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Why Does Food Taste Bland

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Taste of Food: An Introduction

IVSAT 2024

The taste of food is majorly influenced by two of the sense organs out of five, the nose and tongue. The taste buds are present within the papillae located on the tongue. The gustatory system of the human body is the sensory system that is moderately accountable for the insight of taste. Taste is the acuity that is stimulated when chemical substances present in the food react with the different taste receptors of our oral cavity. These taste receptors then send the signal to the brain, and that is how the sensation of taste occurs.

Why Does Food Taste Bland When You Have A Cold?

The sensation of taste and smell is interrelated. The condition when loss of smell occurs is termed Anosmia, and it is majorly short-term. Smoking or pollution typically affects the mucous membranes of the nose, causing this condition. The taste sensation for food is not only dependent on the tongue but also dependent on the parietal lobe of the brain.

Temperature, movement, and sense of touch are also governed by this region of the brain. When we have a cold and cough, the mucus produced is reported to block the nostrils. This, in turn, causes inflammation and difficulty in breathing. The sense of recognition of a particular smell of food is lost. Thus the activation of taste buds also is affected, which disturbs the property of signal detection of the brain. Hence, the food tastes bland.


Tasteless Tongue

Taste buds are the true sensory organs that are present on the surface of our tongue, and these buds are responsible for the feeling of tastes that are sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Taste receptor cells, or the gustatory cells, are found in the upper surface of the tongue, soft palate, cheek, and epiglottis.

The five types of taste receptors include receptors for salty taste, acidic, bitter, sweet, and umami. Different regions of the tongue are responsible for the detection of these different tastes.

The chemical compounds of the food come in contact with the saliva and then with the taste receptors through tiny openings called taste pores. The seventh, ninth, and tenth cranial nerves are reported to transmit the information from taste receptor cells to the brain. Other neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA help in cell-cell communication in the taste bud and trigger the sensation of taste. The term “ageusia” is used when a person has lost the sensation of taste or has a tasteless tongue. Infections, medications and nutritional deficiencies are reported to be the reasons behind this condition.


Bland Taste

When we have a nasty cold and a congested nose, then also the food may taste dull, flavourless or bland. This condition is called dysgeusia, where the taste of the food may appear unpleasant. It occurs due to certain treatments, medical conditions, flu or due to vitamin or mineral deficiencies. In rare cases, dysgeusia can also indicate underlying liver disease or other serious health conditions.


Reason For Tasteless Tongue

The condition of loss of sensation of taste is known as ageusia. The probable reasons reported for this condition are nasal congestion, allergies, sinus infection, common cold, flu, salivary gland infections, and periodontal disease. The other diseases that can be linked to this condition are diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s disease.


Loss of Taste Due to Cold

When we have a cold with a stuffy nose, the sensations of taste and smell are lost. This condition is called temporary anosmia. When our food is chewed, the food is broken down, and a different aroma is released from the food, which helps in the activation of smell receptors in our nose. When our nose is blocked due to a cold, the sensory cells in our nose are not activated, and the sensation of smell is lost. This, in turn, affects the activation of taste buds and disturbs the property of signal detection of the brain. Hence, we experience a loss of taste.


What To Eat When You Have A Cold?

The foods to eat when we have a cold are-

Vitamin C-rich fruits or citrus fruits. It will not only soothe the sore throat but can also prevent us from catching a cold. Foods such as Kale, broccoli, cranberries, green tea, and red onions contain large amounts of antioxidants, majorly quercetin which helps us to fight the flu. Peppers and ginger are reported to clear nasal congestion and soothe our throats.


Food To Eat During Cold

When we are experiencing common cold symptoms, it is very important to stay hydrated. Foods such as herbal teas are often refreshing and soothe our sore throats. Inhaling the steam often unblocks nasal congestion. Drinks containing hot water and turmeric are very helpful as turmeric is reported to have anti-inflammatory properties. Tea leaves contain polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins; these compounds are reported to boost the immune system and help in germ-fighting. Honey is very effective in treating cold symptoms as it is rich in antimicrobials that help in the clearance of the infection. Citrus fruits and berries contain flavonoids and vitamin C that are reported to decrease inflammation and help in the reduction of fever.


Interesting Facts

When we have a cold, we experience a loss of sensation of taste which is termed ageusia, and this makes our food taste bland.


Key Features of Tasteless Buds During Cold

  • Taste buds are the true sensory organs present on the surface of the tongue. They are responsible for the feeling of taste.

  • When we have a cold and cough, excess mucus is produced, which blocks the nostrils. This causes inflammation and difficulty in breathing. The smell receptors get blocked, and in turn, the cranial nerves are unable to transmit signals to the brain, and thus the taste receptors are affected, which makes the food taste bland.

  • The foods we should take during cold weather are citrus fruits, Kale, broccoli, cranberries, green tea, and red onions. Peppers and ginger are reported to clear nasal congestion. Tea leaves contain polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins that boost the immune system. Honey is very effective in treating cold symptoms due to its antimicrobial property.

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FAQs on Why Does Food Taste Bland

1. What are the functions of the tongue?

The tongue is reported to help in the process of mastication or chewing, speech, taste and secretion of mucus to keep the mouth moist.

2. What is the gustatory system?

The sensory system that is responsible for the perception of taste and flavour is known as the gustatory system. In humans, this system is composed of cranial nerves, taste cells in the mouth which give sensations like salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami and the cortex.

3. How would you rate the flavour of food?

Three distinct stages can be easily distinguished in flavour perception. Smelling the meal before you eat it to analyse its aroma. When the food is in the mouth, the flavour is evaluated. The sensations felt after swallowing a sample are known as the aftertaste assessment.

4. Can food be recognised solely by taste?

It's interesting to note that scent and sight, rather than taste, are the primary senses used to identify food and drink. Food can be recognised just by looking at it; we don't need to consume it to know it is a strawberry.


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