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How our sense of taste changes as we get older


Taste is a complex phenomenon. Instead of experiencing the sensation it produces through one sense (as we do with a mirror, for example), it works through the joint work of the five senses, which allow us to appreciate and enjoy food and drink.

In the first case, Visual inspection we do indicates whether we should consider a particular food intake. Then, when eating, aroma and taste combine so that when the taste, we can grasp the various nuances. In turn, a mixture of ingredients, textures and temperatures can have a greater impact on our taste experience.

Teamwork means that if unfortunately a person loses some of the senses (especially smell or taste) their ability to enjoy food can be affected. Think about the last time you had a cold or stuffy nose. It is likely that the temporary loss of smell changed the way the food is tasted, reduced its appetite and even pushed it to eat more to satisfy itself and satisfy itself.

As we age, similar circumstances occur. LThe way we perceive the flavors begins to change around 60 years, When the sensitivity of the sense of smell begins to decline until reaching 70, then the problem becomes more acute.

As we mentioned earlier, when our feeling The smell loses its effectiveness And it is not able to detect and distinguish different odors, our perception of taste is affected. The degradation of the sense of smell associated with aging is due to several reasons, including a decrease in the number of olfactory receptors (responsible for identifying different molecules with different odors) located in the back of the nasal cavity and the decreasing regeneration of receptor cells.

Another reason why the feeling of deterioration with age lies in Changes in the structure of the taste buds, Some Tough elements containing taste receptors in the mouth, The tongue and the palate.

A kind of papaya, fungiform (Where a large number of taste receptors), Decreases both in quantity and in form (Closed) as we get older. The more open the papillae, the chemicals in the food will be easier to contact the receptors, allowing them to taste. On the contrary, Closed papillae reduce the surface where the receivers and materials can be found, Which leads to a worse perception of the taste of food.

Bad chewing is another one of the factors contributing to the rare appreciation of flavors. Due to aging or poor mouth health, Some people lose their teeth and many of them turn to dentures. However, these can adversely affect the efficiency of chewing and the breakdown of food, especially if they are not properly adjusted.

As a result, it can inhibit the breakdown of saliva components and reduce the association of those with sensory receptors that are taste buds.

also, Excretion of saliva may decrease as a result of aging, Ie, the amount of fluid that leads the food to the recipients is lower and the ingredients do not dissolve easily, so the taste is not completely perceived.

General health also plays an important role in the functioning of our sense of taste at any age.

Head injuries, respiratory infections, cancer, radiation, drug consumption and daily contact with elements such as tobacco and harmful particles can contribute to the erosion of the sense of taste, a condition that may be aggravated by time, as we age and older our exposure to these factors increases.

However, the taste does not diminish for everyone equal. The variations vary according to people and gender, so not everyone shows the same level of deterioration when they reach a certain age.

Although to reach certain situations is inevitable, actions can be taken to at least reduce the loss of taste.

The first steps of our study, for example, indicate that retention A healthy diet, an active lifestyle and low to moderate consumption of the five flavors (sweet, sour, salty, Mary and Omami) can help slow down the taste buds.

Anita Strang & Ed: Senior Lecturer in Food Science and Technology, Cardiff Metropolitan University
Ruth Fairchild: Senior Lecturer in Nutrition, Cardiff Metropolitan University

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