View Full Version : Food tasting bland

Jane Michel
02-14-2009, 02:01 AM
For the past week almost everything I've eaten has tasted bland and boring and I have been craving for some taste explosion... something extra salty or spicy or sour. I've tried bacon, lindt 85% and almond butter but they don't cut it. I'm not craving for noodles, bread, rice, or ice cream. Maybe the taste of potato chips and pizza since they have strong tastes.... but not the carbs in them.

Anyone experience this before or know what is happening?

Garrett Smith
02-14-2009, 12:40 PM
I'd suggest you start by looking into zinc deficiency.
Zinc May Account for Good Taste

There's no doubt that people with severe zinc deficiencies, which are rare in the United States, often lose their sense of taste. But there's one thing that many of the doctors who treat taste and smell disorders apparently do not know (or believe, for some reason): Even a relatively mild zinc deficiency can cause problems, says leading zinc researcher Ananda Prasad, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit.

"Years ago in Iran, we found aberrations in taste in young boys who were zinc-deficient. Their growth and sexual maturity were retarded, and they ate clay," he explains. "More recently, we found that volunteers made mildly zinc-deficient also lost some of their taste acuity." (Eating clay is a strange deficiency symptom known as geophagia.)

The volunteers, all healthy young men, weren't being seriously deprived of zinc, Dr. Prasad says. They ate what might be considered a fairly typical vegetarian diet, getting about five milligrams of zinc a day, one-third of the Daily Value. And they ate soy as their main source of protein. "Soy and grains contain phytates, compounds that interfere with the absorption of a variety of nutrients, including zinc," Dr. Prasad explains. The volunteers' sense of taste diminished after six months on the diet. (They also developed problems adapting their eyes to darkness.)

When these people were supplemented with 30 milligrams of zinc a day, their ability to taste returned in about two to three months.

Both taste buds and olfactory (smell) cells, which are found high in the nose, are specialized cells. They depend on zinc, along with other nutrients, for their growth and maintenance, Dr. Prasad explains.

Taste buds are especially dependent on zinc, says Dr. Henkin. He found that cells in the salivary glands make gustin, a zinc-dependent protein that is secreted in saliva. "Gustin is important in maintaining the sensation of taste," Dr. Henkin says. "It acts on the stem cells that are in the taste buds, causing these cells to differentiate, or to divide and develop into new taste bud cells."

Dr. Henkin believes that about 20 to 25 percent of taste and smell problems are zinc-related, not necessarily because people are zinc-deficient but because their bodies are unable to use zinc properly. "About half of these people benefit from additional zinc, but others don't improve no matter how much zinc they get," he says. He believes that these people have problems making gustin.

If you believe that your taste or smell problem may be linked to low zinc intake, discuss it with your doctor. And if your doctor recommends blood tests, keep in mind that the most commonly done tests, blood plasma and serum zinc levels, detect only severe deficiency, not mild to moderate deficiency, Dr. Prasad says. He measures the zinc content of lymphocytes (white blood cells), a much more sensitive test performed in only a few laboratories nationwide. Dr. Henkin, on the other hand, uses a measurement of zinc in saliva, which reflects the activity of the zinc-dependent enzyme that stimulates taste bud cells to grow and develop. This test, however, is not readily available.

Dr. Prasad believes most people can safely get up to 30 milligrams of zinc a day from foods and supplements. "More than that amount of zinc may interfere with copper absorption and so requires supplementation of 1 to 2 milligrams of copper daily, along with regular blood tests to check for anemia," he cautions. In addition, it's best to consult your doctor before taking zinc in doses of more than 15 milligrams daily, since large amounts of the mineral can be toxic.

Seafood and meats provide the most easily absorbed form of zinc. Eastern oysters are far and away the best source, with six cooked medium-size oysters providing about 76 milligrams of zinc. Three ounces of beef, veal, lamb, crab or pork provides about 7 milligrams of zinc. If you're taking supplements, zinc acetate and zinc gluconate deliver the goods with less stomach upset than zinc sulfate, Dr. Prasad says.

If zinc is going to improve your taste, it should begin to do so within three months, Dr. Prasad says. If you don't notice an improvement by then, it's likely that zinc is not going to help you. You should then cut back to the Daily Value, 15 milligrams, and consider some other cause of your problem, he advises.

Zinc-related sensory abnormalities, including decreased taste and smell acuity and problems adjusting your eyes in the dark, have been associated with a number of conditions, Dr. Prasad reports: liver disease, kidney disease, Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson's disease, thyroid problems, multiple sclerosis, serious burns, Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes, flulike infections, sickle-cell anemia and anorexia. These abnormalities have also been noted in people taking penicillamine, a rheumatoid arthritis drug. Dr. Prasad also believes that vegetarians and older people who don't eat much food, including meats, are often shortchanged on zinc. "Mild deficiency is much more common than most people realize," he says.

Jane Michel
02-14-2009, 01:41 PM
Thanks for your suggestion Garrett, I'll go read up more on it.
Yesterday I did a Yahoo search on "food tasting bland" and results brought up websites talking about how anorexics find food bland... but I'm not anorexic lol.

