Smelling your food makes you fat

Smelling your food makes you fat

The loss of a sense of smell seems to be a factor in preventing people from gaining weight, even if they eat fatty food, a new experiment conducted on mice concludes.

However the experts did not expect to find mice losing weight when they ate the same food as the smelling group.

The team also found that mice with a boosted sense of smell - super-smellers - got even fatter on a high-fat diet than did mice with normal smell.

The findings suggest that the odor of what we eat may play an important role in how the body deals with calories.

"Sensory systems play a role in metabolism". It was found that the rodents who could not smell lost around 16 per cent of their body weight, while the second group gained weight.

"This paper is one of the first studies that really shows if we manipulate olfactory inputs we can actually alter how the brain perceives energy balance, and how the brain regulates energy balance", said Celine Riera, a fellow at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles in the US.

A new study set out to specifically analyze the possible relationship between a mouse's sense of smell and its fat-burning capabilities.

"While searching for food, the body stores calories in case it's unsuccessful, but once the food is secured, the body feels free to burn it", Riera added.

There turned out to be differences in the two types of fat the mice carried: brown fat, which your body burns to generate heat; and white fat, which is stored for energy (and is the kind you pack on when you consume excess calories). The scientists gave them regular doses of the diphtheria toxin-which causes a temporary loss of odor-sensing neurons-to suppress their sense of smell.

The smell-deficient mice rapidly burned calories by up-regulating their sympathetic nervous system, which is known to increase fat burning. But if a recent research is to go by, sense of smell that helps in enjoying the food may be inadvertently making you fat. This suppressed the mice's sense of smell.

After Professor Dillin's team eliminated the sense of smell in one of those mice, its weight dropped by about a third, to 33 grams.

Two rodents were fed the same high-fat diet and became obese. What's more, while they had previously developed glucose intolerance (which leads to diabetes), they regained normal glucose tolerance when they lost the weight. Also, their bone mass, organs, or muscles were left unaffected.

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