People who hate the taste of bitter foods like broccoli and Brussels sprouts may be less likely to catch Covid, a new study claims.
“Supertasters” – people with an unusually large number of tastebuds in their mouth – who are sensitive to the flavour of bitter things may be better protected against the bug, doctors have said.
Researchers claim finding foods like grapefruit, wine, spinach, coffee and beer and chocolate overpowering may mean the body is better naturally fighting off viruses that get into airways.
A team of rhinologists – nose experts – in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found that supertasters were 10 times less likely to catch the bug and none of those in the study were hospitalised.
Doctors have now warned that it could work the other way too – people with a weaker sense of taste could be more vulnerable to Covid.
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Dr Alan Hirsch, director at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, said: “If you are unable to taste bitterness, you should be that much more careful.”
The study took 1,935 people from different surgeries and hospitals across the US and carried out taste tests to see where they fell on a spectrum between “non-taster” and “supertaster”.
People with fewer tastebuds were more likely to contract the virus and made up 47 out of 55 hospital admissions from the overall group.
Doctors believe the link between “supertaster” status and a better chance of fighting off the bug can be explained by a special type of receptor in the mouth and throat.
Receptors called T2R38 both gauge bitterness and also release nitric oxide, which can kill viruses, MailOnline reports.
Nitrous oxide also activates cilia – the tiny hairs in the back of a person’s throat that help to push bacteria out of the body.
One of the researchers, Dr Henry Barham, told the website Wine-Searcher: “When these receptors activate, they do several things, including increasing the action of the cilia and increasing mucous production.
“They also produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has been shown to inhibit the spike protein of the virus that causes Covid-19.”