You Can Now Find Food Thatll Actually Taste Good During Chemo
More than half of people undergoing chemotherapy experience changes in taste that keep them from enjoying or wanting to eat food. Gourmet companies are trying to change that.
Plain water started to taste different, she tells Healthline. It started to have this metallic taste exactly the same as if you were to lick a metal spoon.
Then, the metal tinge spread to food. I used to love steamed fish, but during chemo, I couldnt even take the dish, it smelled so awful. The fishy smell was so bad Id throw up, she says.
The changes were manageable, but the experience was alienating. It can be quite a struggle when people dont understand what you mean by loss of taste. To them, the food tastes exactly fine and normal, Teh says.
She learned to cook, which was a good way to occupy her free time and adapt to her new taste buds. But even that was hard, emotionally, at times. Sometimes not getting the perfect taste with chemo taste buds can be severely depressing, she adds.
Having your favorite foods suddenly taste like sawdust or metal is surprisingly common among people undergoing chemo.
What Causes A Metallic Taste In Mouth
- Prescription drugs: Certain medications such as tetracycline and lithium , can cause dry mouth and leave a metallic taste in the mouth. The body absorbs the medication and it can come out in your saliva, resulting in a bad taste.
- Poor oral hygiene: People who do not brush their teeth or floss on a regular basis can develop gingivitis or a tooth infection. The metal taste should clear up once the infection is treated by your dentist.
- Infections: Infections, such as colds and sinusitis, can change your sense of taste. These are temporary issues and will be gone once the infection dissipates.
- Over-the-counter vitamins and medications: Multivitamins that contain heavy metals, such as copper, zinc, and chromium, or cold medications such as zinc lozenges can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. Vitamins such as iron or calcium supplements can also cause that metal taste. Once the body processes the vitamins and medicine, the taste will go away.
- Pregnancy: In the early stages of pregnancy, some women report having a metallic taste in their mouths. The cause is unknown, but researchers believe it is caused by the hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy.
- Cancer treatment: The American Cancer Society indicates that certain types of chemotherapy and radiation treatments can cause a metallic taste. The side effect is referred to as chemo mouth. Certain vitamin supplements, such as vitamin D or zinc, can help prevent this taste in people who are undergoing radiation therapy.
Common Causes Of Metallic Taste In Your Mouth
Among the causes are chemotherapy, zinc deficiency, hormonal changes during pregnancy, hypothyroidism, liver diseases and certain medications, including antibiotics and antihistamines.
Chemotherapy to treat cancer is a common cause of a metallic taste in the mouth. Among the side effects of chemotherapy include damage to the oral cavity, causing salivary gland dysfunctions and oral infections. Serious infections and salivary gland dysfunction result in a reduction in saliva.
Also, individuals who undergo radiation therapy may lose saliva tissue. A decrease in saliva can lead to dysgeusia and the associated metallic taste in your mouth. Saliva happens to be a crucial component of your taste mechanism by protecting and interacting with taste receptors in your mouth.
Zinc deficiency is another common cause of taste distortion. The definitive role of zinc deficiency in dysgeusia is not known. However, zinc plays a role in the production and repair of taste buds.
Some studies that patients treated with zinc have increased calcium concentrations in their saliva. For your taste buds to function properly, they rely on calcium receptors. As such, zinc is an important aspect of optimally functioning taste buds.
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Tips For Loss Of Appetite
- Eating several small meals and snacks throughout the day can be easier to manage.
- If you are worried about losing weight, ask your doctor for high calorie drinks that you can sip between chemotherapy treatments.
- There aren’t any rules about what you should and shouldn’t eat, if you feel like it, try it.
- Don’t give yourself a hard time if you don’t feel like eating in the 2 or 3 days after your treatments as you can make up for lost calories in between treatments.
- It is very important to drink plenty even if you can’t eat.
- Don’t fill your stomach with a large amount of liquid before eating.
- Try to eat high calorie foods to keep your weight up.
The drugs that usually cause taste changes are some:
- chemotherapy drugs
- other drugs, for example, anti sickness medicines
With chemotherapy, it depends on:
- the type of drug
- how the body processes the drug
Doctors think that some chemotherapy drugs cause taste changes because they have a direct effect on cells in the mouth. These are the cells responsible for taste. They are also called taste receptor cells.
Some chemotherapy drugs also cause changes to the spit in the mouth. This too affects taste.
You might lose weight when having taste changes as it can affect your appetite. You might go off certain foods because they taste different from what they usually do. Some people find that they start preferring spicy food.
You can try the tips on the list below to help you cope with taste changes.
