How Does Smell Affect Taste?

How Does Smell Affect Taste?

A physiological process involving the cells of your nasal passage and tongue cause smell to affect taste. The combination of the senses of taste and smell allows your brain to define the food‘s flavor.

Specific choice of lifestyles, vitamin deficiencies as well as illnesses can decrease the perception of your flavor. So what is this flavor? We’ll see to that in this article.


The singular sensation of flavor is perceived as a combination of taste, texture, and smell. The actual taste of food refers to the sensations that the taste bud cells are capable of detecting. These tastes are primarily:

  • Salty,
  • Bitter,
  • Sweet,
  • Sour.

The sensory cells present near the taste buds are capable of perceiving the texture of food or drink. These can range from spiciness, creaminess and even temperature.

Your nasal passage contains cells capable of perceiving smell. Those smell cells relay such information to your mouth via olfactory referral. Such a combination of both smell and taste results in a singular sensation called flavor.

Experimenting with smell as well as taste

Like we said before, the smell cells relay olfactory information to your mouth through olfactory referral. The phenomenon is explained by the “Scientific American” through an experiment.

While chewing a strawberry jellybean, hold your nose together. You will detect the sweet and sour taste of the jelly bean as your taste-buds make contact with that jellybean. Your sensory cells will be able to perceive the hard sensation at the start and then the soft sensation as you chew on the jellybean. The sense of smell’s absent because you’ve temporarily blocked your nasal passage.

If you release your nose thereby, allowing the odor molecules to enter into the nose, you will get the strawberry flavor of your jellybean.

Impairment of taste 

Several factors play a major role in impairing your taste buds. For example, cigarette tar has high potentials of impairing your taste buds.

A deficiency of vitamin B-12 or zinc can also impair the sense of taste.

Non-smokers have a better perception of taste than smokers. So it goes without saying that cigarette smoking is injurious to health.

Taste and illnesses

Illnesses can also play a major role in impairing your taste and also your flavor. Such illnesses are inclusive of:

  • Cold/flu,
  • Nasal infection,
  • Gingivitis,
  • Nasal polyps,
  • Strep throat,
  • Sinusitis,
  • Salivary gland infections.

So if you suffer from any of these illnesses resulting in temporary loss of taste, do remember that it’s not a major cause of worry. It’s just a temporary situation and would rectify within a short time. See medical attention and you’ll see your sense of taste return to normal in no time.

It’s time we bring this article to a close. Hope you had a good read.

Sudipto Das

Sudipto writes technical and educational content periodically for and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got a B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation.
Follow him on twitter @SudiptoDas1993

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