Your Taste Buds Are Aging, Too


You are born with 9,000 taste buds, which work in tandem with your sense of smell as your sense of taste relies primarily on odors. However, your sense of smell and taste does change as you age. Between the ages of 40 and 50, the number of taste buds decreases, and those that remain begin to shrink, losing mass that is vital to their operation. After age 60, you may begin to lose the ability to distinguish the taste of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter foods. The sense of smell does not begin to fade until after the age of 70, but its decrease exacerbates the loss of taste. The exact cause of these changes is up for debate. However, the actual reason taste and smell decline with age may not be as important as the resulting effects it has on you and your nutritional balance.

For many, losing the senses of taste and smell means diminished appetites. Because saliva production also diminishes with age, you may also experience dry mouth and have difficulty swallowing. This can sometimes mean that eating becomes more of a chore than an enjoyment, possibly leading to malnourishment.

Check the expiration dates on all foods before consuming them, and if a container does not list an expiration date, write the date of purchase on it with a permanent marker. Add spices and seasonings to food to enhance flavor. For example, you can add garlic to mashed potatoes or marinate your favorite meat.