During chemotherapy, there are a lot of changes taking place within the body and as with any form of cancer treatment, it does not come without its fair share of side effects, including the way in which patients perceive taste.
According to the American Cancer Society, side effects of chemotherapy include vomiting, nausea, pain of the mouth, tongue and throat and oral sores. Each of these, in addition to the many other side effects of treatment, can impact your ability to get the proper nutrition you need. On top of a loss of appetite, it may be difficult to swallow or digest certain foods, and dishes and meals that you once enjoyed may no longer be appealing.
What is "Metal Mouth"?
It may be hard to imagine that your go-to Mexican dish doesn't taste as palatable as it once did, but as NPR explained, chemotherapy drugs can change the way that food tastes. Known as "metal mouth," the way in which your taste buds react to the medication is generally adverse. It can cause zesty or spicy food to taste bland and make the salt and sugar in foods overpowering. Many patients also experience a metallic flavor when they eat.
Most chemotherapy medicines have a naturally bitter taste, researcher Beverly Cowart of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia explained to NPR. When they are administered into the patient's bloodstream during chemotherapy, these bitter medications also reach the mouth and thus, the saliva. Moreover, the treatment itself, while killing off cancerous cells, also kills off some of your taste cells. Combine all of these side effects and it's easy to understand how food may no longer be appealing. The good news, however, is that there are several ways to manage these changes in taste during chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy drugs have the potential to change the way you taste certain foods and drinks, often making them more metallic-tasting.
Tips for Coping with Changes in Flavor
There are a few ways to make eating more appealing again during chemotherapy. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, sticking with foods that are chilled or at room temperature can help reduce any adverse reactions. Not only will they taste better at these temperatures but they are less likely to have the hot aroma of cooked food that could upset your stomach or your taste buds. Seasoning with herbs and spices when food still doesn't taste good is also recommended.
Taking care of your oral hygiene can also help to improve the eating experience, noted the CTCA. Rinsing your mouth or chewing sugar-free mints or gum can help to alleviate dryness and metallic flavors on the tongue.
The CTCA also advised altering the taste of food when it becomes too sweet, bitter, salty or metallic. That is where the Miraburst® Miracle Berry comes into play. It has been shown to be successful at temporarily masking the metallic taste of food. These easy-melt fruit tablets temporarily change the way in which your taste buds discern any food or drinks that are overly sour, acidic or metallic-tasting. Altering the tastes of these foods for up to 90 minutes so that you can enjoy them without a bitter or metallic component, these fruit tablets give each spoonful a sweet and welcomed flavor.