Skip to content

Living Well in Yalobusha County

Taste And Aging: Keep The Flavor In Your Eating Pattern
One often overlooked effect of aging is a decrease in your senses of smell and taste. This can lead to diminished appetite and weight loss, malnutrition, impaired immunity, and worsening health.

Sense of taste and aging: 

After age 50, we start to lose some of the over 10,000 taste buds that we’re born with. While changes in taste buds contribute to decreased sense of taste, it’s actually the decreases in olfactory function, or sense of smell, that play the most important role in taste. It’s been reported that 75% of people over age 80 have major olfactory impairment. 

How we taste foods:

There are five basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami, or savory. Umami is the taste of glutamate, an amino acid found in protein-containing foods including chicken, cheese, nuts, and meat. Glutamate taste is often described as brothy, full-bodied, meaty, and savory. Glutamate is added to foods in the form of MSG, or monosodium glutamate, which breaks down into its component parts, sodium and glutamate. Chewing food releases molecules into the mouth that flow up the back of the throat to the nose to stimulate smell receptors. The five tastes combine with texture, spiciness, temperature of food, and aroma to produce flavor. It’s the total combination of the basic tastes and other senses that allow us to distinguish food flavors. 

Possible causes of decreased sense of taste:

Elderly people often have several chronic diseases and routinely take multiple medications, which leads to an increased risk of taste disorders. Many medications affect taste, smell, or the production of saliva, which can lead to changes in food preferences and eating habits. 

Other potential causes of or contributors to loss of taste include poor oral hygiene, radiation treatment to the head or neck, head or facial trauma, smoking, and nutrient deficiencies, including a lack of zinc, copper, B12, or niacin. 

Decreased taste can lead to health problems:

Some people eat less because of this loss of taste and subsequent decreased enjoyment of food, which in turn can lead to undesired weight loss and inadequate nutrition. Others try to compensate by adding salt or sugar to food to increase its flavor. Adding more sugar can lead to weight gain or an increased risk of chronic disease or even poor management of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Adding more salt can contribute to higher blood pressure levels. 

Improve the taste of foods in a healthful way:

Use a variety of fresh or dried herbs, or salt-free herb blends, to flavor foods without adding salt. You can also include flavorful hot peppers in recipes, or sprinkle hot sauce on foods like chicken, fish, or eggs for a burst of flavor. Add some spice or vinegars to marinades too. Or try roasting cut-up vegetables in the oven to bring out a naturally sweet, more intense taste. And as a last flavor boost, squeeze lemon or lime juice on vegetables, fish, and chicken before serving them

Article Source:

MSU Extension Service

Save The Date

The Extension Office will be closed on Friday, March 30th for Easter Holidays.  We will reopen on Monday, April 2 at 8 a.m.

Healthy You exercise will not meet the week of March 26-30.  We will resume exercise classes on Monday, April 2 at 9 a.m. Classes are held each Monday and Wednesday at 9 a.m. and Healthy You Yoga is held on Fridays at 9 a.m. 

Sewing for Service will meet on Monday, April 2 at 10 a.m.  Participants are currently working on pillowcase dresses.  All supplies and sewing machines are supplied, we just need volunteers to help sew. The dresses will be sent in Operation Christmas Child Boxes.

The Looped with Love Crochet MHV Club will meet on Thursday, April 5th at 10 a.m.  The meeting is free and new members are welcome.

The Create Club will meet on Tuesday, April 10, at 9 a.m.  The project will be a cross canvas and the project leader is Jo Davis.  All supplies will be provided for a cost of $4.  Please call the Extension office to reserve your place by Thursday, April 5.

Join Pamela Redwine at the Extension Office on Monday, April 16th from 1:30 until 4:00 p.m. for a FREE basic canning class.  During this class we will be learning about the different canning methods and when to use each one as well as the different types of equipment available.  This is also a great time to bring your pressure canner lids to be tested.  Dial Gauge Pressure canner lids should be tested each year before using them.  This class is an informational class only and no canning will be done at this time.  Redwine will begin offering canning classes in May, so stay tuned!  If you need this class offered after 5 p.m. please contact Redwine at the Extension office at 675-2730 or email me at

Leave a Comment