As you age, your body goes through a lot of changes. Knees might become creakier, your face wrinkles and grey hairs start to come in. For many people, palates also change. This is because your tastebuds evolve, causing your palate to change over time.
Read on to learn more about why it happens and how it affects your nutritional choices.
Understanding how your tastebuds change helps you understand how your palate changes over time. It explains why you hated broccoli as a child but can’t seem to do without it now.
Your tastebuds are the little bumps you see on your tongue when you stick it out. They are responsible for perceiving if food is sweet, salty, bitter umami or savory. Every couple of weeks, some of your tastebuds die and regenerate. With time, however, they stop regenerating and die off.
Not to worry, the average adult has 2,000 to 4,000 tastebuds, so you’re left with plenty when some die off. Fun fact there are also tastebuds on the roof of your mouth and in the back of your throat.
The number of tastebuds on your tongue decreases as you age. The decline typically begins in your 40s if you are a woman and in your 50s if you are a man. The tastebuds left behind also start to change. They shrink, affecting how much we enjoy salty or sweet foods. With time it also affects the way you perceive bitter foods.
Learning that your tastebuds die off as you age might seem alarming, but it’s why you enjoy so many foods you won’t have touched with a ten-foot pole as a kid. Foods like olives, goat cheese, pickles and broccoli appeal more to your palate as an adult because your tastebuds have changed. These foods can feel overwhelming for children whose tastebuds are much more sensitive than an adult’s.
Your tastebuds evolving opens up your palate to a world of food options from all over the world. When cooking, you can try your hands at everything from Indian cuisine to Thai cuisine and appreciate all the rich textures and flavors, because your tastebuds can handle and appreciate more complex flavors and textures.
For people whose palates haven’t changed a lot since they were kids, it might be a little confusing reading about how your palate is bound to change as you age. If you still don’t find healthy and nutritious foods enjoyable, there are many ways to take matters into your hands and change your palate. Like many other habits, you can change your eating habits. The top tips to help you retrain your palate to love healthy foods are:
In older adults, continually losing tastebuds can affect how much you enjoy food. Foods you may have enjoyed for years might start to feel bland. However, you don’t have to allow a change in your palate to affect how much you enjoy food. Try your hands at cooking new recipes that excite you. Use new techniques on old recipes to give them a fun twist.
Playing around with colors and textures also makes your food look, feel and taste more interesting. Stimulate your tastebuds by trying out spices you won’t typically use. Think about the foods you may not have enjoyed when you are younger and try them now. After trying it once at fifteen, you might have decided never to touch a pickle again. Why don’t you try a pickle now and see how you like it?
So while your tastebuds might not regenerate as quickly as when younger, the good news is that this allows you to expand your palate. You are open to a world of new possibilities for your nutrition and building healthy eating habits.
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