Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Can you imagine a life without senses? How your life would be without aromas, flavors, views, sounds and hugs? Our senses exist to allow us to observe and understand the world around us, to protect us from possible threats, to make our life meaningful and worth living. Here are 7+7 tips to become a better olive oil taster and a healthier person!
Practice scent training Inhaling strong smells every day can engage new receptors in your nose, improving your sense of smell over time. Choose several strong smells (olive oil defects for example or more pleasant ones like essential oils) spend a few minutes every day sniffing each one. After a few weeks, your nose will be able to pick up on these smells more easily. Practice with more smells every month. Essential oils are very useful tools when it comes to scent training. Choose 3 or 4 oils with smells, such as lavender, grapefruit, basil and rose. You can smell dried herbs or spices that, for example, can be present in an extra virgin olive oil like thyme, rosemary, fennel or dried nuts. Take a walk in the countryside and discover smells like fresh cut grass, flowers, fresh herbs, leaves, soil, etc.Avoid scent fatigue by sniffing quickly, rather than deeply inhaling each scent. Smell with your eyes closed Inhaling with your eyes closed can enhance your sense of smell because you can concentrate in what you smell without having many stimuli. Close your eyes and have someone hold different substances under your nose one at a time. See if you can identify the smells. Start by rotating smells that are quite different from fruits & vegetables to alcoholic drinks, spices and essential oils. As you get better at distinguishing between smells, start working with smells that are more difficult to tell apart like lemon, lime and grapefruit or strawberry, cherry and blueberries. Increase your physical activity Getting a little exercise can enhance your sense of smell. Start going for a walk or jogging during the week and when you finish pay attention to the smells around you. The more oxygen you get the better your brain reacts to stimuli and also the extra moisture in your nose, which accumulates with exercise, helps sharpen your ability to smell.
Prevent cold & treat your allergies A clogged sinus, whether it's caused by a cold or allergies, will prevent you from being able to smell properly. A cold will go away, but if you tend to have allergies throughout the year, you might want to check into getting medication to free up your sinuses so you can smell properly again. Be very careful with nose drops since some products can be very strong and dehydrate your nose’s scent receptors. Take natural supplements or eat foods that contain immune system boosters like vitamin C, propolis, turmeric, ginger, red peppers, green tea, garlic, blueberries, spinach, kefir.
Add more zinc to your diet Having a zinc deficiency can lead to a dulled sense of smell as well as taste. Take supplements or consume foods high in zinc, like lamb, beef, eggs, oysters, crab & lobster, almonds, pumpkin seeds, beans, oats, mushrooms, brown rice. Check your medication Certain medications might have the side effect of dulling the sense of smell. Medication prescribed for blood pressure or some antibiotics can affect your sense of smell. If you're on a medication that has this side effect, talk to your doctor to make sure you're receiving the right dosage. Stop smoking Smoking cigarettes kill your nose's scent receptors and gradually make your sense of smell dull. If you can cut back or quit smoking your sense of smell will greatly improve.
Scrub your tongue Tongue scrapping is an ancient Ayurveda detoxification practice that has been used over 5.000 years. When we sleep, our digestive system remains awake, removing toxins from our body by depositing them onto the surface of our tongue. If we don’t scrape away these toxins, they get reabsorbed by the body and can lead to respiratory difficulties, digestive problems, and a compromised immune system. These accumulating toxins is the white layer coating on our tongue. If your tongue is white that is a sign there are excess toxins in your gastrointestinal tract and also your tasting buds are coated and can’t transmit the tasting signals to your brain properly. This is important if you are a professional taster who need your tasting buds to work at their best. To get rid of this white coating on your tongue you can use a special tool called a tongue scrapper or a table spoon. You scrape your tongue from the back to front in long strokes for about 10 times until all the coating is gone. Then you wash your teeth as you normally do every day. Practicing tongue scrapping every morning will gradually enhance your sense of tasting. If you can’t engage in this practice daily at least try it the days you have to participate in a tasting session. Reduce salt and sugar intake Foods containing these two ingredients can alter your sense of taste. They mask delicate flavors and make it more difficult to taste them. When you first cut back on salt and sugar, you might feel that your food lacks flavor, but after a week or two you'll begin to notice the complex flavors you were missing before, plus you will do a great favor to your body! Try reducing salt and sugar in all of your recipes. There's no need to cut salt entirely, a little salt can actually enhance the flavor of food. But don’t use too much because you will lose many delicate flavors. Eat real food Processed foods are often filled with salt, sugar, additives and preservatives. They often contain chemicals and artificial ingredients that can mess with your sense of taste. If you eat a lot of foods with all these ingredients your tasting buds gradually won’t be able to pick up on the subtleties of natural flavors. Snack foods like chips, candies and sodas are designed to be flavor bombs that tap into your brain's pleasure center and stimulate cravings. Try eating instead homemade popcorn with extra virgin olive oil sprinkled with a little bit of natural salt or make a homemade lemonade or fruit juice. Add variety to your diet Stimulate your taste buds by mixing things up in your diet. If you tend to eat bland meals, your ability to taste may deteriorate. Use herbs and spices you don't normally use. Choose foods with different textures and colors, so that every meal is a bouquet of new tastes for your tongue. Use different varieties of olive oil If you are a professional olive oil taster you know how important it is to try different varieties of olive oil in order to train your senses and discover the unique characteristics of each one. Extra virgin olive oil is the best condiment for every dish you are preparing plus is the healthiest fat on earth. Cooking with extra virgin olive oil makes you healthier and happier. The satisfaction you feel when you taste the amazing aromas and flavors of extra virgin olive oil stimulate the secretion of endorphins, the hormones of joy & happiness. Training begins at home so try pairing different varieties of olive oil with food and take your taste buds on a gastronomic journey that can start from your kitchen! Be mindful when you taste Mindfulness means that we have, at any given moment, conscious knowledge of our thoughts, our emotions, our physical senses and the environment around us. Literally means having your mind and feet at the same place. That means when you eat you must enjoy your food concentrating your senses on that action. If you eat and at the same time watch TV, reading the newspaper or speaking on the phone the sure thing is that you miss aromas & flavours and the satisfaction or the information they can offer you. Imagine to taste olive oil in a tasting panel or as a judge in an international competition and at the same time thinking about the bills you have to pay, your broken car or the appointment you have after. How accurate your sensory analysis might be? Don't use any tobacco products Tobacco products affect your sense of taste just as they affect your sense of smell. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco is going to be detrimental to your ability to taste - there's no way around it. If you want to get your taste buds back, quit smoking and chewing.
Agricultural Engineer - Olive Oil Expert Taster
Holistic Wellness Coach
Original article on Mercacei