MAR 17, 2016 11:03 AM PDT

Why Food Makes Us Drool

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Imagine it's dinnertime, and you're at your favorite restaurant waiting for your meal to arrive. Just the aromas of the foods being prepared in the kitchen are enough to stir a chorus from your stomach. Now the waiter brings out your plate of food, and you start drooling uncontrollably. But how and why?

The instinct to salivate upon food cues is evolutionarily conserved and represents an important step for digestion and food consumption. Saliva functions to moisten food, making it easier to chew and swallow. In addition, it also contains special enzymes that further help break down food before it reaches the stomach.

Specific to the enzyme salivary amylase that breaks down starches, scientists have reported that humans actually carry more genetic copies of this gene than our ape relatives. This could be due to the evolution of our diet and digestive system. Watch the video to become more aware of your salivary glands next time you see tasty foods!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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