You know how it is. You are at a seafood restaurant and you take the lemon that you squeeze onto your fish. Then you decide to lick the lemon and then your face scrunches up as you feel some nerves shoot through your face because of the sour taste. You end up squinting your eyes and you also find that you keep your lips smacked together. You laugh about it after and then a part of you regrets doing that. And you will vow to not taste that lemon piece again. However, you may end up doing that anyway in the future because you will not remember this “sour” experience. Why does that happen? Why do your lips pucker when you taste something sour?
There is a simple explanation for that. When you taste lemon, lime, vinegar, or fruit that isn’t yet ripe, your brain knows that you are eating something sour which can signify those sour foods are not always safe. Therefore, your brain sends the signal to your body telling it to ‘be careful’.
How Does That Work?
You do realize that your tongue has thousands and thousands of tastebuds. If you look at your tongue and see small lumps, those are your tastebuds. They let you know when you are tasting something sour, bitter, sweet, savory, or salty. Inside of your buds, there are taste cells that appear that there is hair that is microscopic. Your saliva dissolves the food you eat and the tastes immediately go to your brain, which passes down the signal of the type of taste the food you are eating has, or that the drink that you are drinking has. Therefore, when you come into contact with sour food or drink, that is why your lips pucker and the rest of your face scrunches up due to the high acidity levels.
What Is The Puckering Really Due To?
When your lips pucker and the rest of your face scrunches up when you taste something sour, it is an involuntary response. That is because it is your instincts keeping you safe. Therefore, there is a warning sign that if food is sour, it can make you sick, and that is why you have that involuntary reaction. Sour foods can be poisonous which is why your body reacts that way such as unripened fruit which can be hazardous, and spoiled milk. When your face wrinkles up too after tasting something sour, that is also a sign to not eat any more of the food or drink any more of the drink. It is also a social sign if you are around others that when they see you react that way, it is a sign to stay away from the food or drink.
But Lemons Are Safe And So Are Many Other Sour Foods
The thing is, lemon is so high in acidity that it would not be a good idea to eat a whole lemon by yourself as you are going to surely get an upset stomach. However, it is true that lemon for the most part is safe aside from that. Additionally, lemon has some excellent properties such as antioxidants and vitamin C. You could also be enjoying a sour candy and have the same reaction. Your body cannot distinguish between a safe sour food or drink and an unsafe one. Therefore, even if you are biting into something safe and sour, your body will react that way.
What does that mean? If you want to lick a lemon, prepare yourself for your lips to pucker and the rest of your face to scrunch up after. And it will happen again and again! Your body doesn’t know the difference between a safe lemon or safe sour candy and fruit that is not ripe and unsafe to eat.