This One Mineral Can Help You Taste Your Food Better
Deficiencies are responsible for most symptoms we experience as we age. Knowing your deficiencies are diet-related may give you some hope of reversing them, so you can enjoy your food again.
Some people experience a loss of taste perception, also called ageusia [ah-GYOO-zee-a. They have dulled taste buds that fail to pick up the subtle flavors of the foods that they eat. More commonly, people with dulled taste buds can experience loss of smell instead of a loss of taste. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
- Approximately 25 percent of Americans are non-tasters, 50 percent are medium tasters, and 25 percent are "supertasters."
- More than 200,000 people visit a physician for chemosensory problems such as taste disorders each year, while many more taste disorders go unreported.
- Some people are surprised to learn that flavors are recognized mainly through the sense of smell. If you hold your nose while eating chocolate, for example, you will have trouble identifying the chocolate flavor—even though you can distinguish the food's sweetness or bitterness. That is because the distinguishing characteristic of chocolate (what differentiates it from caramel, for example) is sensed largely by its odor.
- Taste cells (along with smell cells) are the only sensory cells that are regularly replaced throughout a person's lifespan. Taste cells usually last about 10 days before they are replaced.
What is even more interesting is the cause of your taste perception loss. Loss of taste perception is a sign of mineral deficiency caused by diet. The mineral you are deficient in is zinc.
A study published in the journal Biofactors was designed to clarify the effect of zinc deficiency on salt preference, the lingual trigeminal and taste nerves transduction, and taste perception activity, or carbonic anhydrase activity, of the tongue surface and salivary gland.
In the study, 4-week old male rats were divided into four groups, and fed zinc-deficient, low-zinc, and zinc-sufficient diets. After taking part in the preference tests for 42 days, the rats were provided for the taste and lingual trigeminal nerve recordings, then, sacrificed for the tongue and salivary gland to measure taste perception activity.
The researchers found that the preference for salt increased after only 4 days of the feeding of zinc-deficient and low-zinc diets, which means that the taste abnormality appears abruptly in zinc deficiency and even in marginal zinc deficiency.
Reduced carbonic anhydrase activities of the taste-related tissues in zinc-deficient group paralleled with the decreased taste and lingual trigeminal nerves sensitivities as well.
Zinc Deficiency Causes Loss Of Taste
In reality, we are all deficient in zinc because there simply isn’t enough of this mineral in the diet. Unless you are eating significant amounts of zinc-rich plant-based foods such as apricots, red cherries, and pumpkin seeds daily, you’d be hard-pressed to find adequate amounts of zinc in the food supply, or even in the soil, these foods are grown in. The extinction of zinc in the diet is due to the pollution and pesticides we encounter every day. The more of these toxins that are used, the more zinc we lose. Therefore, the fruits and vegetables we grow for food no longer contain this essential mineral.
Benefits Of Improved Taste Perception
There are many benefits to having well-working taste buds. One is closely tied-in with weight control. When you are not able to taste your food, you tend to consume more of it although you enjoy it less. Conversely, when you are able to taste and savor your food, you tend to eat more slowly, fill up faster and maintain a healthy weight. You also tend to enjoy the subtle sweetness of fruit and reach for foods that are lower in salt.
Jack-up Your Taste Buds With Zinc
Increasing the amount of zinc in your diet is vital for overall health as well as improving the perception of taste. Zinc wears many hats -- it is a powerful immune booster that protects you from colds and flu as well as enhancing dulled senses such as taste perception, hearing, and smell. Eating more plant-based zinc-containing foods as well as supplementing with a quality ionic zinc concentrate daily, will help you to regain your perception of taste, maintain your health and savor healthier foods that once were tasteless to you.
— Wellesley Medical (@wellesleymd) February 3, 2013
— Lauren C Kelly (@LaurenKellyRD) January 17, 2013
— Dr. Shannon ND (@DrShannonND) November 22, 2014