Food oral processing is the first stage of human digestion. It is in this moment that a bolus suitable to swallow is formed. At the same time, food particles produce stimuli that are detected via different sensory receptors, these signals are integrated in the brain resulting in sensory evaluation of food. Although eating is part of our daily routine, it is still far from being fully understood.
In addition to physical characteristics of food, inter-individual variations like age, sex, ethnicity and physiology affect the way that people process the food in the mouth. Oral processing of food requires little effort in healthy subjects, but it may represent a real challenge for elderly and people with decreased eating capability. Consequently, sensory perception of attributes in similar food products may vary among different consumer groups.
The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of age, ethnicity and eating capability on bolus properties and oral processing behaviour of commercial food differing in physical properties. Knowledge in this area would benefit the formulation and development of products targeting specific consumer groups.
Research topics and experimental techniques:
- Characterization of oral processing behaviour (video recordings, EMG)
- Bolus properties (rheology, particle analyses, microscopy, saliva incorporation)
- Dynamic and hedonic sensory perception (TDS, nine-point hedonic scale)