What goes on inside our bodies when we eat food? Here are some facts, according to the book “Gulp,” by Mary Roach:
First: We smell food with our FOUR nostrils. There are the two nostrils you see at the front of your nose and two more at the other end of the nasal passage at the back of your mouth. Roach says those extra nostrils are important because smell accounts for up to 90-percent of how food tastes. And even if our nose was plugged and our tongue was ripped out, we’d still be able to taste because food molecules would float up into our nose from inside our mouth.
Also, our preference for certain foods comes from our EARS. Because aside from how food tastes or smells, we also judge food by how it sounds. And studies show that most people prefer the sound of crunchy foods over soft. Experts say it’s because we associate crunchy foods with being fresh. So if we bite into something that doesn’t have the crunch we expect, we perceive it as being stale or rotten and more likely to make us sick.
Then have you ever used a little spit to get a stain out? You were on to something. The enzymes in our saliva that break down food can work the same magic on stains and break them down too. In fact, the same enzymes that are in our saliva and the ones that break down food in our gut are used in laundry detergents and dishwashing liquids to break down food particles.
Finally, know this: Being gassy after eating is a GOOD thing. Hydrogen sulfide is the compound that makes our gas stink, but it’s beneficial to our health. Scientists have long known that taking high doses of certain medicines like aspirin put us at a higher risk for ulcers. But when aspirin is combined with the hydrogen sulfide in our gut, ulcers are less common. Those sulfur compounds can also help fight tumors. So basically: The gas left over from digesting food may help save our lives.