7 Things That Can Affect Your Sense of Taste
Your taste buds are little bulbous nerve endings that are found throughout your mouth and your tongue. Your taste buds help you to taste the different flavors of the foods and beverages that you eat or drink. In collaboration with your olfactory receptors, the little sensory organs communicate with your brain flavors, like if foods are salty, sweet, sour, bitter or savory. They are very tiny but are visible on your tongue if you look in the mirror. They can be especially visible if you have scalded your tongue from a hot beverage! Taste buds getting scalded by hot foods is just one way that your taste buds can become damaged or impaired. Taste buds can impact your interest in eating certain types and flavors of foods, as well as impacting your sense of satiety. Luckily, your body will develop new taste buds between 2-10 days.
Here are some things that can affect your taste buds and sense of taste.
1. Babies get exposed to their first flavors in the womb. Babies are also exposed to flavors of food in the mom’s diet through breastmilk, this is a way that babies get their first exposure to flavors, like hot spices or garlic. First foods for babies and toddlers are thought to impact their taste preferences throughout their life.
2. If you are sick with a runny nose and a cold, this can impact your sense of taste because, without the connection to the olfactory receptors, you will notice that your food seems to not be as flavorful.
3. Smoking can be very detrimental to your health and to your taste buds. If you are a long-term smoker, there may be some serious damage to your ability to taste the flavors in food.
4. Your past memories can also connect with your brain to provide you the expectation of what the flavors will be for different foods. You might even notice that scents can trigger saliva production prior to even eating the food!
5. Certain medications can also impact your sense of taste, so if you have recently noticed flavors in food changing or lessening and you just started a new medication, it might be the cause!
6. Some diseases or deficiencies can also impair your ability to taste flavors in foods. Deficiencies in essential nutrients like zinc and vitamin B12 or some autoimmune diseases can have a serious impact on senses, including your sense of taste. Injuries to your brain, nose, or ears can also impact your senses.
7. Temperatures of foods and beverages can also change how you taste them, especially if they are too hot or cold and cause inflammation or damage to your taste buds.