Tips For Managing Taste Changes
Your sense of taste is made up of 5 main tastes: salty, sweet, savory , bitter, and sour. The most common changes are feeling bitter and metallic tastes in your mouth. Sometimes, food does not have any taste. Changes are different for each person, and often stop after treatment ends.
You may notice your favorite foods taste different than usual or do not taste good. If this happens, avoid them for now. You can always try them again after your treatment ends.
Its very important to keep good oral hygiene during treatment. Taking good care of your mouth will help manage your taste changes. Brush your teeth and tongue if your doctor or dentist says its OK. Brush at least 2 times a day with a soft bristle toothbrush thats gentle on your teeth and tongue.
Your care team may recommend using an alcohol-free mouthwash . You can also make your own mouthwash. Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 quart or warm water. Use mouthwash often, such as before and after eating, and throughout the day.
Using dental floss can help with your taste changes. If you already floss, you can keep doing so. Floss gently to avoid causing any bleeding. If you do not floss, talk with your dentist about the best way to start.
- Using nicotine or any tobacco product. This includes vaping devices, such as vape pens or e-cigarettes.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Eating sharp or pointy foods . This can harm your mouth.
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Tasty Recipes If You Have Chemo Mouth
The category of dysgeusia-designed fare is still new and is much more popular abroad.
In addition to Mamma Beer, Amsterdam boasts the HungerNDThirst Foundation, an organization that helps people find relief from dysgeusia through education, research, tastings, and product development.
In England, the nonprofit Life Kitchen offers free cooking classes at restaurants around London to people undergoing chemo.
For those of us stateside, circumventing the changes in taste go back to the basics.
Teh, for example, started getting heavy-handed with spices. I adapted to the changes in taste by trying out different spices that are good for health, like basil, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper, and trying new cooking methods like frying, grilling, baking, and pan-searing, she explains.
If Theres A Bitter Or Metallic Taste In Your Mouth:
- Rinse your mouth with water before and after meals.
- If meats taste bitter, marinate them in sauces or fruit juices or squeeze lemon juice on them. Do this only if your mouth isnt sore.
- Include meat substitutes for protein.
- Use plastic utensils instead of metal.
- Try sugar-free mints or gum.
- Avoid canned food items . Choose items in a glass or plastic jar or a box instead.
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Combating Chemo Fatigue With Diet
It is very common to feel tired and lacking in energy after chemotherapy, this can affect your appetite and make it difficult to eat well.
Here are some suggestions which may help you to eat after chemo:
- Small frequent meals or snacks can be easier to manage than large meals.
- Having your main meal at lunchtime can help as you may find you are too tired in the evening.
- Accept offers of help with preparing food and meals.
- Dont worry about using ready meals or ready prepared foods, they are fine in the short term.
- If you cook a meal try to make a larger portion and freeze the rest for days when you may feel more tired than usual.
How Do You Perform A Palate Cleanse When Cooking During Cancer Treatment
Palate Cleansing is very easy. Simply add a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar and an equal amount of sugar to whatever recipe you are cooking. The sugar masks the taste and flavor of the vinegar, but still allows it to work its magic in your recipe. You know you have the right amount of vinegar when the recipe is lighter, but NOT sour or altered in taste and flavor.
In addition to vinegar, fresh herbs like Italian flat leaf parsley, basil, and cilantro are great palate cleansers when cooking as well. Simply chop them up fresh and add them to the top of your recipe before breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Citrus juice can also be added as a palate cleanser. Simply squeeze the citrus fruit over the dish before serving. Take care not to cook the citrus juice into the recipe or it could lose its effect.
As you can see, with a few simple tricks, combating metallic taste when eating and cooking can be a breeze!
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S To Help Manage Taste Changes
Fortunately, there are steps you may be able to take to meet your nutritional needs and reduce the impact of taste changes on your quality of life.
Keep your doctor informed. Your body needs nutrition, especially when undergoing rigorous cancer treatment. If you find that changes in taste and smell are limiting your food intake or causing significant weight loss, be sure to let your doctor know. Your care team may recommend ways to increase your calorie intake, such as through vitamin and mineral supplementation and protein shakes.
Practice good oral hygiene. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy may disrupt the bacteria balance in the mouth and irritate the taste buds. Keeping your mouth clean and healthy helps food taste better. Gently brush your teeth, gums and tongue with a soft bristled toothbrush in the morning, before and after meals, and before bedtime. Choose a mild-tasting, non-abrasive toothpaste with fluoride.
Rinse your mouth frequently. Rinsing may help prevent infections, improve the healing of mouth sores, and neutralize bad tastes in the mouth. Try rinsing with a mild solution of water, baking soda and salt before meals. If this works temporarily, repeat the rinse halfway through a meal.
