Taste buds are some of your most important body parts. Everything you eat is tested with your taste buds to tell you if the food is good or bad. You can actually see the several thousands of taste buds on your tongue.
Taste buds are actually tiny nerve endings that allow us to perceive different tastes, including:
- Salty (i.e. french fries, peanuts, salted pork)
- Sweet (i.e. cotton candy, strawberries, sugar)
- Sour (i.e. shock tarts, lemons, limes)
- Bitter (i.e. black licorice, radishes, some medicines)
- Umami (a special taste in meat)
Another major component to taste is smell. Just by using smell, you can often tell the difference in foods or drinks, but without smell it can be difficult to distinguish the differences. This is why, when you have a cold or a stuffy nose, food doesn't taste normal.
Try this at home:
- Pour out a small glass of juice or any other drink with flavor.
- Next, take a few breaths through your nose and drink some juice.
- Then, plug your nose by pinching it with one hand and drink some more juice. After drinking, you can unplug your nose.
- Do you notice any differences? Your sense of taste should be less when you plug your nose. This is why you pinch your nose when taking bad-tasting medicine.
As you get older, you tend to have more problems with your taste buds and your sense of taste is weakened. Taste buds can be dulled or even damaged by:
Fortunately, damaged taste buds can heal, so your sense of taste is not totally lost. If you experience continued irritation of your taste buds, contact your doctor.
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Revised By: Richard Liang,
high school student writer
Reviewed By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last Reviewed: October 2013
Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
What are Taste Buds?, Kids Health.