Life can be bitter or sour, but if it's sweet you may just live longer, a new study suggests. Yes, your sweet (or salt) tooth could provide insight as to how long you'll live.
"It turns out that taste buds are doing more than we think," study author Scott Pletcher of the University of Michigan said in a statement. A research collaboration published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered an interesting link between the sense of taste in fruit flies and their lifespan.
Bitter tastes were found to correlate with negative effects in lifespan while sweet tastes had a positive effect -- which might not surprise you. However, the ability to taste water had a striking effect. Fruit flies that weren't able to taste water lived a whopping 43 percent longer than flies who could taste it.
Researchers say the increase in life expectancy could have to do with a simple adaptation within the body. Loss of taste could be causing the body to overcompensate for what it perceives to be an inadequate nutrient intake. The findings suggest that the body might be more likely to store fat in flies that can't taste water, meaning the fat stores produce their own water internally.
"This brings us further understanding about how sensory perception affects health... We know they're able to help us avoid or be attracted to certain foods, but in fruit flies, it appears that taste may also have a very profound effect on the physiological state and healthy aging," Pletcher said.
Fruit flies are commonly used in aging research, as their genetic makeup is similar to humans. They've proven especially helpful in dementia research that is making strides in understanding the changes to our genetics as we age. Another recent fruit fly study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found certain proteins can help age-related declines in sleep.
Researchers say the findings give us a better understanding of how our senses can affect our health and longevity.