Mâcon-Vergisson wordt misschien wel de mooiste Bourgogne wijn
If you are a supertaster, you might have some natural resistance to Covid-19, according to a new study released last week. But if your tasting abilities are below average, you might be extra vulnerable..
The report titled "Association Between Bitter Taste Receptor Phenotype and Clinical Outcomes Among Patients with Covid-19" was published on JAMA Network Open, an online journal run by the American Medical Association. The authors followed 1935 people in 2020 who had occupational exposure to Covid-19, measuring their ability to taste bitterness and keeping track of their experiences with the coronavirus.
Current research posits that 25 percent of the population are supertasters, 50 percent are medium tasters, and 25 percent are nontasters, to whom most food tastes bland and unexciting. If you know someone who says "all these wines taste the same to me", that person is probably a nontaster and you should share this study with them.
The study showed that the nontaster group were more likely to test positive for Covid-19, more likely to develop symptoms, and more likely to be hospitalized.
At the same time, supertasters were less likely to test positive than either nontasters or medium tasters, suggesting that being a supertaster offers some sort of protection against the virus. None of the supertasters in the study who did develop Covid-19 were hospitalized.
It turns out that previous studies have shown that what Dr Barham calls "a higher expression of the receptors" – i.e., more intense taste experiences – is correlated with a lower risk of bacterial infection.
There's even a potential physical reason for this, although the study shows correlation, not cause. Dr Barham built on previous studies of taste receptors, specifically TAS2R38, which perceives bitter tastes.
"When these receptors activate, they do several things, including increasing the action of the cilia [small hairs] and increasing mucous production," Barham told Wine-Searcher. "They also produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has been shown to inhibit the spike protein of the virus that causes Covid-19."
In other words, when a supertaster has broccoli, coffee or Pinot Blanc, the bitter taste receptor TAS2R38 activates, releasing virus-fighting nitric oxide. But a nontaster who can eat kale without noticing the bitterness produces no nitric oxide, so if there is virus in their nose, it can keep replicating without interference. (There is a common Chinese expression saying that it's good to "eat bitterness." Finally science has caught up.)
Barham said it would be a mistake for supertasters to believe that they are immune to Covid-19. But the converse is important: if you feel like you taste in pastels when the rest of the world tastes in neon, you should take extra precautions because you may be more vulnerable.
"There's a lot of people who are wary of vaccines," Barham said. "This could be used as a way to help promote vaccines and other protective measures."