“Candy now tastes sickeningly sweet.” “Almonds are sweet.” “Foods taste better.” “My daughter now loves asparagus.”
I’ve heard these comments from Wheat Belly lifestyle followers numerous times over the years, observations that reflect the change in taste perception that develops with wheat and grain elimination from the diet.
Unlike many other aspects of this lifestyle, you’ll find no formal clinical studies of this effect, given the low priority taste perception rates in health considerations. But it is such a consistent effect observed by so many people that I believe it is safe to conclude that it is a genuine phenomenon: the perception of taste changes with elimination of wheat and grains. I say “resurrection” because I believe it is a restoration of taste perception that returns to the way it was supposed to have been, an effect that reflects the healing of the gastrointestinal tract (since the tongue is one of the entry points of the gastrointestinal system, a useful safety, as well as gastronomic, device) alongside relief from acid reflux, restoration of gallbladder sensitivity to fat digestion, restoration of pancreatic sensitivity when prompted to release pancreatic enzymes, relief from the bowel urgency of irritable bowel syndrome, and others. Precisely which component of grains is responsible for this effect–the direct toxic effects of wheat germ agglutinin, the direct and indirect effects of gliadin-derived peptides, or an allergic phenomenon due to alpha or omega gliadins, serpins, thioredoxins, alpha amylase inhibitors, and others–is not known.
“I can actually taste my food now. Chicken tastes juicier, my veggies have more texture and sweetness, and I crave water.”
“Now I can honestly say that, without the sneaky salt and sugar, my food has its own flavor and zing. I make sandwiches using large romaine or lettuce leafs in place of the bread. It lets the meat or vegetables shine thru instead of it being over powered by the bread.”
Mary Ann Z.
Of the various forms of taste, it is sensitivity to sweetness that stands out in the wheat/grain-free lifestyle. There is perhaps restored sensitivity to saltiness, as well (though I’ve not observed nor heard of any change in sensitivity to sourness, bitterness, or umami). It means that processed foods loaded with sweeteners, such as the intense sweetness of high-fructose corn syrup, or liberal use of sucrose, and heavily salted foods become unpalatable. Foods that people previously found irresistible are now perceived as overpoweringly sweet. Heavily salted fast foods are now perceived as heavily salted.
There’s an important observation in here: It becomes clearer and clearer that modern processed foods that now fill supermarket shelves have nearly all been oversweetened and oversalted to accommodate modern tastes distorted by wheat and grain consumption. The “sweet tooth” is really a “wheat tooth” or “grain tooth” initiated by some component of wheat and grains, with billions of dollars of products crafted to serve this taste distortion. We gain an obvious advantage with this effect: We no longer desire or tolerate such foods. Not only do most of us get sick with re-exposure to such foods–bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, mind “fog,” anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, joint pain, return of skin rashes, etc.–but they taste awful. Conversely, sticking to this lifestyle means that you enjoy the full dimensions of flavor in radishes, or walnuts, or salmon, even if these foods were previously tasteless to you.
It is yet another aspect of the peculiar and strained relationship that humans have experienced by trying to consume products that derive from the seeds of grasses.