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Friday

 

Penn study: When food loses its appeal




























A University of Pennsylvania research team has found a high incidence of an under-appreciated problem in patients with multiple sclerosis: poor ability to identify tastes.

Richard Doty, director of Penn’s Smell and Taste Center, who led the study, said previous work found that people with the autoimmune disease had trouble with smell. Sense of smell can affect the ability to taste and enjoy food.

However, the new study independently assessed the ability to identify bitter, sour, sweet and salty tastes. The amount of dysfunction was associated with the amount of damage seen in MRIs of patients’ brains.

Doty said it is important to consider that patients may not be tasting food properly because “a certain number of individuals with MS have nutritional problems.” Patients may not be eating because food does not taste good to them. Heightening flavors may make food more appealing, he said.

Multiple sclerosis affects about 450,000 people in the U.S. It causes the immune system to attack nerve fibers and mylelin, a fatty substance that surrounds them. Symptoms include vision problems, numbness, tingling and difficulty walking.

Previous studies have estimated that 5 to 20 percent of MS patients have taste problems.

The new study, published last month in the Journal of Neurology, compared 73 MS patients with 73 healthy people. The MS patients were considered to have a taste problem when their performance was below the fifth percentile of the control group. Of the MS patients, 15 percent had trouble with a bitter flavor, 22 percent with sour, 25 percent with sweet and 31.5 percent with salty.

Women did better than men in both groups, probably because they have more taste papillae and taste buds than men.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by PHILLY
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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