Research Results Not to Be Sniffed At
I exercise at a gym that shares the same building as a grocery store. The store is closed at the time I choose to workout, however when the wind is right, the glorious smell of fresh baked bread indicates that the bakery staff is in full force. It is a good thing that the store is closed, otherwise, an occasional detour may occur between the parking lot and the gym doors. Instead, I guess I can be thankful that I am filling my nose with a wonderful aroma rather than my belly with unneeded calories. You can’t gain weight just from enjoying the smell of baking! Right? Well…You can file this article under “Y”, for “You’ve got to be kidding me!” While browsing through some recent health articles, I came across some interesting research that may result in a weight loss craze that involves a simple clothespin. Researchers from the University of California at Berkley performed experiments on mice that may indicate that smelling your food may cause you to gain weight. Their research, published in the June 2017 edition of Cell Metabolism, revealed that eliminating the sense of smell in mice actually lead to their weight loss. In the study, the smell-deficient mice ate just as much food as the ones with their sense of smell intact. Apparently, the sense of smell affects our metabolism more than it was thought to. The mice that could not smell also improved their insulin sensitivity. They were on the road to becoming diabetic as they were developing glucose intolerance. Getting rid of their ability to smell not only lead to weight loss but also helped them better manage their sugar and insulin levels.
Anticipating food, through smell, sight and even thought is enough to stimulate the insulin response. It is the body’s way of getting ready for the food that is to come.
What is the value in gaining this sort of knowledge? Does it mean obesity may be treated by removing almost every one of our senses? All of the senses that give us pleasure when it comes to food?
I don’t think we have to go that far. Maybe future obesity treatment will involve deadening the sense of smell for short periods of time. If it works for mice, maybe it will work for humans.
What I took away from this article was the fact that the body reacts to food well before it hits the stomach. We think about food…insulin. We smell food… insulin. We see food…insulin. We taste food….insulin. The insulin response, while necessary to process foods, can become a problem if it occurs too much and too often. This is how diabetes eventually occurs. Too much insulin response and too often. Maybe food has become too much a part of our lives over and above what it is intended to be, which is for sustenance only; food for fuel, as they say. Social media is full of tasty looking recipes. Television commercials advertise tantalizing foods. For the sake of my waistline it may be time I shut all these things off. Maybe I need to change where I work out. All food for thought (pun intended).