Nutrition Experts Assess Promising Role of Umami Taste in Battle Against Obesity and Malnutrition

By October 8, 2019 News

DUBLIN (9 October 2019) – Nutrition professionals around the world will convene in Dublin this month to discuss the latest strategies to address the obesity epidemic. One symposium will be examining the role of umami (one of the five basic tastes, known as the “savory” taste, which comes from glutamate) in light of recent research suggesting that umami not only makes food more appetizing but also increases the feeling of fullness, reducing the desire to overeat.

Recent scientific studies have shown that monosodium glutamate (MSG or E621), the sodium salt of glutamate described as “umami seasoning,” when added to an appetizer or soup prior to a meal can decrease appetite and food intake, especially among individuals with a propensity to overeat and gain weight. The results identify new ways to facilitate healthy eating without decreasing satisfaction with a meal, and reduce food intake.

The symposium is part of the 13th European Nutrition Conference, known as FENS 2019, organized by the Federation of European Nutrition Societies October 15-18 in Dublin, Ireland. The theme for the symposium is “The Importance of Sensory Properties, including Umami and Kokumi Substances, to Promote Healthy Dietary Patterns.”

umami taste

IGIS Symposium at FENS 2019

Experts at the symposium will discuss molecular and physiological mechanisms of taste perception, and specifically umami taste perception and umami’s role in regulating appetite. Participants will learn about the importance of umami taste as it affects food preference, as well as umami’s role in promoting healthy and balanced diets.

One expert speaker at the symposium will be Dr. Gabriella Morini, who is Assistant Professor of Taste and Food Sciences at the University of Gastronomic Sciences (Pollenzo, Italy). Her session will explore how umami food components (such as fermented sauces, cured meats, cheeses) are able to improve the overall palatability of food. She will report about taste receptors in parts of the body other than the oral cavity, such as in the gastrointestinal tract, where their activation generates responses that can influence important and different functions at a systemic level, from absorption and metabolization of nutrients to a role in appetite, satiety and response to bacteria.

Dr. Daniel Tomé, who is the director of the research unit for nutritional physiology and eating behaviour at INRA/AgroParisTech (Paris), will focus on the traditional role of glutamate as fuel for the intestinal cells and as a key molecule for many metabolic pathways. Glutamate, an amino acid which is produced in the human body for a variety of essential functions including metabolism of major nutrients such as protein, has an important role in taste preference for protein-rich foods.

Dr. CiaránForde, who is Senior Principal Investigator in Sensory Nutritional Science, at the Clinical Nutrition Research Center, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, will discuss how perceptual responses to a food’s taste, texture and mouthfeel properties can be used to influence eating behaviour and energy intake. For example, umami and kokumi taste signals could be used as a tool to maintain the palatibility of reduced calorie foods and beverages, making low-calorie and low-fat meals more desirable. (Kokumi is described as a “taste enhancer” providing “heartiness” or “mouthfulness”.)

Dr. Ana San Gabriel, secretariat of the International Glutamate Information Service (IGIS), the organization sponsoring the symposium, notes, “Understanding how sensory properties affect healthier food choices and energy intakes will support the development of behavioural and dietary strategies for better management of chronic conditions such as obesity.”

About FENS 2019

FENS 2019The FENS conference is held once every four years, and is the premier European meeting within nutritional science, bringing together nutrition and health professionals from across Europe. Over 2,500 delegates from across the UK, Europe and further afield are expected to attend.

FENS 2019 will explore European perspectives on “malnutrition in an obese world.” As rates of overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases have risen, undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies have persisted. With an estimated 2 billion people globally overweight and obese, a further 2 billion suffer from a micronutrient deficiency (source: Global Nutrition Report, 2018).

With the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) aiming to trigger action to eradicate all forms of malnutrition, FENS hopes to foster European collaboration and exchange of ideas, offering nutrition professionals the opportunity to broaden their knowledge on critical issues.

The International Glutamate Information Service (IGIS) is a non-profit organization communicating science-based information about umami, glutamate, and monosodium glutamate (umami seasoning). For more information, visit glutamate.org.

More details on this symposium addressing umami taste: IGIS Scientific Symposium at FENS 2019

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