Rachel Mulheren http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1647-0149
Ross M. Westemeyer http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5803-8173
Angela M. Dietsch http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4554-5365
Date of this Version
Published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (2022)
Consuming foods and liquids for nutrition requires the coordination of several muscles. Swallowing is triggered and modified by sensory inputs from the aerodigestive tract. Taste has recently received attention as a potential modulator of swallowing physiology, function, and neural activation; additionally, taste impairment is a sequela of COVID-19. This review presents factors impacting taste and swallowing, systematically summarizes the existing literature, and assesses the quality of included studies. A search was conducted for original research including taste stimulation, deglutition-related measure(s), and human participants. Study design, independent and dependent variables, and participant characteristics were coded; included studies were assessed for quality and risk of bias. Forty-eight articles were included after abstract and full-text review. Synthesis was complicated by variable sensory components of stimuli (taste category and intensity, pure taste vs. flavor, chemesthesis, volume/amount, consistency, temperature), participant characteristics, confounding variables such as genetic taster status, and methods of measurement. Most studies had a high risk of at least one type of bias and were of fair or poor quality. Interpretation is limited by wide variability in methods, taste stimulation, confounding factors, and lower-quality evidence. Existing studies suggest that taste can modulate swallowing, but more rigorous and standardized research is needed.