Ever heard that your tongue is divided into regions for different tastes? Did you know it’s a myth; and that you have chemoreceptors (taste buds) all over your mouth including the roof? Even more interesting you have ‘tastebuds’ in your tummy, well, actually in your gut, more specifically in your small intestine.

Your tastebuds are called chemoreceptors because basically that’s what they do. They are comprised of sensory nerve endings that mediate the biochemical from your food that become what you call, taste and flavor. All food breaks down into chemicals, whether you are eating an organic apple or drinking a diet coke, it all breaks down into chemical constituents that act as messengers. These chemicals mix with the bacteria and enzymes in your mouth and result in the wide variety of tastes and flavors that you enjoy on a daily basis.

enjoying foodOn average you have anywhere between 2,000 – 8,000 tastebuds in your mouth. Interestingly, not everyone has the same capacity to taste, whether due to genetics or injury. Some people have fewer tastebuds and/or damage to the nerve endings that send signals for various tastes through to the brain. The amount of tastebuds on your tongue help discern whether you are a Hyper Taster, a Taster, or a Tolerant Taster. Hyper Tasters, otherwise known as supertasters, have the widest distribution of tastebuds, making them incredibly sensitive to all kinds of flavors, especially things with volatile oils. Tasters are the larger portion of the population and they tend to have a moderate distribution of tastebuds, resulting in a moderate potential for taste. Tolerant Tasters have a few less tastebuds per centimeter and tend to tolerate all types of foods because they are much less sensitive. Of course, this is a spectrum and people can fall anywhere in between each end and regardless of how many tastebuds you have on your tongue, if you have had an injury or an infection that may have impacted your ability to transport the information from your tastebuds to your brain, that will impact how you taste as well.

Contrary to popular belief, your tongue is not divided into segments that focus on certain flavors. The chemoreceptors designated to each flavor, salt, sweet, umami, bitter, sour are located all over your tongue and even on the roof of your mouth and epiglottis. The chemoreceptors in your intestines are designed to sense glucose and potentially help regulate blood sugar.

Want to know more about your amazing tastebuds? Try this article Tastebud Terrorism