Eat small, frequent meals. Instead of three large meals a day, try to eat small, frequent meals six to eight times per day. To add calories and nutrients in between meals, eat healthy snacks throughout the day.
If Foods Have A Strong Smell:
- Cover drinks with a lid, and drink with a straw.
- Avoid stuffy rooms and use a kitchen fan when cooking.
- Sit near an open window for fresh air.
Biggs encourages patients to keep experimenting until they find foods and liquids they can tolerate.
Its important to make every bite count, she says. Eating well during cancer treatment can help you feel better and keep up your strength and energy.
With background from Oncology Nutrition the BC Cancer Agency
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Metallic Taste As A Side
Metallic taste is a common side-effect of chemotherapy and radiation. Many patients experience taste changes during and after treatment, that are often described as metallic. Metallic taste can make even your favorite foods taste unpleasant. This can lead to loss of appetite, interfere with healthy eating habits, and cause inadequate nutrient intake.
What Causes A Metallic Taste In Your Mouth
If you ingest products containing metal, such as supplements, you may notice a metallic taste in your mouth. This sensation may also be the result of other issues, including allergies and nerve damage.
A metallic taste in your mouth is a type of taste disorder. The medical term for this taste disorder is dysgeusia.
Causes can range from something as harmless as the vitamins you take to serious neurological conditions.
The unpleasant taste can develop suddenly or over longer periods of time.
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Ways To Prevent Metallic Taste In Mouth
For the most part, there is little you can do to prevent that metallic taste in your mouth. However, there are ways you can mask the metallic taste, which may help while you wait for it to go away. Here are some helpful ways you can reduce or temporarily eliminate the taste distortion:
- Try to brush your teeth after every meal
- Use nonmetallic cookware/utensils
- Chew sugar-free gum or mints
- Try different foods, spices, and seasonings
- Try not to smoke cigarettes
How To Treat A Metallic Taste In The Mouth From Chemo
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth which can also influence how you feel about food. While the presence of a dry mouth can also cause taste changes as you need saliva to taste food.
Here are some suggestions which can help with a metallic taste in the mouth:
- Drink plenty of fluids, you may find it helpful to have a glass of water with your meals and to carry a water bottle with you throughout the day.
- Eating cold or warm foods may be more palatable than hot.
- Use wooden or bamboo cutlery if you have a metallic taste in your mouth.
- If you find meat tastes different and disagreeable, try using a marinade.
- Adding more seasoning, spice and herbs can help make food more interesting if you have a loss of taste, provided you dont have a sore mouth. On the other hand, some people find that bland foods taste better.
- Keep trying different foods gradually as your taste will improve over time.
- Oral hygiene is important so brush your teeth regularly and use a gentle mouthwash. Try using a childrens toothpaste if you find that you are sensitive to your usual toothpaste.
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How Do I Get Rid Of After Taste
Cinnamon Powder & Organic Honey
- Take 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder and 1 teaspoon of organic, raw honey.
- Blend both the ingredients properly.
- Keep the paste on your tongue for 10 minutes.
- Rinse the mouth completely.
- Do this two times a day at least for a month or two to get rid of metallic taste in the mouth.
How Does It Work?
Cinnamon: This spice stick can do amazing wonders when it comes to health. It exhibits anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, soothing, anti-flatulent, and carminative properties. This herbal stick is a good source of iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and potassium. Its pungent smell plays a key role in activating the taste buds. Also, other compounds that help in getting rid of the metallic taste in the mouth include ethyl cinnamate, cinnamaldehyde, linalool, methyl chavicol, and beta-caryophyllene.
Honey: Raw honey is yet another ingredient that helps in stimulating the taste buds. It has enormous amounts of polyphenols and flavonoids that function as active antioxidants. These together help in removing the bad, iron taste that comes with dysgeusia.
The Remedy is Not Good, If:
- You have severe mouth ulcers.
- You have sores in the mouth.
- You are consuming it.
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Taste Changes And Nausea Vomiting Decreased Appetite And Dry Mouth
Statistically significant relationships were found when associations between taste changes and nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and dry mouth were investigated. Patients who were bothered by having no sense of taste at all had higher ratings for how much they had noticed a dry mouth than did other patients . Patients with a bothersome bitter taste reported higher ratings for how much they had noticed a decreased appetite than did other patients . Patients who were bothered by a sour taste had higher ratings for how much they had noticed nausea than did other patients as well as higher ratings for how much they had noticed a decreased appetite and higher ratings for how much they had noticed a dry mouth .