Nasty cold. Started yesterday with random, escalating bouts of sneezing, watery eyes, and drips.
This made me think (hope) this morning: one of the few benefits of colds–one that gets progressively more tedious as it goes on–is that they really blunt my sense of smell. Blunted sense of smell means I lose interest in food, because what’s the point if you can’t smell it?
And that, in turn, got me wondering whether there has been any research on the link between acuity of smell and appetite. Here’s my thinking:
I have a Super Nose. As in, I can detect scents no one else can, identify components in complex scents– you know the legendary preggo nose? Well, mine is like that ALL THE TIME (and when I was actually preggo, it was so bad that… well, let’s just say that it was awkward.)
And, I like me some food.
So I Googled around (’cause that’s what we call “research”) and here’s what I found:
1. Two studies have found a link between a particular gene and both obesity and an acute sense of smell:
Overweight subjects tended to be better at picking up food smells than thinner people, especially if they’d just eaten. Study author Dr. Lorenzo Stafford says, “It could be speculated that for those with a propensity to gain weight, their higher sense of smell for food related odours might actually play a more active role in food intake.” It makes a certain amount of sense — smell is intimately related to taste, and people who are better able to smell food might have greater appetites.
2. Another article discusses various products, some designed to promote satiety (and so slow down overeating, like Sensa) and some to BLUNT the sense of smell (which is what I am talking about):
“Eighty percent of what you perceive as taste is actually smell,” said Christopher Adams, a molecular biologist and the company’s founder. “The hypothesis is that if we can alter your sense of smell we can make food less palatable, because the hedonic effect — that is, the pleasurable effect you get from eating chocolate — won’t be there.”
3. Another discusses the need to be aware of the detriment of loss of sense of smell on appetite in the elderly (due to various factors including medications):
NIH reports that taste, which is part of a chemical sensing system, is mainly recognized through the sense of smell. If you hold your nose while eating, you will have a hard time identifying exactly what you are eating because you lack the odor associated with the food. This is the same reason why food seems tasteless when you have a cold or stuffy nose.“Having a sense of smell is essential for appetite stimulation.”