A new study on mice found a surprising element which might play a significant role in weight loss or gain. According to this research, the sense of smell can influence how much weight a mouse, in this case, puts on after eating, no matter the meal’s calories.
This study comes from University of California, Berkeley researchers. Their results are available in a paper in Cell Metabolism.
Sense of Smell to Help Lose Weight, or Gain it
Research involved several groups of mice, some of which were leaner, the others being rather fat. Nonetheless, all of these rodents followed the same diet, a high in fats one. Some of the mice were used as a control group and were simply fed with such foods.
Another group saw the mice’s sense of smell temporarily turned off. This was achieved thanks to gene therapy, which temporarily zapped their olfactory neurons that grew back some weeks later.
These now smell-deficient mice were put on the same diet but did not start gaining weight. Namely, the researchers noted a change in the mice’s beige fat cells, which are used to store fat in the body.
These seemingly turned into brown fat cells which, in contrast, help burn up fatty acids. Also, the rodents’ white fat cells started getting smaller. These type of cells, which also store fat, can lead to health issues thanks, in part, to their being around internal organs.
The researchers summarized this effects as a dialing up of the mice’s sympathetic nervous system, which helps increase fat burning.
In contrast, in the control group, the mice gained around 100 percent their original weight. Rodents with not sense of smell gained a maximum of ten percent in weight.
For the fat to obese mice, losing their olfactory sense showed signs of starting to lose weight. At the same time, rodents deemed “super smeller”, gained even more weight than the others.
“If we can validate this in humans, perhaps we can actually make a drug that doesn’t interfere with smell but still blocks that metabolic circuitry. That would be amazing,” state the researchers.
Still, more research on the matter would still be needed before even trying to test such a method on humans.
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