Upsides to Being a Supertaster: Your Immune System Rules

According to a new study, the same bitter receptors that make you hate Brussels sprouts also help prevent bacterial infections

Supertasters have another thing to feel superior about nowadays: research shows that people who are more susceptible to bitter tastes also have a better chance of avoiding common bacterial infections.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that bitter receptors in the sinus are also involved in activating the immune system, working as an "early detection system" for bacterial invaders.

People who think Brussels sprouts are bitter are more likely to be supertasters, meaning they have the responsive bitter receptor gene called TAS2R38. Unfortunately, nearly a third of people in the U.S. and in Europe lack the specific taste-receptor, meaning they're more susceptible to upper respiratory infections.

The research suggests that certain bitter compounds can be used to trigger the immune system, thus preventing bacterial infections. Researchers are looking into a bitter nasal spray and other tactics to ward off infections for those lacking the receptors. So all you non-tasters, you'll catch up eventually.

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