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.
- genetic taster status
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering