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The Power of Two

Nose Digestion

Published August 26, 2014 2:44 PM by Eleanor Wolfram

The human body is equipped with 5 senses: sight, touch, hear, smell and taste. Our sense of smell as it relates to eating is important because it helps us enjoy the favor of food and drinks. As laboratory biologists we know that the sense of smell -- like the sense of taste -- is part of your chemosensory system, or the chemical senses.

Most people tend to think of digestion as consisting of only tasting, chewing, swallowing and the inner organs churning foods. However, digestion is really a two-part process: the first part being the intake of food, otherwise known as mechanical; and the second part, which the chemical digestion which begins when you smell food. Nerve impulses from your nose trigger the chemical release of enzymes and other substances that will eventually break down food to release the nutrients inside. So as you can see when eating, the smell sense is as vital as the senses for sight and taste.

The other day a news announcer stated that a team of Florida State University (FSU) neuroscientists have uncovered high-fatty diets foods may adversely affect the smelling sense, so much so that individuals to lose their sense of smell. This FSU study was reported to be the first of its kind to show a correlation between high-fat diets and a loss of smell.

Interestingly enough the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) addresses the impact and treatment of smell disorders. Statistics collected by this governmental agency reveal upwards of 2% of U.S. citizens report having problems with their sense of smell. NIDCD's website states that smell disorders cause noticeable parallel problems with the sense of taste as well.

Furthermore, the NIDCD website states that when a person's "smell is impaired some people change their eating habits. Some may eat too little and lose weight while others may eat too much and gain weight."

On another but similar note the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that the global obesity rates are high and increasing. NIH studies reveal that 2 in 3 adults are considered obese and an estimated one in three children and adolescents are considered obese and an estimated one in three children and adolescents are considered to be overweight.

The news story mentioned that as a result of the pioneering results from the high-fatty diet/lose of smell research, FSU and other private and governmental institutions most likely will examine the correlation between high-sugar diets and smell and whether or not exercise could slow down a high-fat diet's impact on smell.

posted by Eleanor Wolfram


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