Garrett Smith
02-14-2009, 05:21 PM
Anorexics are definitely zinc-deficient. Just an FYI and an interesting correlation to what you found...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17272939?ordinalpos=10&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsP anel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
Eat Weight Disord. 2006 Dec;11(4):e109-11.
How does zinc supplementation benefit anorexia nervosa?
BACKGROUND: A randomized controlled trial of zinc supplementation in anorexia nervosa (AN) reported a two-fold increase of the rate of increase of body mass index (BMI) in the zinc group. Zinc is inexpensive, readily available and free of significant side effects. However, oral zinc supplementation is infrequently prescribed as an adjunctive treatment for AN. Understanding the mechanism of action of zinc may increase its use. HYPOTHESIS: Low zinc intake, which is very common in AN, adversely affects neurotransmitters in various parts of the brain, including gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) and the amygdala, which are abnormal in AN. Zinc supplementation corrects these abnormalities, resulting in clinical benefit in AN. CONCLUSIONS: Oral administration of 14 mg of elemental zinc daily for 2 months in all patients with AN should be routine.

Jane Michel
02-14-2009, 08:15 PM
Hmmm interesting...
Two-fold increase - that's a lot.

Garrett Smith
02-14-2009, 10:47 PM
And that's with a paltry 14mg zinc supplementation a day...not much if you asked me.

Patrick Yeung
02-15-2009, 02:44 PM
But, if you want flavor boosts, why not add spices and herbs to your food if you arent?

Its amazing what garlic, onions, basil and PEPPERS will do to dishes.

There is a recipie for caulieflower pizza crust, which is made with 1:1 ratio riced caulieflower + mozzerella and egg, then baked. It comes out pretty much awesome. And with some spicy tomato sauce loaded with spices and cheese and whatever topping youd like, and youve got yoruself a low carb, high fat and flavor meal.

Jane Michel
02-16-2009, 12:58 AM
Garrett - do you supplement with zinc and if so how much a day?

Patrick - it wasn't so much a flavour boost that I wanted but for my taste buds to return to normal. I was eating food cooked with spices and herbs and sauces and even my favourite food at the Indonesian cafe I go to tasted blah.

Garrett Smith
02-16-2009, 06:19 AM
I'm currently doing a loading phase of zinc, as my zinc tally (taste) test showed that I was very zinc deficient.
This taste test uses 10ml of liquid containing 10mg of zinc sulphate heptahydrate. This solution is held and swished around in the mouth for 10 seconds. The taste experienced by the person doing the test is based on the level of zinc in their taste buds. The taste will range from no taste (like water) to a strong bitter taste. If there is no taste swallow the liquid, as it is a good source of zinc. If the taste is unpleasant, spit it out as if swallowed the bitter taste will worsen.

It is estimated that 90% of the population is zinc deficient and zinc deficiencies are more common with men. You may want to test your zinc if; you have imbalanced hormones, maldigestion, prostate problems, low adrenal function, infertility problems, weak hair, skin or nails, white spots on the nails, very dry skin, low appetite, are interested in zinc as an antioxidant, are supplementing with zinc and want to make sure that you are on the appropriate dosage.


1 = Zinc deficiency- no taste at all
2 = Inadequate zinc levels- no immediate taste but after a few seconds mouth may feel dry, furry or metallic
3 = Moderate zinc levels- a definite strong unpleasant taste is noted almost immediately
4 = Optimal zinc levels- a strong, unpleasant taste is noted immediately

A score of 1 or 2 requires zinc supplementation. It is not recommended to use more than 50mg of zinc daily, if unsupervised by a nutritionally based health care provider or if you are not also supplementing with other minerals to keep balance in the body. If you change or begin a supplementation regime due to the results from this test, it is advised to retest 4 weeks later to check results.
I'm taking more than the amount above and doing re-testing once a month. I hesitate to put up how much I'm taking as it is a lot for someone who doesn't know what they are doing or aren't under my care in some way.

Jane Michel
02-16-2009, 11:29 PM
No worries Garrett. Thanks for the cut and paste. I'll stick with the one tab a day as advised by the instructions on the supplement bottle. Taste is much improved from the first post already.

Garrett Smith
02-17-2009, 04:32 AM
Great to hear. I do know Poliquin's maintenance dose is around 30mg/day. I seem to need more than that personally. I also seem to need a lot of magnesium. What is it with me and minerals? (rhetorical question, of course)

Chris Forbis
02-17-2009, 06:17 AM
Great to hear. I do know Poliquin's maintenance dose is around 30mg/day. I seem to need more than that personally. I also seem to need a lot of magnesium. What is it with me and minerals? (rhetorical question, of course)

I've found on the Magnesium front I don't need to supplement too much. I take 1 tsp of Natural Calm 3 days a week. Any more than that and BMs get too loose. Zinc I can supplement like crazy and still only get a mild peroxide taste on the test.

Gant Grimes
02-17-2009, 02:54 PM
If the mineral supps don't work, I suggest gravy or BBQ sauce.