Taste buds

Monek Marie
Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

I have read as you get older you taste buds sometimes don't respond like they used to and that is why a lot of elderly people lose interest in eating.

My mother has told me for years that she just doesn't have an interest in eating any more or that is doesn't taste as good as it used to. I have been telling her, especially now, that we have to have a healthy diet. I know you can add nutrition drinks to a meal plan but is there a way to stimulate taste bugs?


  • Jens the Beekeeper
    Jens the Beekeeper Posts: 643 admin

    Have you tried fermented food? I always have the feeling that it refreshes my taste.

    Going light on salt for a while and adding lots of herbs also makes the taste buds somewhat more sensitive.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,505 admin

    @Denise Grant Because your mum has been on medications and supplemental oxygen, that might have contributed to her lack of taste. Once she is off that for awhile, her taste might improve. If she has dry mouth (sometimes because of both previous reasons), rinsing your mouth before eating can help.

    Elimination of any processed foods that have artificial flavours will help. But I'm pretty sure you eat a healthy diet anyhow.

    Not everyone likes hot spice (cayenne, hot peppers, etc.) but adding it to your diet in small increments can help stimulate taste and improve circulation. I'm sure she must need that after laying in a hospital bed for so long.

    Bitters might help stimulate digestion to the point that she is more hungry.

    Taste isn't all about the actual taste buds. Aromas can stimulate taste as well as the digestive processes. So add in some highly aromatic foods to the diet. And lots of colour and interest on the plate to stimulate appetite visually.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,411 admin

    @torey I agree to what you say about eliminating food with artificial taste enhancers, flavours. When we did change to a healthy diet, at first our food was very boring. Then, slowly, the body cleaned itself from all the artificial taste and now the natural food is tasteful.

    @Denise Grant I think that taste changes throughout the life. I have read that older people start liking bitter food. Young ones cannot stand it. When young, one likes certain food and hates another. And then it might change completely. As long as your mother eats, it’s fine. It is fine, when one enjoys food, but food does not have to be an entertainment or pleasure. Food is to give us energy, keep us alive and healthy. There are also many other pleasures in life apart from enjoying food. I am sure, your mother will find her ways of being happy.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,354 admin
    edited May 2021

    Taste and smell are essentially two sides of the same coin. If you can't smell, you can't really taste. Sniffing rosemary before a meal may enhance both, and wake up the receptors in the brain, stimulating food memory. Bitters may help, as well. Perhaps, a few dashes of angostura in some soda water, with a twist of lemon, or even just chewing a couple of juniper berries. If she can drink alcohol, vermouth makes a wonderful, appetite stimulating aperitif. When my grandmother was nearing the end and had no appetite, They had been giving her mostly Ensure and Pedialyte... cloyingly sweet, so of course she had no appetite. I took over the cooking. Along with her favorite foods, I would introduce salads with herbs and bitter flavors. We found that she loved home made Caesar dressing with chef salads - a total surprise to everyone, since she had never had such. She already loved collards, mustard and turnip greens with vinegar. I got her some salted peanuts, pickles, olives and kraut. Basically, anything that wasn't sweet! I also slipped a little wine or liquor in where I could, to make meals more enjoyable. That is also when I began to learn the power of parsley to enhance flavors. Soon, she was eating regular, good sized meals again... probably added a couple of years to her life... enough to give her a chance to teach me her recipes! I also found that it is very important to smell good food being cooked to stimulate appetite - that is a huge mistake they make in nursing homes... sweet, bland food delivered in a covered tray... no aroma!

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,354 admin
    edited May 2021

    Oh, and when we were out and she got hungry, I'd get her a sub/Italian sandwich. Every time, she would say, "I wish I had known about this all along.. it is a full meal! You have your bread, meat and salad, with cheese, all together!" It was usually just a simple turkey sub, with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, swiss, oil and vinegar, some herbs and parm, salt and pepper sprinkled on - she LOVED it! For a while, at least, we were able to get her walking and involved and off the laxatives. My mom cooked for her the same way, of course. When anyone else was in charge, we'd get the call, "She won't eat. She just sleeps. She hasn't been to the bathroom in days. She isn't making sense and she is so weak she can't walk." Well, what did they expect? "She won't eat breakfast."... did they ever think she didn't want sweet instant oatmeal? I fried bacon and served it with garden fresh tomatoes... she couldn't wait to get to the table once she smelled that bacon! She also wanted a cup of very hot, strong coffee, and they thought she should have instant decaf. Nope, that won't work. I don't know why people think they should feed old people like babies!

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,839 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Part of it may be that taste likes and dislikes change as we get older. My dad who is 88 says that things he used to like no longer tastes as good or it tastes off so he is having to find new recipes or we have also worked on changing the spices in some of his favorite recipes.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Lisa K I have read the taste buds cahnge with age and that makes sense.

    I'll just have to try and shake up recipes and add a few new

  • frogvalley
    frogvalley Posts: 675 ✭✭✭✭

    I just found this an hour after posting about my loss of smell. Strange.

    I'm trying D3. I have no idea if it might help with taste.

    My MIL said the only thing she could taste was sugar/sweet so lived on a diet of coke, candy, cake and cookies before we brought her to our house to live. She was mildly diabetic when she started living with us and we eat very little sugar if any, so she would much rather have moved into a doughnut factory. She had to endure life with health nuts instead. In the two years she was with us before she lived in a care facility, she overcame the diabetes and cancer. They had to lock the refrigerator in the facility the first week she was there as she used to go in, scoop and eat up the pudding ......... with her hands.

    She lived for decades unable to taste anything but sugar. Happy as a clam!