TasteBuds--5 Tips for Improving Your
Sense of Taste

Continued from page 1

How to Improve Your Taste Bud Sensitivity

Are there things you can do to improve your Sense of taste?  

A few studies suggest that the answer is "yes". One study in
2003 by the Tokyo Medical and Dental University found that
mild brushing of the tongue improved  taste sensitivity.  
Rinsing with mouthwash did not.

Other studies such as one conducted in 2006 by the
of Bristol in the United Kingdom have found that depressed
people lose their sense of taste. But taking anti-depressants
seems to restore both the taste sensitivity for sweet and for

The British team discovered that participants were more
sensitive to sweet flavours if they took an antidepressant
tablet that increases levels of the brain chemical serotonin
(paroxetine); and more sensitive to sour flavours if the pill
they took acts by increasing the levels of brain chemical
noradrenalin (reboxetine).

Those on paroxetine picked up on sweet tastes at 27% lower
concentrations than before treatment. Previous studies have
shown that serotonin helps sweet taste receptor cells transmit
signals, Donaldson says.

Reboxetine allowed participants to detect sour tastes at 22%
lower concentrations than before treatment. Noradrenalin
could help sour taste receptor cells on the tongue send signals,
Donaldson speculates.

What if you could not taste anything? Things like medications,
smoking, not getting enough of the right vitamins, injury to
the head, brain tumors, chemical exposure, and the effects of
radiation can cause taste disorders.

Smell and Taste Are Partners

Most of what we perceive as "taste" are actually smells. Smell
receptors are far more sensitive than taste buds. We "taste" a
steak by smelling it first, and then, the taste buds on the
tongue confirm that, yeah, that is good.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the senses of
taste and smell interact closely, helping you appreciate food.
Most taste really comes from odors. The sense of smell begins
at nerve receptors high in the membranes of the nose.

As you age, your mouth produces less saliva. This causes dry
mouth, which can make swallowing more difficult, and can
diminish your ability to taste. It also makes digestion slightly
less efficient and can increase dental problems.

The sense of smell may diminish, especially after age 70. This
may be related to loss of nerve endings in the nose.

Studies about the cause of decreased sense of taste and smell
with aging have conflicting results. Some studies have
indicated that normal aging by itself produces very little
change in taste and smell. Rather, changes may be related to
diseases, smoking, and environmental exposures over a

5 Tips for Improving Your Sense of Taste

Here are 5 things you can do to improve your sense of taste.

1. Brush Your Tongue. Mild, very mild, brushing of the tongue
improves your ability to taste.

2. Toss the Cigarettes. Tobacco kills off the ability of your taste
buds to detect most taste.

3. Spice It Up. Some studies suggest that adding spices --a
variety of them --to your food will improve your sense of taste.

4. Watch the Meds. Some medicines, such as anti-dperessants,
actually improve your sense of taste. But others can dull your
sense of taste.

5.  Follow Your Nose.  As we have seen, most "taste" comes
from smell. So, avoid foods and medicines that leave you
congested. Dairy products --milk, cheese, eggs-- cause
congestion in many people, as do allergic reactions.   

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