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Five ways to rehabilitate your taste and smell while recovering from Covid-19


While regaining your taste and smell after illness can take time, there a range of exercises that offer “optimal sensations” to assist our taste buds while they recover. Here are five ways that can help assist your senses on the road to recovery:

Try a more varied range of fruits & vegetables

As documented by Forbes India, ENT doctor Professor Sven Saussez advised people to begin by getting their fill of fruits and vegetables (preferably seasonal ones) in order to ingest a maximum of antioxidants and B vitamins. According Saussez, fruits and vegetables allow for a better nervous recovery of the tastebuds and are key for rehabilitating the sense of smell.

Try upping your oral health

Maintaining good oral health was also outlined as essential to keep the mouth healthy and avoid infections. A report from Switzerland-based FDI World Dentist Federation published in March noted that many dentists around the world were seeing the fallout from people avoiding the dentist even when deemed safe to go – which had begun to result in serious problems and brushing the teeth two to three times a day was highlighted as “imperative” for maintaining good bacteria in the mouth and reducing bad bacteria.

Try balancing the savoury with the sweet

In terms of detecting flavours, eating a balanced diet has been outlined as a key way to keep your tastebuds limber. The right proportions of protein, carbohydrates, fats as well as little treats to maintain a healthy weight and have ample energy have been well documented, but this recommendation also reportedly has an impact on our taste buds and ability to detect flavours too – especially sweetness. Forbes outlined how a study from the University of Bangor in Wales showed that drinking too many sugary drinks could also prevent people from detecting sweet tastes.

Try ‘taste exercises’ that engage the brain 

Scientific research indicates that the brain is crucial when tasting and that the ‘perceived flavour’ of a food stems from an interaction of both taste and smell. Olfactory stimulation is reportedly  “essential” for rebuilding your repertoire of tastes and smells. This is why people suffering from Covid-19 and anosmia (loss of smell) are encouraged to train their olfactory memory by smelling essential oils several times a day. The ultimate goal should be to reconnect smells to words.

“The mechanism of taste starts on the tongue, where thousands of taste buds are concentrated in papillae. Taste buds are also located on the roof of the mouth and in the throat. Each taste bud includes about 50 to 100 specialised cells that contain taste receptors. Information from the chemical stimulus within taste cells is translated into an electrical message that is relayed by taste nerves to the brain stem, where initial taste processing takes place. From there, impulses are relayed to other parts of the brain,” said Food Technology Magazine. In the same article expert Robin Dando of Cornell University emphasised that “a taste for sweet in the natural world is a signal that there are calories there. And in the past environment, until recent history, calories were a very good thing. You don’t survive without calories. The more that you could detect them and consume them, the better for you.”

Try to vary your olfactory environment  

The report reminded that people can preserve their “sensory acuity” by challenging themselves each day by identifying all the smells that surround them – from those in the kitchen to those in the street, whether they are sweet to our nostrils or repulsive. This does not mean people need to travel far. It could just be from room-to-room, especially if they are isolating. But it does mean reintroducing different aromatic items into your physical space with regulatory to give your senses the opportunity to pick up on a range of scents. From fresh coffee to tea tree oil, eucalyptus leaves or fruit zest through to flowers, soaps, umami spreads and fruity jams the options are endless.

Seeing an opportunity to revive some of the lost palates of the world, a sensory kit was also recently launched by Portugal’s Sogrape wine group who teamed up with scientists at the University of Aveiro in an effort to rehabilitate patients who had lost their sense of smell due to Covid-19.

According to Sílvia M. Rocha, professor of the chemistry department and team leader of the UA research group: “It is crucial to understand what type of molecules released by the aroma discs are most effective in recovering the sense of smell, and whether their impact is the same across the different types of olfactory disorders.” Clinical trials are now underway.

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