When you smoke, nicotine suppresses the nerve activity in the areas of the brain associated with taste. The chemical compounds in cigarettes interfere with both your sense of taste and smell by dulling the ability of your taste buds and olfactory cells to send the sensory messages to your brain. The bitter taste of the nicotine can also overwhelm your senses to the detriment of tasting other flavors.
The bad news is that this can create health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure beyond the obvious side effects of smoking, as smokers pour more and more sugar and salt on their foods in order to taste it. The good news is the process is reversible because taste buds and olfactory cells regenerate about every 10 days. If you stop smoking, you may notice a heightened sense of smell and taste within just a few days. Maybe it's time to wake up and smell -- and taste -- the coffee.
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King cake is as much a staple of Mardi Gras as the parades and beads. HowStuffWorks gets the story of this colorful cake, and the baby baked inside.