There Is An Actual Reason Seeing Food Makes Your Mouth Water

There's a common thing that happens to all of us when we are preparing food — you know, how when you're making a loaf of bread or a cake, or maybe a crockpot with a roast inside, and then your entire house smells just divine, and you suddenly find yourself salivating? As it turns out, there's actual science behind it. To start to understand this phenomenon, it should be pointed out that saliva is composed of 99.5% water and 0.5% proteins, lipids, and enzymes that help keep our mouths clean, as well as taste and chew food, and then digest it, according to The American Chemical Society, in a video posted by Reactions on YouTube

In fact, we produce, on average, about 30 liters of saliva a day to help these processes, which is a ton of saliva, but it makes sense when you figure how many different tasks this enzymatic blend is helping us to accomplish. So, it also makes sense that we would produce extra saliva when we're eating, as we need it to help us turn the food into something digestible. But the question still remains: Why is it that some of us salivate when we're merely thinking about food?

When we think of food we want to eat, our mouths literally water

According to Cosmos Magazine, salivating while thinking about food is all an involuntary reflex. "The nerves that control saliva production are part of a reflex system. They fire without conscious thought and can be activated by smells, tastes, and even the movement of jaw muscles," says the article. That means when we see, smell, or think about food, our brain reflexively sends signals to the body that we're in need of extra saliva for the food it thinks we're about to eat. The neurotransmitters released by the brain initiate our nerve signals, telling our saliva glands to start producing spit. 

Mental Floss adds, "There are two types of saliva: mucous and serous," and while mucous saliva is exactly what it sounds like (thick, mucousy, and sticky), serous saliva is almost entirely water, and that's what floods into our mouths when we're about to eat. Suddenly the term "mouth-watering" seems much more apt! So, the next time you find yourself daydreaming about something delicious you can't wait to eat, you'll know why it is that you find your mouth literally watering!