Age does many things to our bodies.
Things begin to slow down a bit as we
go through life. That includes our senses of taste and smell.
But why do they
begin to lose their strength?
Cranial nerves in the brain control many functions in the body.
the main job of the olfactory nerve is to control the sense of smell.
When receptors high in the nose smell something,
the data is transferred to the brain
through the nerves where it is interpreted as scents.
The same goes for our sense of taste. Instead of the nose, the receptors for
taste are on the tongue.
There are five distinct tastes we can detect: salty,
sweet, bitter, sour, and hot/spicy.
(yes you will find others but these are the most widely associated with)
When one is detected,
chemical data is sent to the brain and interpreted as one
of the four tastes by the brain.
As the body ages, neural pathways can begin to degenerate. You probably won’t
lose your sense of taste and smell altogether,
but they will likely experience a
Maybe it takes you longer to detect a smell even if it is
familiar. Smelling disorders are more common in older men than in women.
The center in the brain that controls our sense of smell is close to that
which controls our sense of taste.
In fact, if you think that it is your taste
buds that are not doing their job,
chances are it may actually be your sense of
smell that is affected.
Think about it. When you have a cold where your nasal passages are swollen
and congested, it is hard to breathe and also heard to smell.
Without the ability to smell, food seems to taste bland.
We often associate how a food
smells with how it should taste.
Without one sense the other is impaired as well.
Smell is important in life. Smells alert us to dangers such as fires, gas
leaks, burning electrical wires and other things.
It kicks our bodies into high
gear to respond to the threat.
So, finding out why your sense of smell is
decreased is necessary.
Age accounts for some of the loss of these two senses,
but it is not the only reason.
Even if age is taken into account there could be other reasons that
further affect them and make the resulting situation worse.
These other factors
that diminish both include colds, smoking, sinus problems,
stroke, surgery, head
trauma and diabetes as an example.
How to Improve Our Sense of Smell and Taste
Gaining better control of these senses takes focused practice.
How many times have you seen something and remembered
how it smelled or tasted instead of
actually experiencing the sensation? This is not active smelling or tasting,
and can make those receptors lazy.
There are many ways that you can help to reduce
problems with these senses.
* Practice smelling and tasting – When you smell something, take the time to
deeply smell it and take in all of its nuances. The same goes for taste. Savor
your food on your tongue and experience the
dominant flavor and the subtle
undertones as well.
* Learn to associate smells with emotions – How does a flower make you feel?
Maybe it reminds you of a spring day.
Music has the ability to alter our
emotional state and so can smell.
This exercise forces you to concentrate on the
smell instead of taking for granted that
one flower smells much like all the others.
* Relearn familiar smells – Let’s say that you have a wood-burning stove in
your home. You’ve smelled it a thousand times so you have developed a type of
immunity to it. Take the time to notice the smell again and note what you like
about it. Familiar smells are the ones that we least want to forget and they are
the ones that we often neglect. Take short sniffs instead of one long one.
* Avoid unsavory smells – Strong odors that smell bad can
affect your sense of smell.
* Eat foods high in zinc – This mineral is supposed to help improve smell.
Foods that contain zinc include pecans and oysters.
* Stop smoking – Cigarette smoke can impair your smell.
Getting away from the
smoke can restore freer breathing and
help you notice other smells around you.
* Smell your food – Your sense of smell will help with your sense of taste.
If it smells pleasant, you will salivate in anticipation of the meal.
Smell and taste are so closely related that the absence
of one affects the other.
Sharpening both senses through usage can make then sharper than ever.
(I love this picture it fits so many ideas I have, but I don't know who took it :( I would love to give them credit)