Seniors may lose the ability to 'smell the food they taste'

Your ability to "smell" the foods you taste weakens as you age, new research suggests.

Along with your nose, you can detect aromas through your mouth when you chew your food, which releases certain types of molecules, researchers explained.

The study included 102 healthy non-smokers, aged 18 to 72, who ate various foods and were asked to rate how intensely they detected two tastes (sweet and salty) and four odours (strawberry, vanilla, chicken and soy sauce).

Read: Unravelling the secrets of the nose

The volunteers tended to be better at tasting sweet and salty rather than detecting the odours. Only 3 percent of the participants had difficulty tasting at least traces of sweet or salty, but up to 23 percent had trouble detecting some of the odours.

This suggests that there's little difference in how people experience the same taste. But, there could be significant variation in how intensely they experience an aroma, according to researchers Tyler Flaherty and Juyun Lim, of Oregon State University.

Read: Your nose can smell danger

Increasing age lowered people's ability to smell more than their ability to taste, according to the study published recently in the journal Chemosensory Perception.

"Generally, large individual differences in odour responsiveness become even greater when ageing is considered as a factor," Flaherty said in a journal news release.

Reasons why the ability to smell declines as people get older may include long-term medication use or age-related physical and mental changes. Factors that could affect the ability to detect smells through the mouth include the use of dentures, according to the researchers.

Read more:

Taste and smell disorders

How taste pleases and protects

Smokers' tongues fail taste test

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