Ozempic Can Improve Taste Buds

Often, the reason we advise caution around newer drugs is that we don’t know all of the side effects. It takes years to fully understand what medications do to the body. Semaglutide — sold under the brand names Ozempic and Wegovy — is relatively new to the market. While it benefits many people, we don’t know all its impacts. Some side effects that are being discovered are good, but others are not.

We know that semaglutide lowers blood sugar. It also reduces appetite and slows digestion. Because of that, people on it tend to eat less. They are fuller for longer. But there is still a lot we don’t know.  

New research has found that semaglutide may improve women’s taste sensitivity, especially to sweet flavors. When people taste things more intensely, it’s more satisfying. That can lead to them eating less overall.

A 16-week study used female volunteers. Half were given a placebo. The others were given samaglutide. Their taste sensitivity was tested with flavor strips. Some cells from their tongues were collected to test gene expression. They also had MRI scans before and after eating dessert after a meal.

The study showed that semaglutide boosted taste sensitivity in women with obesity. They could taste things at much lower doses.

Some people with obesity have low sweetness perception. That can cause them to crave sweeter, more calorie-dense foods. This discovery could explain why semaglutide is so beneficial: if people taste more sweetness, they are satisfied more easily and aren’t fighting cravings.

The study only had 30 participants, all women. While 16 weeks is a long enough time to get clear results, that is a small group.

As the research was performed in a lab setting, Dr. Mojca Jensterle Sever, who led the study, said the results “may not reflect everyday experience.”

Dr. Jensterle Sever explained that tasting our food clearly helps our brain recognize what we’re eating. “[Taste] conveys important information about the perceptual quality and an appetitive and hedonic value of the ingested substances,” she said.

When people taste their food clearly, the brain makes subconscious decisions about what and how much they eat. When you can taste the sweetness in something, your brain is satisfied faster, and you want less of it.

Semaglutide has many benefits. We are continually learning more about it. However, there are still many unknowns about the medication. Before adding anything to your routine, be sure to do your research and discuss all your options with your doctor.

Banner image: Nikolaos Dimou via Pexels

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