About this Research Topic
Background: Food oral processing is the first step of food digestion and comprises the sequence of transformations that food undergoes inside the mouth, from first bite until swallowing. Oral processing is critical as it plays a role in decisions related to food choices and whether a food gets accepted or rejected. In oral processing, the food structure is first deformed and degraded by the forces applied by the teeth and soft tissues, including the tongue. Following that, the fragments formed upon chewing are mixed with saliva, producing a bolus that can be safely swallowed. During this dynamic and synchronized process the continuous interactions between oral surfaces, saliva and foods, produce the multiple sensations that are processed by humans into sensory perception that, ultimately, favor the absorption of nutrients.
Parameters related to the breakdown of food structure and bolus formation such as the movements of the jaw and orofacial muscles, mastication, saliva secretion and composition, swallowing, and those related to sensory perception, satiation and digestion are all included in the concept of food oral processing. Functionality and anatomy of these complex functions vary with age from infancy through childhood and adulthood to seniority, thus also impacting how food is perceived and appreciated. Therefore, in order to maximize enjoyment and nutrition, we need to understand how oral processing behavior and eating behavior varies and changes through the lifespan.
Goal: It is known that changes in muscles, dentition, bone, soft tissues, and neuromuscular abilities occur throughout our lifespan and can result in modifications of eating behavior. These changes affect oral processing and food perception, with a subsequent impact on food intake, digestion, and nutrient bioavailability. For example, with the development of masticatory behavior, solid foods can be introduced to the diet of young children while the loss of teeth and, consequently, the chewing ability at older ages require changing the diet to products that can be orally processed with less effort. Thus, studies on the specific needs and/or disorders that may occur in each stage of life, such as reflux, hyposalivation, dysphagia, edentulism, among others, are of importance, as well the description of interventions, diet modification and food strategies involving textural and taste enhancement to ensure a safe and adequate oral intake of foods/liquids and to improve nutrition.
How food oral processing varies across the different age groups and influences the individuals' health status is not fully understood, thus representing a challenge for researchers from multidisciplinary fields such as food science, nutrition, physiology, chemistry, dentistry, psychology, bioengineering and many others. Emerging research from oral biology and biochemistry, oral microbiology and sensory sciences, in addition to approaches and technologies in the fields of molecular biology, last generation methods, in silico studies, use of big data and computational modeling, among others, will help to define guidelines for food intake regulation, in addition to developing novel strategies, therapies and products that better suit the needs of specific consumer groups.
Scope: This Research Topic aims to advance better understanding of food oral processing, and its interrelationship and impact on sensory perception, food intake behavior and nutrient absorption throughout lifespan. It will also explore the mechanistic and plausible relationship of oral processing to masticatory behavior, saliva composition, oral microbiota (and its metabolites), and the impact of nutritional and health status.
We welcome subtopics in this Research Topic including (but not limited to):
• Development and changes in food oral processing with age;
• Changes in the preference and food choice through the lifespan;
• Impact of aging on food oral processing and sensory perception of foods;
• Nutritional and health status and oral processing;
• Strategies and therapies to improve food oral processing and nutrition; and
• Development of novel food products for specific consumer groups.
Keywords: Oral Processing, Aging, Food Perception, Food Structure, Nutrition, Eating Behavior, Diet
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.