It's a depressing thought: having a good sense of smell might make you fatter. According to the article published by UC Berkley obese mice who lost their sense of smell also lost weight.
On the other hand, when mice that were genetically engineered to have a "super" sense of smell were tested, they gained more weight on a standard diet than the control group did.
The findings suggest that the odour of what we eat may play an important role in how the body deals with calories. Although both groups ate the same amount of food, the smell-deficient mice gained at most 10 percent more weight, while their normal counterparts gained around 100 percent of their regular weight. The lack of food smells could trick the body into thinking it's already eaten, so it burns calories instead of storing them.
The smell-deficient mice rapidly burned calories by up-regulating their sympathetic nervous system, which is known to increase fat burning.
The team noted that the mice turned their beige fat cells - the subcutaneous fat storage cells that accumulate around our thighs and midriffs - into brown fat cells, which burn fatty acids to produce heat. But if a recent research is to go by, sense of smell that helps in enjoying the food may be inadvertently making you fat.
But how is it possible to get fatter without eating more calories?
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On the negative side, the loss of smell was accompanied by a large increase in levels of the hormone noradrenaline, which is a stress response tied to the sympathetic nervous system.
Because the weight change was so substantial, Professor Dillin and colleagues created a second mouse model lacking a sense of smell. They ate the same amount, but the second batch lost more body weight; mainly fat.
"I never expected turning off smell would have such dramatic weight-loss effects", Dillin said.
The first mouse model was engineered to lose its olfactory sensory neurons, the cells that detect odors and relay the information into the brain, when given a certain drug. They then fed the rodents either a normal diet or fatty foods-the mouse equivalent of cheesecake and pizza-that usually induce obesity. The other mouse maintained a weight of around 49 grams. Also, their bone mass, organs, or muscles were left unaffected.
"It's one of the most interesting discoveries to come out of my lab".
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