Have you ever noticed that food lacks flavor when you're sick? That's because the aromas of the food may not move as freely through a stuffy or runny nose. And since you can't detect smells, food tastes less intense. Why?
Take a look at your tongue in the mirror. See all those little bumps? They are groups of taste detectors called taste buds. There are as many as 10,000 of them on your tongue!
When you take a bite, taste buds detect tiny microscopic molecules in the food. They send taste signals to your brain. Then your brain processes the information and tells you if the food is sweet, bitter, salty, or sour.
But that's not all. Your senses work together. Flavor comes from food molecules that flow through the air and drift into your nose. Smell detectors in your nose send signals to a "library" of smells in your brain. This area is also connected to memory, emotion, and thought. Together, they help you make sense of the smell signals.
Just think about the last time you smelled fresh baked cookies. How did it smell? And how does it make you feel? Maybe you were happy and can't wait to eat some. Or, if cookies have made you ill before, you might wince at the smell!