Your Tongue is Hairy, and 4 More Things You May Not Know About Your Taste Buds
They die, and die often.
Your taste buds have a lifespan that can last from 10 days to two weeks. It is possible to kill your taste buds by burning your tongue, but they regenerate rather quickly. However, smoking can actually reduce taste bud “pods” (called papillae) and therefore dull your taste buds more permanently.
They are hairy.
Taste buds are made up of microvilli, which are microscopic hairs that send signals to the brain to tell us how to process and identify how things taste.
They change with age.
Why? Because of the connection between microvilli and the brain. As the brain changes with age, so will the way your brain receives those signals.
“Umami” is your fifth basic taste.
When we are describing the food we eat, there are four tastes you can probably easily identify: bitter, sweet, salty, and sour. The fifth one is called “umami,” which is a Japanese word that translates roughly to “meaty.” This is the term used to describe a food or drink that is savory.
“Taste” and “flavor” are not the same thing.
Your taste buds need the help of your nose’s olfactory senses to send the correct message to the brain about how something tastes. The flavor of something is determined by the taste and the smell senses.