New research links bad diet to loss of smell

nose
Image: Wikipedia.

Could stuffing yourself full of high-fat foods cause you to lose your sense of smell?

A new study from Florida State University neuroscientists says so, and it has researchers taking a closer look at how our diets could impact a whole range of human functions that were not traditionally considered when examining the impact of obesity.

"This opens up a lot of possibilities for obesity research," said Florida State University post-doctoral researcher Nicolas Thiebaud, who led the study examining how high-fat foods impacted smell.

Thiebaud led the study in the lab of Biological Science Professor Debra Ann Fadool. Their work is published in the Journal of Neuroscience and shows that a high-fat diet is linked to major structural and functional changes in the olfactory system, which gives us our .

It was the first time researchers had been able to demonstrate a solid link between a bad diet and a .

The research was conducted over a six-month period where mice were given a high-fat daily diet, while also being taught to associate between a particular odor and a reward (water).

Mice that were fed the high-fat diets were slower to learn the association than the control population. And when researchers introduced a new odor to monitor their adjustment, the mice with the high-fat diets could not rapidly adapt, demonstrating reduced smell capabilities.

"Moreover, when high-fat-reared mice were placed on a diet of control chow during which they returned to normal body weight and blood chemistry, still had reduced olfactory capacities," Fadool said. "Mice exposed to high-fat diets only had 50 percent of the neurons that could operate to encode odor signals."

For Thiebaud and his colleagues, the results are opening up a whole new line of research. They will begin looking at whether exercise could slow down a high-fat diet's impact on smell and whether a high-sugar diet would also yield the same negative results on smell as a high-fat .

Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study comes at an important time with obesity rates at all-time highs throughout the world. According to the NIH, more than two in three adults in the United States are considered to be overweight or obese. Additionally, about one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A protein could be a key weapon in the battle of the bulge

Apr 01, 2014

More than one-third of people in the US are obese. Obesity and its related health problems—including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, insulin resistance, and belly fat—affect so many, yet effective treatments ...

Chronic intake of Western diet kills mice

Jun 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—When Cornell researchers fed high-fat Western diets to mice engineered without key immune system receptors to recognize pathogens, the mice died from lethal lung damage.

Recommended for you

Myelin vital for learning new practical skills

Oct 16, 2014

New evidence of myelin's essential role in learning and retaining new practical skills, such as playing a musical instrument, has been uncovered by UCL research. Myelin is a fatty substance that insulates ...

Reminiscing can help, not hinder, some mind-bending tasks

Oct 16, 2014

To solve a mental puzzle, the brain's executive control network for externally focused, goal-oriented thinking must activate, while the network for internally directed thinking like daydreaming must be turned down to avoid ...

Bio-X scientists develop decoy drug to aid ailing brain

Oct 16, 2014

A team of Stanford Bio-X scientists has restored the ability of adult mice to form new connections in the brain. If the finding works in people, it has the potential to help adults recover from stroke and ...

User comments