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How to take care of your taste buds

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to the numerous problems associated with loss of taste and smell, a signature symptom of the illness, and highlighted just how essential these senses are to our lives. And while regaining taste and smell after illness can take time, and sometimes special exercises, it is possible to pamper our taste buds on a regular basis so that they offer us optimal sensations during our meals on an everyday basis. Taking care of your taste buds is an actual thing.

Apples and oranges

Get your fill of fruits and vegetables, preferably seasonal ones, in order to ingest a maximum of antioxidants and B vitamins. According to Prof. Sven Saussez, ENT doctor, who shared his tips with insurance firm Macif to help policyholders in case of loss of smell and/or taste, fruits and vegetables allow for a better nervous recovery of the taste buds and are key for rehabilitating the sense of smell.

Make a dental appointment

Oral health is essential to avoid infections and keep your mouth healthy. A report from Switzerland-based FDI World Dentist Federation published in March noted that many dentists around the world are seeing the fallout from people avoiding the dentist even when deemed safe to go, which can result in serious problems.

Although rare, inflammation of the tongue or papillae is a real condition. It is called glossitis. Causes include a fungus or irritation from braces or dentures. In any case, brushing your teeth is imperative two to three times a day to maintain good bacteria in the mouth and reduce bad bacteria.

Eat a balanced diet

We all know how important it is to eat a balanced diet with the right proportions of protein, carbohydrates, fats as well as little treats to maintain a healthy weight and have ample energy. What you may not know though is that this recommendation also has an impact on your taste buds, and on your ability to detect flavors, especially sweetness. A study from the University of Bangor in Wales showed that drinking too many sugary drinks prevents you from detecting sweet tastes.

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Give your palate,  or rather your brain, a workout

“The mechanism of taste starts on the tongue, where thousands of taste buds are concentrated in papillae…. Taste buds are also located on the roof of the mouth and in the throat. Each taste bud includes about 50 to 100 specialized cells that contain taste receptors….Information from the chemical stimulus within taste cells is translated into an electrical message that is relayed by taste nerves to the brain stem, where initial taste processing takes place. From there, impulses are relayed to other parts of the brain,” outlines Food Technology Magazine.

In the same 2016 article expert Robin Dando of Cornell University emphasizes: “A taste for sweet in the natural world is a signal that there are calories there. And in the past environment, until recent history, calories were a very good thing. You don’t survive without calories. The more that you could detect them and consume them, the better for you.”

Indeed recent scientific research indicates that the brain is key in tasting and that the perceived flavor of a food stems from an interaction of taste and smell.

Olfactory stimulation is therefore essential for building up a repertoire of tastes and smells. This is why people suffering from COVID-19 and anosmia (loss of smell) are encouraged to train their olfactory memory by smelling essential oils several times a day.

The goal: to reconnect smells to words. We can preserve our sensory acuity by identifying all the smells that surround us, from those of the kitchen to those of the street, whether they are sweet to our nostrils or repulsive. JB


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