Smell, nose
[REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE] An Indian girl has been reported to sneeze nearly 8,000 times a day.Dennis Wong/Flickr

A high-fat diet may damage your sense of smell, latest research reveals.

A team of neuroscientists from Florida State University in the US led by Nicolas Thiebaud conducted experiments on mice models and found that quality of diet can influence different functions of the body. In the study, consumption of poor diet led to major structural and functional changes in the animals' sensory system related to smell called olfactory system.

As part of their investigation, the researchers put a group of mice on a high fat diet for six months. During the same period, they also trained the animals to identify a particular odor related to a reward. However, the rodents on the high fat diet took more time to successfully get trained compared to those who were on a normal diet. Additionally, the animals also demonstrated reduced smell capabilities and showed difficulties in adapting a new odor. Most importantly, the damages caused by the poor diet were permanent and did not change after they stopped eating high fat diet and returned to normal weight.

"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, mice still had reduced olfactory capacities," Biological Science Professor Debra Ann Fadool, said in a news release. "Mice exposed to high-fat diets only had 50 percent of the neurons that could operate to encode odor signals."

As a next step, the researchers are planning to explore the power of exercise in minimizing this negative impact and also to examine the effects of a high-sugar diet on smell.

Researchers expected that their study will help fight obesity. "This opens up a lot of possibilities for obesity research," Thiebaud said.

The study has been reported in the Journal of Neuroscience.

It is the specialized sensory cells inside the nose that help us to smell. Each neuron contains one odor receptor and is connected to the brain. The neurons detect even small molecules present in the environment and send messages to your brain, which identifies it. Hyposmia, anosmia, parosmia and phantosmia are some of the common smell disorders found in humans, according to the NIDCD (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders).

How It Happens- Some Common Causes

  • Habit of smoking
  • Due to different upper respiratory infections
  • Abnormal growths in the nasal cavities
  • Regular exposure to insecticides and solvents
  • Any major injury to the head
  • Various dental conditions
  • Radiation therapy as part of cancer treatment
  • Neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's disease