Taste buds do not just signal a good menu. They act as red alerts to mood disorders, nutrient deficiencies, gum disease and toxicity. Loss of taste can herald problems like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, severe malnutrition, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease. It can trigger mismanagement of diet restrictions for those with blood pressure and diabetes or mess with brain’s satiety signal, even depress immunity. In yoga, where every part of the body supports your spiritual, psycho-social and emotional self, a refined sense of taste comes from eating wisely, sensibly and mindfully. It also comes from practices that strengthen nutrient absorption, since certain key nutrients are needed to retain your sense of taste: like good fats, zinc, Vitamins A, B and C.
It’s been found when the brain’s reward center is pampered with tasty food it pays us back by upping production of immune cells. Again, eating tasty food increases saliva, flushing mouths with anti-bodies, aiding digestion. The most insidious fall-out of taste loss is depression, with a lackadaisical attitude towards eating, making us reach for calorie-dense but nutrient-scarce food.
Fortunately, taste loss is not age-related. Taste buds regenerate every ten days. Even the slight loss of taste human beings suffer starts only after 50 years. This loss actually benefits by increasing threshold to bitterness, so we are not as averse to nutrient-dense, bitter foods like dark green or leafy vegetables which we labeled `yuck’ in youth.
Also, when taste loss is caused due to cold, other upper respiratory tract infections like sinusitis, flu, dry mouth, smoking, nutrient-deficiency, gum disease, injury, certain medications, exposure to insecticides, etc, taste is revived once the provocation is removed. Often what we believe to be a taste loss is connected to a loss of smell, since olfaction is crucial for determining gustatory finesse.
The tongue or taste indicator can also act as a nutrient barometer. A swollen, burning or dry tongue warns of vitamin A deficiency. Consulting a professional nutritionist for supplements will help. But nutrients are best accessed through natural foods since overdosing causes toxicity. Vitamin A is found in alfalfa, cabbage, milk, eggs, broccoli, basil, carrot. Similarly, sores and taste loss indicate lack of some or many of the vitamin Bs (found in wheat, oats, peanuts, beans, fruits, meats, milk, etc). A dry mouth could mean vitamin C deficiency, rectified with citrus fruits.
Poses that make the gut youthful by massaging and toning it also help the taste buds indirectly but definitely. Such practices include agnisara kriya (metabolic fire cleansing practice), kapalabhati (skull-cleansing breathing practice), ardhamatsyendrasana (half spinal twist), mayurasana (peacock pose), dhanurasana (bow), salabhasana (locust) are some powerful gut-toning practices.