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J Med Invest. 2009;56 Suppl:197-204.

Contribution of umami taste substances in human salivation during meal.

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Physiology and Nutrition Group, Institute of Life Sciences, Ajinomoto Co., Inc., Kawasaki, Japan.


The oral gustatory perception during a meal has very important physiological roles such as inducing appetite, smoothing mastication and swallowing, promoting digestion and each nutrient availability. One hundred years ago, L-glutamate was discovered as a new taste substance in Japan. Since then, Japanese taste physiologists have lead the research to establish L-glutamate as the prototype molecule for the fifth basic taste (umami taste), in addition to saltiness, sweetness, bitterness and sourness. Meanwhile, various lines of evidence demonstrated that taste perception is linked to taste stimuli-oral/pharyngeal reflexes. In this review, we focus on the efficacy of L-glutamate for human salivation and discuss the possible application of umami taste simulation to the nutritional management for the elderly due to amelioration of their quality of life (QOL).

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