You Asked It!

Tag: Senses

Taste and Smell Affects Eating Well

Photo: USDA Flickr

The ability to taste and smell food brings enjoyment to the eating experience. But as we age, those two senses can change for many reasons.

The human mouth has about 8,000 taste buds! But we lose taste buds over time. A decrease in saliva, medication side-effects, and poor chewing reduces how the flavor of food is sensed.

Your nose directly affects how food tastes. When you have a cold, your sense of smell is diminished and food tastes bland. When you breathe in odors, they dissolve in mucus and move to odor receptors. If odor receptors are damaged by air pollution, cigarette smoke, or viruses and bacteria, they may not be repaired.

If food tastes bland, avoid reaching for the salt shaker or add sugar to improve flavor. This can lead to other health issues such as high blood pressure, increased risks for heart attack and stroke, or even diabetes.

Always consult with a medical professional for any changes in taste or smell. This includes a dental checkup.

Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, December 2019