The pleasure of eating is essential to good nutrition. It is a known fact that the sense of taste is related to the sense of smell. As we age, our sense of smell decreases due to a complex set of factors affecting olfactory function. Understanding how to adapt to changes in the taste of food can help ensure that we are well nourished throughout our lives.
Age is not the only culprit when it comes to the loss or decrease in smell. Other causes of loss of smell, including some that are only temporary, include colds, allergies, sinus infections, coronavirus infections, nasal polyps and certain medications as well as serious disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It is very important to talk to your doctor if you experience a sudden or unexplained decrease in your sense of smell.
From the age of 55, the sense of smell may begin to decline. While this decrease was previously believed to generally affect the ability to smell, other research suggests that some smells are more affected than others.
Research published in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that the decline in smell was not generalized, but rather pronounced for some smells more than others. For example, when comparing subjects aged 60 to 98 versus a control group aged 20 to 39, the ability to smell salty or umami foods such as fried meat, mushrooms, and onions increased. weakens with age while the ability to smell orange, raspberry and vanilla has not weakened with age.
While researchers are still trying to better understand age-related changes in smell and taste, it appears that the age-related drop in taste of some flavors may be amplified by a decrease in the salty aspect of the flavor. taste. An age-related impairment in the ability to taste salt, a taste often associated with salty and umami flavors, coupled with a reduced ability to smell these salty foods, may result in a lower overall ability to taste and taste. enjoy these foods as we age.
Here are some tips to help your older loved ones enjoy the dining experience, taking into account potential changes in their sense of smell and taste:
Take into account the temperature of the food
Taste and enjoyment can be enhanced by ensuring that food is served and consumed at the intended temperature. Hot foods tend to have a stronger aroma than foods that are cold or at room temperature. Therefore, hot baked chicken may be tastier than a chicken salad sandwich.
Experiment with seasonings
Try different seasonings to pack recipes with a flavor punch. Stir in herbs, spices, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and mustard among other ingredients to make the food even more delicious. The low sodium ingredients can enhance the taste while keeping the meal on track with the potential needs of a low sodium diet.
Make it a social occasion
Part of the fun of eating is social connection with others. Unfortunately, older people can become socially isolated, making solo dining less enjoyable. Eating meals with others at community meetings, at restaurants, and with friends and family can help improve the quality of the overall dining experience.
Sweet flavors such as fruit seem to stay pretty much intact later in life. Recipes that incorporate sweet flavors and ingredients like orange chicken, honey glazed ham, or tuna salad with apples and dried cranberries may be welcomed by those with a waning sense of smell.
Good nutrition is very important for aging adults, and finding ways to make healthy eating enjoyable and delicious can help promote optimal health and vitality.
LeeAnn Weintraub, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian, providing nutrition counseling and consultation to individuals, families and organizations. She can be contacted by email at RD@halfacup.com.