Why do you need to be able to smell in order to taste?

  • Thread starter gravenewworld
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Smell
In summary, our ability to taste is closely linked to our sense of smell, with about 90% of taste being influenced by our olfactory senses. The nose is a specialized organ that can detect a wider range of molecules compared to our basic taste receptors on the tongue. While taste and smell may not be essential for survival, they work together to help us identify and enjoy different flavors in our food. The exact mechanisms of how olfactory senses work and the processing involved in the brain are still not fully understood.
  • #1
1,132
26
I always wondered, why you have to be able to smell in order taste anything. Right now my sinuses are so clogged up from allergies, I can not taste one single thing. Why is this?
 
Biology news on Phys.org
  • #2
I heard that 90% of taste is smell. If you smell something and then taste it you'll find they give off the same essence. :smile:
 
  • #3
probably your nerve endings are connects...look up olfactory senses
 
  • #4
Because you do not really taste anything, you smell it.

You can only taste things like, sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami.

Our taste is not better than needed to make sure we eat good food. Same for smell. It isn't there for our enjoyment in the first place.
 
  • #5
As Daevren said, we only have a few very basic taste receptors on our tongue. The nose is a very specialized organ and can discriminate many more different molecules.
 
  • #6
Daevren said:
Because you do not really taste anything, you smell it.

You can only taste things like, sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami.

I guess it also depends on what you are going to taste or smell, and all of those flavors can be smelt if their concentrations are really high i.e an extremely hot and extremely sweet soup which you don't need to taste in actuality, or a sour yogurt doesn't need you to taste whereas you still realize it is sour...
 
  • #7
This is true. When I have to drink terrible health drink (or shot glasses hehe) I hold my nose..If you don't smell it you don't tase it.

So why is it a sense?
 
  • #8
Why is it a sense? You have got receptors that recognize certain molecules and transform the input into an electrical signal that is transferred to the brain. Maybe someone could look up exactly how olfactory senses work.
 
  • #9
Interestingly, even olfactory receptors are somewhat limited in the number of chemicals they recognize. There is a lot of processing in the brain that isn't well understood. (Did you know this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine went to folks studying olfaction?) There is a lot of context-dependent processing, so I would hazard the guess that the combination of smell and taste provides more information about the food than either alone in order to sort the identity of the food.
 

1. Why is smell important for taste?

Smell is important for taste because the majority of what we perceive as taste is actually coming from the olfactory system. Our taste buds can only detect five basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami), but our sense of smell can detect thousands of different aromas. These aromas combine with the taste information from our taste buds to create the complex flavors we experience when eating or drinking.

2. Can you taste without the ability to smell?

No, it is not possible to fully taste without the ability to smell. While you may still be able to detect the basic tastes, your experience of flavor will be greatly diminished. This is why foods and drinks often taste bland when you have a cold or stuffy nose.

3. How does smell affect taste?

Smell affects taste by enhancing and modifying the flavors we perceive. When we smell something, the molecules from that substance enter our nasal cavity and bind to receptors in our olfactory system. These receptors send signals to our brain, which then combines them with taste information to create the perception of flavor.

4. What happens if you lose your sense of smell?

If you lose your sense of smell, your ability to taste will also be affected. This can lead to a decreased enjoyment of food and can even affect your appetite. In some cases, a loss of smell can also be a sign of a larger underlying health issue, so it is important to speak with a medical professional if you experience a sudden loss of smell.

5. Can you train your sense of smell to improve your taste?

Yes, you can train your sense of smell to improve your taste. This is often done through activities such as wine tasting or sensory exercises, which help to develop a stronger connection between your olfactory system and taste buds. Some experts also recommend incorporating a variety of flavors and spices into your diet to help expand your palate and enhance your ability to taste different flavors.

Similar threads

  • Chemistry
Replies
16
Views
2K
  • Biology and Medical
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Biology and Medical
Replies
7
Views
2K
  • Biology and Medical
Replies
23
Views
12K
Replies
8
Views
7K
  • Biology and Medical
2
Replies
44
Views
18K
  • Sci-Fi Writing and World Building
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Biology and Medical
Replies
4
Views
4K
Replies
2
Views
789
  • General Discussion
Replies
19
Views
2K
Back
Top