Why do humans have less taste buds as they grow older

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… and is there anything we can do about it?
And does anyone know how they work at all? I find this topic incredibly interesting 🙂

In: Biology

Taste buds work by detecting chemicals in the food you eat.

Your taste buds are receptors that are waiting for chemicals. Think of it like a lock and a key. Only specific types of chemicals will fit into the receptors and activate them. Once they are active, they send a message to the brain to tell it that the right-shaped-chemical is present.

There are five different types of taste bud receptors. These, broadly speaking, detect sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and savoury. All combined, they give you your sense of taste.

Your taste buds sit on the top of your tongue and take a lot of damage, just like the rest of your mouth. Every time you eat, or drink, or speak, or swallow, or do whatever you’re doing now as you read this and move your tongue about to feel it inside your mouth, you scrape the top layer of cells off of the surface of your tongue and cheeks.

For this reason, they are very fast-replicating cells. You make more all the time.

Unfortunately, as you age, you start to slow down. Your cell divisions slow. This includes your fast-replicating cells. This is why your sense of taste diminishes. You don’t have as many taste buds in old age, because you can’t replace them as fast.