweet, sour and bitter tastes allows your brain to relax and your digestive system to function. Taste buds can also detect when an unusual illness or a disease might be invading your body.

Identify Sugar

When you take a first bite in a sugary treat or any other food that contains sugar, your taste bud's first reaction is to detect the level of sweetness. Researchers have known for quite a while that it's the T1r2 and Tir3 receptors located in your taste buds that help your body identify glucose, sucrose and artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame. These sensors are also present in the pancreas and intestine. Detecting sugar is the first step towards digestion. From there your stomach will produce the enzymes needed to digest the amount of sugar detected in your taste buds.

Control Your Appetite

Another important function that is triggered from your taste buds' capacity to detect sugars is the monitoring of glucose and insulin levels. Researchers suspect that a specific sensor call the KATP channel is responsible for this function. Being able to better understand how the KATP channel works may help researchers understand how to limit over-consumption of sweets and how to better control appetite. However, foods that are registered as being sweet by your taste buds but that have no calories such as aspartame can create an urge to eat and overeat which can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Taste Disorder

If you eat too much sugar, your taste buds can also weaken or die, leaving you with a variety of taste disorders. Without the ability to detect food's taste, you cannot identify spoiled items or the presence of specific ingredients to which you might be allergic too. Loosing the sensation of taste can also create a range of other serious health issues sch as heart diseases, diabetes and strokes because people will tend to eat too much sugar without being aware of it.


Eating too much sugar is also a precursor to candidiasis, a yeast infection that can grow out of control and cause a variety of physical and mental symptoms. Other common factors that cause candidiasis include use of antibiotics and steroid treatments, diets high in refined carbohydrates, and the antibiotics and hormones present in the meat of the animals we eat. Too much consumption of sugar results in the activation of candidiasis.

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