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In a Google Arts & Culture article, Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà, "Nigerian essayist, writer and food memoirist", states the following:

There are scientific claims that fingers have powerful nerve receptors linked to the digestive system so handling your food releases digestive juices and enzymes that enhances the meal.

Even if those "scientific claims" exist, I still don't see the relationship, but this mainly depends on the nature of the claims so I think first we would need the paper(s) to examine them.

I don't clearly see either how the release of juices an enzymes enhances the meal (it's not even explained what "enhances" means here).

Anyway, the main assertion ("handling your food ... enhances your meal") should be separately tested, juices an enzymes being released or not.

Where this comes from?

  • Is there actually any scientific work that proves the assertion?
  • Is there any scientific work misunderstood or over-stretched by Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà?
  • Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà has a book where "she takes an in-depth look at the wonderful, underestimated art of eating with your fingers in Nigerian food". Is this just a made-up attempt to give scientific ground to her belief that eating with your hands is essentially better?
  • Smell, sight, thought and taste of the food can increase the secretion of saliva and gastric juice (and the related digestive enzymes) ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3940915 . This could be also potentially true for touching food with fingers and if it is, it's basically all the same mechanism: certain things stimulate the brain to secrete more digestive juices. You can also search for cephalic phase of digestion en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalic_phase . – Jan Aug 14 at 10:35
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    OK; I personally am not interested in this from this reason: touching food with fingers surely triggers thoughts about food, which have already been proven to increase secretion of digestive juices. There's nothing more to prove. It doesn't go from fingers directly to stomach, but from fingers via brain to stomach, which is a known thing. I also don't know which keywords could one use in search. – Jan Aug 14 at 13:17
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    @cdlvcdlv I'm not asking a different question. I'm pointing out why I'd be skeptical of the claim "study on Nigerians shows touching food aids digestion". – fredsbend Aug 14 at 17:03
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    Activities can aid digestion, likewise activities can make you sick, all conditioned. That makes this psychology, not biology. – fredsbend Aug 14 at 17:06
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    @fredsbend So we agree: odds are this is all made-up. Receptors are not powerful, to begin with, and receptors in hands aren't different to those from the rest of the body. There's no direct link to digestive system either. But, hey, all this is AFAIK -- that's why I asked if someone knew something related. – cdlvcdlv Aug 14 at 17:32

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