Improving Your Sense of Smell and TasteImproving Your Sense of Smell and Taste: Tips and Techniques

Improving Your Sense of Smell and Taste: Tips and Techniques , Our sense of smell and taste have played a vital role in human evolution. To this day, we rely on these two senses to help us identify appropriate foods to eat and recognize potential dangers such as fires or gas leaks.

Deficiency of these senses can negatively affect our lives. And while preventing the damage or loss of these senses is not always possible, we can often use methods to improve them. Most often related disorders are:

  • Ageusia: Loss of sense of taste.
  • anosmia: Loss of sense of smell.
  • Hyposmia: Decreased sense of smell.
  • Hypogeusia: Decreased ability to taste sweet, sour, salty or bitter substances.

Smell and taste are intertwined

While taste and smell are two different senses, they are inextricably linked. Actually, the smell is responsible for 80 percent of what we taste. The olfactory nerves – located in the nose – and the taste buds on our tongue are used to send messages to the brain. It is there that the information that allows the identification of aromas is obtained.

Head Pastry Chef Rory Macdonald explains integrating aspects of taste and smell into cooking can or enhancement or negative impact culinary and taste experience. According to Macdonald, our interpretation of smell is so influential on taste that if you eat a grilled cheese sandwich at the same time you discover burnt cheese, your sandwich will taste burnt even though it isn’t.

Read more: How our sense of taste develops and adapts

Effect of age on olfaction and taste

These senses usually wake up damaged as people age, with nearly 40 percent of Americans age 80 and older experiencing an impaired sense of smell and 27 percent reporting impaired taste. As we age, our sense of smell the nerves degenerateresulting in a reduced sense of smell in the elderly.

Taste buds are also altered by loss of nerve function, resulting in a less distinct sense of taste. Humans can recognize four tastes – salty, sweet, sour and bitter. Since the taste for salt is one of the first to decline, older people may oversalt their food to compensate for the loss, leading to high blood pressure. Other causes in the older population are tooth loss/wearing dentures and reduced saliva production.

Read more: Why does our sense of taste change as we age?

Impact of certain health conditions

We all know how hard it is to smell or taste normally when we’re sick. The most common are allergies, colds, flu, blocked sinuses and nasal polyps general health problems which diminish these senses. They cause inflammation and swelling, reducing our ability to smell/taste normally.

Several neurodegenerative conditions can be associated with loss of smell and taste, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. Just as the areas of the brain associated with taste/smell can be affected by neurological diseases, brain injury may be another determining factor. This is due to damage to the nerves that are needed to process the signals sent to the brain.

Read more: Your sense of smell is connected to your overall health

How to improve the loss of smell and taste

When there is a decline in the quality of these specific senses, it is not always possible to restore them to their previous functioning levels. However, there are situations where there is potential ways to improve your weakened senses.

  • Keep a journal: Be aware of odors you can recognize. Concentrate on them and then immediately write in your journal – describing as many details as possible. This will help your brain recognize them in the future. Keep a similar taste journal. When you eat, try to feel the different flavors and spices.
  • Use powerful spices/seasonings/herbs: These include garlic, cumin, ginger, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon. The more intense and aromatic they are, the more likely you are to identify them.
  • Serve hot and cold foods together: Contrast can stimulate your taste buds.
  • If you smoke, quit: Pollutants irritate the olfactory receptors, and smoking causes pollutants to be inhaled directly into the respiratory tract. Research shows that smokers who quit report an improvement in their ability to taste and smell.

Read more: Our sense of smell may be more powerful than we think

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