A healthy tongue sloughs and regrows taste buds approximately every two weeks.  Recent evidence shows that if we decrease sugar for a few weeks then our tastes start to change.  I experienced this for myself in the late 1970’s as an overworked, and possibly over-socialized college junior.  Unfortunately, this taste bud transformation can work positively or negatively.  

College for me, starting my sophomore year, was very much about studying. That’s when I decided to go to dental school. It’s not that I didn’t have any fun – I could always work that in – but I was also a serious student.   Mid junior year, I started having these transient episodes of extreme weakness and lightheadedness.  Throughout high school, I had always been athletic and extremely healthy, so this was alarming.  My physician recommended that I totally avoid all sugar for three weeks and then have a “fasting glucose tolerance test.”  I was fastidious about avoiding sugar. The test took several hours and several blood draws.  They took blood at different intervals to measure how well my body was handling sugar and how well my pancreas was producing insulin.  

Having not had my “sweet” taste buds tickled in three weeks, I vividly remember the sickening syrupy taste of the glucose. I erroneously thought it tasted terrible just because it was “medicine.”  As soon as the test was over, I eagerly went to a local ice cream parlor for a treat.  I ordered a big ice cream sundae, with whipped cream and a cherry on top.  That’s when I realized that even that sweet treat was almost more than I could stomach.

At that point in my life, I would typically buy three candy bars and a Diet Dr. Pepper from the Student Union vending machine everyday, put them in my backpack, and head to the library to study for a few hours.  Abruptly stopping sugar had been TERRIBLY DIFFICULT.  I didn’t have many other options for snacks as this was the era when we thought a Snickers Bar was healthy because it had peanuts in it.  You can imagine my excitement when the physician said, “You have no reason to change anything in your lifestyle.  Everything is normal.”  Woohoo!

So I went back to my old habits.  It didn’t take long to “reacquire” my taste for all things sweet.  

Fast forward to 2016.  Although I do not believe that refined sugar is totally evil, here’s what I have learned:

  • It contains nothing of value to help us LIVE YOUNGER – no nutrients or fiber.
  • It contributes to many lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, which is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.
  • It is addictive both physically and emotionally.
  • It is hiding in many foods today that you would never suspect, like yogurt and health bars.
  • You have to be patient and determined to swim “upstream” in order to curb your sugar intake and change your emotional desire for sugar.
  • Over time, taste buds adapt.

I’ll say that last statement again. Our taste buds acclimate to what we give them.  I’m living proof of this.  In my own START SOMEWHERE approach of decreasing sugar for the past few years, I have found that I’m wanting it less and less.  During the month of August, I’m eliminating it totally.  Incredibly, I am craving salads.  Please don’t judge me.  I would not have believed me either back in 1979.  

Taste bud transformation is possible.  Give your body more of what it needs.  Before long, it will start wanting more of what it needs.  Join me as we START SOMEWHERE learning simple strategies to live a fuller, more joyful life.  You can do it.  I will help you.

Taste Bud Transformation

Taste Bud Transformation