Q: Do your taste buds change as you get older? Why?
A: Like all the other cells in the body, those special sensory cells that make up the taste buds eventually wear out. As we age, the taste buds begin to disappear from the sides and roof of the mouth, leaving taste buds mostly on our tongue. The remaining taste buds eventually become less sensitive. Smoking and eating scalding liquids can damage them further. Our sense of smell also decreases as we get older, and smell and taste are intimately linked.
You should not ignore a decreased sense of taste. Diminished taste and smell can lead to decreased appetite and poor nutrition because eating may lose some of its appeal. To compensate, people may add extra salt or sugar to their food, which can lead to problems for those who have high blood pressure or diabetes.
Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.