Unlocking the Secrets of Your Sense of Smell: Part 8

Though we often imagine our taste buds as the center of taste perception,Unlocking the Secrets of Your Sense of Smell: Part 8 Articles the human nose—not the tongue—is the main organ of taste as well as smell. While our taste buds help us to distinguish between substances that are sweet, sour, bitter and salty, it is our olfactory receptors (remember those five or six million yellowish cells called the olfactory epithelium) that distinguish all other “Elf bars near me.”

Little wonder, then, that when we have a stuffy nose our favourite foods seem to lack their delicious flavour. Hence, if you’re suffering from the symptoms of the “common cold” and find yourself wondering why your beloved out-of-the-way restaurant’s food just doesn’t taste up to par, it may not be that the restaurant has changed chefs. It may be instead that your plugged nose cannot smell the complex blend of aromas that make up its “flavour.”

While you may be already familiar with why your food lacks its flavour when you are suffering from a cold, what you may not know is that your ability to smell aromas has a significant impact on your ability to lose weight. In “The Use of Flavor to Enhance Efficacy of Reducing Diets,” Susan Schiffman claims that diets which are low in both flavour variety and intensity are more apt to fail in the long run than those with a wide variety and high intensity of flavour because they fail to satisfy the basic needs of overweight people—their need for flavour. It may be that many overweight people don’t necessarily crave fat; they just have a “high flavour threshold.” Individuals seeking to lose weight should introduce a variety of foods and flavour enhancers to their diets that will heighten their sensory experiences.

Her study concludes that overweight individuals can become satisfied with smaller quantities of food so long as they receive the taste that they desire. Though we may have eaten a nutritious meal, if it hasn’t satisfied our “taste buds,” we may still feel hungry, claiming that our food just didn’t “hit the spot.”

Your Metabolism, Appetite and Aromatic Food—the Connection

Did you know that exposure to aromatic food has been shown to contribute to the metabolism of foods that we eat? It’s true! Exposure to mouth-watering aromas, in fact, increases our saliva production and stimulates our digestive tracts which in turn encourages efficient metabolism of the food we eat. In short, exposure to food aromas actually increases our bodies’ absorption of nutrients.

Have you ever thought that you weren’t hungry and then walk into a bakery where fresh bread is baking and notice that you instantly have an appetite? Or how many times have you gone to the grocery store to pick up “a few items” and find yourself putting a few freshly-baked croissants, muffins, or buns into your basket as you walk past the bakery section? It isn’t just a coincidence that all hotdog venders fry their onions beside a fan or an open window—they want your business and they know how to get it. Food aromas are simply Mother Nature’s way of ensuring that we receive our proper nutrients. Aromas from savoury and sweet foods not only ensure the proper metabolism of the foods we eat but they also ensure that we eat.

But did you know that an over exposure to food can have the opposite effect on our appetites?

It’s true. While an exposure to foods can stimulate our appetites, an extended exposure to foods can cause us to lose our appetites. Simply speaking, an extended exposure to various aromas may in itself satisfy our appetite for food, even if we haven’t had anything to eat!

How many of us can remember spending an entire morning in the kitchen preparing for a large family meal only to find that when we finally sit down to enjoy the benefits of our hard work we no longer have an appetite? Bakers, restaurant employees and individuals working in plants where food is being prepared often experience this same sensation and report that after a long shift they do not feel as hungry as one would otherwise expect. In fact, the last thing they feel like doing is eating.

So while a lack of exposure can make us forget to eat, an overexposure can make us not want to eat. Where our noses are concerned, it is possible to get too much of a good thing.

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