It all started a few weeks ago: a user of the popular social network TikTok spread a scientific study that she had found on Twitter where she claimed to have found receptive cells of the sense of taste (that is, those we have in the language and with which we are able to detect the flavors) in parts of the body such as the brain, lungs and testicles. With this information, the famous “tiktoker” challenged her male followers to somehow prove what she understood as the ability of the male genitals to “taste” food. A misunderstanding that, however, has become viral and has ended up spreading like wildfire, with several “volunteers” dipping their reproductive system in soy sauce. But what about science in all this?
Three scientific studies on the subject
In reality, little or nothing if what is desired is to conduct a scientific experiment. Although it is true that the study does exist, published in the PNAS magazine in February 2013. In it, Bedrich Mosinger and his colleagues at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, explain that it has long been known that these receptors were not only in the testicles, but also in the sperm, but their exact function was unknown. To know it, the researchers tried to inhibit these cells in mice, which led them to detect reproductive problems in animals: their sperm did not form properly and, in addition, they were immobile, which caused the males to be sterile. Therefore, the group suggested that these cells probably had something to do with sperm formation, which opened a whole field in the investigation of male sterility, including that of men.
Months later, a review by a team from Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) was published in the “Molecular Human Reproduction” magazine, which delved into the results. It explains that perhaps the presence of these cells in the sperm cells served as a kind of “detector” in their path of fertilization to the ovule. Nevertheless, they point out that “although taste receptors are widely dispersed in various organ systems, the function of these receptors in many tissues remains unclear despite recent advances.” In addition, it emphasizes that it is even more complicated to explain its function in the testicles and sperm.
Just a year ago, a new publication in the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences” pointed out that, as Mosinger’s team suspected, “taste receptors are functionally operative to control successful sperm production.” But, in none of the three studies does anything say that these cells present in the male reproductive system can make them
“Savor” in some way with that part of the body. That is, the experiment is totally useless and not scientific at all.
How to “taste” with the skin of the cheek
«Taste buds are only in our mouths and in the upper esophagus, and are a group of taste receptor cells. The taste buds signals are sent from the mouth to the brain so that we can consciously perceive the flavors (…) However, the taste cells present in the testicles do not activate the taste cortex in the brain, ”explains Sciencealert
Emma Beckett, nutrition expert at the University of Newcastle, in Australia. «You can think of them like any other receiver in the body that is monitoring the environment. They can detect infections, since bacteria have sweet structural compounds and secrete bitter and sour substances as wastes. For example, there is evidence that the cells present in the lungs and nose are involved in the regulation of inflammatory responses, ”he continues.
Therefore, the men who accepted the challenge and claimed to have detected the “umami” taste of soy sauce with their genitals or have lied or are wrong. Besides that the experiment, in any case, is not valid, since the cells were found in the testicles themselves and the “voluntary human guinea pigs” wet their scrotum (the skin surrounding the testicles), so that “it would be like trying to taste the soy sauce by rubbing it on the outside of the cheek, ”they say in Scienciealert.
So before using soy for another purpose than the ordinary and incurring a totally unnecessary action and, who knows, if dangerous, better ignore viral internet and go to reliable sources. Much more if, in addition, the invaluable action will be communicated to the rest of the virtual world as part of any challenge that involves our own body. .