10 Surprising Things That Affect Your Sense of Taste

4 min read
sense of taste

How we perceive or appreciate different food depends on many factors. Anything from where we live, where we grew up, our culture, socialization and our genetics can be a factor.

We also must consider those who have special health needs, preferences and expectations. There are specific diets for diabetics,  glucose intolerance, vegans, etc.

Some people will not dare eat foods that are not gluten-free for fear of adverse reactions. These might be alternative diets, but they too need to be pleasant to the taste buds.

The foods people eat every day go through rigorous scientific testing to produce that unique taste to satisfy various niche markets.

Singapore, China and India focus on developing flavors popular to that region. The US and Europe do the same while prioritizing flavors for their regions.

Let’s check out some things that affect our taste preferences!

10. Tasting From the Womb

womb tasting food

The various tastes and flavors a child or even an adult prefer might have started in the womb.

“Things like vanilla, carrot, garlic, anise, mint — these are some of the flavors that have been shown to be transmitted to amniotic fluid or mother’s milk,” says Julie Mennella, who studies infants taste at the Monell Chemical Senses Center.

According to Mennella, there actually is not a single flavor that they haven’t found in the womb.

Memories of these flavors can form even before birth. So, if you’re mother ate broccoli when she was pregnant with you, you may be a huge fan of broccoli now.

9. The Culture Taste

culture food

Cultural influences take the top spot when it comes to taste preferences and experiences. What you grew up eating from your parent’s kitchen will influence your taste wherever you go.

This phenomenon caused Abbott to launch a PediaSure in Kesar Bedam for India. It’s a Saffron almond flavor and a classical, traditional Indian food eaten mostly in the holidays.

8. Smelling

smell food

The nose always knows. Your sense of smell either pulls you in or repulses you. So, for many people, the nose will decide. Scientists say the major factor in tasting is the olfactory receptors.

Fun fact: Child-bearing women possess the most sensitive sense of smell.

7. Genetic Tasting

genetic tasting

When it comes to taste– your perception, geographic location and personal experience play a significant role, but genetic factors are still at play.

While some people have a heightened sensibility for bitterness, some possess several taste buds more than the average person. We all have senses that are more heightened than others, including taste!

6. Taste in the Name

dessert taste

The name of the food product can jolt the taste buds into action! Rich or scrumptious chocolate sounds much more appetizing than plain chocolate.

That’s why food brands and restaurants choose flavors that are popular and names that stir your imagination! We’ve all been so full after dinner and still say “yes” to a dessert that simply “sounds good.”

5. It’s Also Mental

taste mental

Think about your favorite dish and how much you enjoy it every single time. You start salivating– right? You remember the distinct texture and taste of it on your tongue.

We all have expectations based on what we remember, which puts our cognitive aspect of smell to work. When it’s familiar, you know it won’t let your tastebuds down!

4. Looks Says a Lot

presentation food

The appearance and presentation of a dish or specific food can wake up all your senses. You get excited that that dish holds several possibilities. We can all agree that visual appeal sells products better.

Consumer choice of a product depends on the packaging, color and texture. But the deciding factor of whether or not we like something is, of course, taste!

3. Illness Affecting Taste

sick eating taste

Sickness can drastically alter your sense of taste! Sinus congestion is well-known for altering taste, but many other illnesses can as well.

Other taste-altering illnesses include cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and you guessed it, COVID-19! Since it is hard to enjoy food without the delicious flavors, losing taste can result in a loss of appetite.

2. Expose Children Early

children eating taste

Children can be picky, no doubt. Some things just taste bad to them. But as they grow older, their preferences change, and they learn to appreciate food more. It’s advisable to expose them early to a variety of tastes to expand their pallet.

Doing so allows them to get their proper nutrition because they’ll be more willing to eat the oh-so dreaded fruits and vegetables. Ensure that you encourage them to eat their required amounts of fruits and veggies to help shape their dietary preferences as they’re getting on to four or five years old.

1. Temperature and Taste

temperature hot

The temperature of foods or beverages you consume makes more of an impact on you than you probably think. What’s better than an ice-cold soda on a hot day?

It makes a mouth-watering difference in the flavor profile. Many of us know that a hot meal is a better-tasting meal. The warmth or heat in meals entices those aromas to exhale and stimulate your olfactory system– which manages your sense of smell.

Your Own Unique Taste Profile

taste profile

There are millions of unique taste profiles all over the globe. Culinary delights cross boundaries, enriching other cultures. Depending on where you live, where you grew up and however you are socialized, your sense of taste will lead you to get creative and adventurous with your own arsenal of foods. Entice your taste buds and broaden your culinary horizon by trying new things!