Why You Can’t Taste Food Without Saliva

Without saliva, you wouldn't be able to enjoy that decadent slice of double fudge cake, but how exactly does it help us taste food? While your taste buds might be responsible for your sense of taste, without food being dissolved in saliva, the receptors on your tongue can’t detect food molecules. You can try it yourself. Just wipe your tongue with a paper towel, and that double fudge cake will seem tasteless. That’s because enzymes in your saliva break down the structures of foods and release food molecules that are then ready to be picked up by your taste bud receptors. The receptors identify each flavor and send signals to your brain to let you know whether the food you’re eating is salty, sweet or bitter. Here’s another little tidbit for you — your saliva contains a natural painkiller, a chemical compound called opiorphin. Although it’s six times stronger than morphine, the opiorphin in your saliva isn’t high enough to reduce pain just by licking where it hurts.