Aging Taste Buds

22 September, 2012

If those pretzels don't seem as salty as they used to, and the sweet-and-sour pork isn't so sweet or sour, your taste buds might be to blame.
As you get older, you can start to lose more and more of those little onion-shaped structures that tell you what you're eating.

Budding No More

Taste buds reside primarily on your tongue but can also be found on the roof of your mouth. The average person is born with about 10,000 taste buds, but by the time he or she reaches retirement years, only about 5,000 may be left. People regenerate new taste buds every 3 to 10 days, but the buds renew at a slower rate as we age. What does all this mean? Read labels -- don't rely so much on your taste buds -- to figure out if you're getting too much salt or sugar. Learn which foods are most likely to trick your taste buds into overeating.

The Nose Knows

Actually, what one thinks of as loss of taste may actually be loss of smell. Researchers say that three-quarters of how we taste food comes from how we smell it, and smell can diminish with age, too.

Better with Age

Losing your hearing? Having trouble seeing? Feeling forgetful? Learn how to fight these and other facts of aging with these tools and tips.

SOURCES: YOU: On a Diet. Roizen, M. F., Oz, M. C., New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.

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