Umami and Kokumi – A quest for satiation

Burger pic

In my last post I mentioned that on my sugar free diet so far this year, I have found it easy to become full, but I crave total satisfaction on taste. By removing sugar, sweetners of any kind (natural or not), alcohol and white flour, I have struggled to get a ‘hit’ or a ‘high’ of satisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, and you’d be surprised (and probably disappointed), if I said differently, that of course I have been eating some very tasty food. But, in general, I’m left feeling bereft somehow. I’m sure I have used sugar and alcohol etc. as a crutch to hang on to, or to bury other feelings, but I thought maybe this new feeling I’m experiencing, was something I needed to get used to. Maybe I still do.

For a while now I have been investigating the notion and theory of being satisfied (and contented). Is it possible to ever feel completely satisfied? or is it only possible with a ‘hit’ or a ‘high’ for a moment, or brief amount of time until he next one?

I’ve just read ‘The tastemakers’ from The Economist a couple days ago, on the concept of the fifth taste Umami (along with sweet, sour, bitter, salty), a kind of ultimate taste of deliciousness, and the less familiar kokumi which “is as much a feeling as a taste, (taken from the Japanese for ‘rich’ and ‘taste’) and is described variously as “mouthfulness”, “thickness” and “heartiness”. It talks about the uses of umami in helping to stimulate a healthy appetite (especially in the old), to increase weight and health, but it is suggested that the opposite could also be true and “umami signals satiation and helps curb overeating.” and, “if umami does signal satiation, then it might be a useful tool for dieticians.”

But worryingly it also said that “kokumi might be deployed similarly, in order to reduce fat intake.” and “make low-fat foods more palatable”. Do we need to make low-fat foods more palatable? adding more additives in place of what has been taken out?  Surely the evidence suggests now that low-fat is not necessarily a good thing, and that a protein-rich, full-fat, low-carb (which includes reducing sugar) diet with a good amount of veg, is what we should be looking at? Less crap, less messed about with products, and more real, good quality food at affordable prices, is what we need? Isn’t it?

A mass-produced, take-away burger is a good example of umami and kokumi and an ultimate taste sensation. The burger has been produced to tickle all the senses of sweet, sour, bitter, salt, (meat, cheese, ‘special sauce,’ bread, mayo, onion, pickle, salad, fries) which include all the required component textures and additives etc, to make a complete, delicious (“and oh-so-satisfying”???) taste experience. Would a low-fat version be any better for us?……Enough said…..for now….

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