Aging and Your Sense of Smell

As we age, we may experience some problems that affect the body and mind, including a change in our sensory perceptions. Our sense of smell may affect how we eat, enjoy food and drink and also affect the type of nutrients we put in our bodies. Depending on how severe the loss of smell is, it could actually be dangerous if it means we don’t smell hazardous chemicals, gas leaks and smoke.

Our sense of taste is also affected by our sense of smell. If you eat something while holding your nose, you might taste salt, bitterness or sweetness, but you won’t taste the robust flavor of what you’re eating. The sensory perception that affects our sense of smell is call olfaction and this is what weakens when you age.

The fact that you lose sense of taste as you lose sense of smell is especially problematic for seniors. It could result in lack of appetite or of eating foods that aren’t good for you just to try and taste them. Think about how fresh bread baking makes your salivate and then think about how it would be if you couldn’t smell it. Your enthusiasm for eating would certainly wane.

Anyone who needs to control his or her diet may be greatly affected by sense of smell. If the olfactory system quits working or weakens, it’s more difficult to control and stick to a nutritious diet plan and a greater risk of chronic diseases is possible. You might eat less fruits and vegetables because they only seem to taste bitter rather than producing the same great taste they used to have.

Some seniors eat a lot of sweets and food that contain a high volume of fat because they can taste them and tend to eat more than those without a sense of smell problem. These seniors may become overweight or obese and become even more susceptible to dangerous or deadly diseases.

Surprisingly, when you chew food, the flavor of it is recognized in the olfactory bulb that rests behind the bridge of the nose. Seniors who have gum disease or other problems with teeth and gums may not chew as heartily and much of the taste disappears because the flavor never reaches the olfactory bulb.

Sinus problems and blockages of the nasal passages can also interfere with the olfactory bulb and your ability to perceive the taste of foods and your sense of smell. These disorders are often found among seniors and the results may damage certain receptors which can lead to diet problems and eventually, immunity problems.

Cancer patients, especially those who have had chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery could possible go through a cycle of damaged sense of smell and a reluctance to eat a proper diet because of lack of appetite or damaged sense of taste.

Research has found that spices and herbs don’t help with the taste of foods when a person loses their sense of smell. There’s no way to restore olfaction, but you can balance the problem by choosing natural sweeteners, powerful herbs and spices and by taking vitamin and mineral supplements.