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Is it possible to gain weight from the sight or smell of food? Straight course is impossible. But the smell and appearance of food affect us very significantly, affecting fat loss and dietary habits. Changing eating behaviour may increase calorie intake – and even then we really will gain weight.

The olfactory system in humans, though considerably lost its sensitivity, however, significantly influences our behavior and preferences. Apart from the smell, similar effect have the thoughts, fantasies about food and looking at images of high-calorie food (Ghrelin levels increase after pictures showing food Obesity (Silver Spring). 12 January 2012, doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.385.). About digital saturation and food porn I wrote earlier here: https://www.beloveshkin.com/2018/03/Sverhnormalnyiy-stimul-food-porno.html

Is it possible to gain weight from the sight or smell of food?

  • Smell and fat burning.
  • The smell and life expectancy.
  • Smell and insulin in humans.

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Smell and fat burning.

And today we talk about the smell. The smell of food is useful in that it can raise the appetite, stimulate the sensory saturation, switch us to the meal. Therefore, for a healthy diet it is important to saturate your eyes and nose with the sight and smell of food. This will help you to have more fun, develop the taste, to consume less calories – this is the criteria of a healthy diet.

However, when a good thing becomes excessive, it begins to hurt. And the smell of food – it is established that even in the absence of food odour is sufficient to activate signaling mechanisms associated with food intake.

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The smell activates the IGF-1, signalling, activates mTOR, alters the activity in Agrp and POMC neurons of the hypothalamus, affects the sympathetic nervous system, suppresses the activity of brown fat, reduces fat burning and increases appetite. Similar effects are implemented on a long-term ongoing basis, have a serious impact.

The results of the researches prove the important link between the olfactory system and brain areas that regulate metabolism. For us this practically means that in the absence of the smell derived from food calories are burned much more active.

At the top of the mouse with a hypersensitive sense of smell, at the bottom is reduced.

In one study we compared a group of mice with removed olfactory neurons, mice with a normal sense of smell and are extremely sensitive to the smells of the mouse. This effect is most strongly realized when feeding on food with high caloric density. So, three months on a normal diet without the mouse olfactory scored quite a bit. But the transition to a fatty diet caused dramatic consequences.

All animals were fed with the same amount of calories. It turned out that the first group scored 10% excess fat, a second group recovered more than half, and the thickest were the most sensitive to the smells of the mouse. On mice found that the smell of food affects digestion and fat burning, and these processes are not associated with the number of actual food eaten.

Interestingly, in mice with a bad smell, white fat efficiently converted to brown faster and therefore burned. Do not feel the smell of mice strongly increased the levels of the hormone noradrenalin, which probably was associated with an increased fat burning. Locomotor activity was comparable in all groups (Cell Metab. 2017 Jul 5;26(1):198-211.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.06.015. The Sense of Smell Impacts Metabolic Health and Obesity)

Fat burning and smells.

The smell and life expectancy.

Smell reduces life expectancy and cancels the effects of calorie restriction. In the model of Caenorhabditis elegans proved that under the influence of tastes and odors, increased insulin levels, change the level of FOXO proteins.

Many other species of animals it was also shown that in nature the speed of aging depends, in particular, from the activity of sensory neurons. On flies the same effect works in a similar way. When you restrict calories smell reduces the life expectancy of 6-18%.

Smell and insulin in humans.

The same mechanism, which may be relevant to humans. Because we are under the influence of smell increases insulin levels, and the system IGF-1 signalling we have a very similar to the one that is in model animals. Yes, insulin in humans increases the smell of food (Sjostrom, L., Garellick, G., Krotkiewski, M., and Luyckx, A. (1980). Peripheral insulin in response to the sight and smell of food. Metabolism 29, 901-909.)

That is why the study’s authors believe that this mechanism is relevant to humans (Front. Genet., 18 October 2012 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2012.00218 Regulation of lifespan by chemosensory and thermosensory systems: findings in invertebrates and their implications in mammalian aging).

The mechanism of action of tastes and smells for a lifetime.


1. The smell of food is not just molecules in the air, and an important biological signal, which indicates the presence of food nearby and activates the metabolic signaling pathway.

2. An expanded understanding of “pure interval” – when not eating to not only eat, but also to avoid food stimuli (smells, advertising of food, chewing a number of colleagues, etc.).

3. Not worth it to drive thoughts about food or like dishes in social networks. This will only increase hunger and will damage your reward system of the brain.

4. Why is fasting is better in the desert? The complete absence of food triggers. Choose for unloading food situation free of food triggers.

5. Make the hood in the kitchen, don’t make the common kitchen, close the kitchen door, eat only in the kitchen or in the dining room.published econet.ru.


  • Food-derived sensory cues modulate longevity via distinct neuroendocrine insulin-like peptides.Murat Artan, Dae-Eun Jeong 2016 Genes & development DOI:10.1101/gad.279448.116
  • Regulation of C. elegans Longevity by Specific Gustatory and Olfactory Neurons Neuron 2004 DOI:10.1016/S0896-6273(03)00816-X
  • Science. 2007 Feb 23;315(5815):1133-7. Epub 2007 Feb 1. Regulation of Drosophila life span by olfaction and food-derived odors.
  • Translational Medicine of Aging Volume 1, 2017 October, Pages 41 To 51 Longevity control by the nervous system: Sensory perception, stress response and beyond
  • Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Aug;18(8):1552-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2010.26. Epub 2010 Feb 18. Insulin and hippocampus activation in response to images of high-calorie food in normal weight and obese adolescents.

Andrew Blueskin

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P. S. And remember, just changing your mind – together we change the world! © econet


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