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Dec 3, 2009

Improve Your Sense of Smell

There are many reasons you may wish to improve your sense of smell. For one thing, it's closely linked to your sense of taste. Try tasting food with your nose pinched! And in general, being able to smell the subtleties in the scent of a flower, or someone's skin, or autumn leaves, can offer a deeper dimension of enjoyment. Plus, did you know that the average human nose can detect nearly 10,000 distinct scents?

Pay more attention to what you already smell. People often say "use it or lose it" about muscles, but the same can be applied towards senses. The more you use your senses, the better you get! Learn how to describe smells. You might even want to keep an olfactory journal! For extra practice, have someone hold various things to your nose while you're blindfolded and see if you can identify the smells.Note how certain smells make you feel. The nerves that sense smell are directly connected to the emotional part of your brain, leaving your rationality out of the equation. Studies found, for example, that the smell of fast food wrappers, fresh bread or pastry increase the likelihood of road rage; peppermint and cinnamon improve concentration and decrease irritability in drivers; and lemon and coffee promote clear thinking and high concentration levels in general. Avoid foods that cause excess mucus production. Have you ever noticed that your sense of smell fades, or perhaps completely disappears, when you have a cold? Congestion in the membranes in the nose that contain the smell-sensitive nerve endings can dull your ability to smell, and avoiding foods that promote stuffiness (milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream) might help. The way this affects taste is that there is a channel from the back of your throat to the sensory cells in your nose. If this channel is blocked by any kind of congestion, your ability to taste food will be affected. Avoid substances that can impair your sense of smell. Some cold remedies can make you lose your sense of smell, such as a few Zicam intranasal products warned against by the FDA. Smoking can also interfere with your sense of smell. Keep alcohol to a minimum, as your sense of smell is impaired as your blood alcohol levels rise.

Get more zinc in your diet. Hyposmia (the medical term for an impaired sense of smell) is often linked with a deficiency in the mineral zinc. To boost your sense of smell, try eating zinc-rich foods (oysters, lentils, sunflower seeds, pecans) and take a multivitamin that contains at least 7 mg of zinc each day. Exercise. Studies suggest that our sense of smell is sharper after exercise so here's yet another reason to stay fit! Use a humidifier. Increased moisture in the air leads to increased moisture in your nose, which improves the sense of smell. Stay away from stink. Prolonged exposure to bad smells tends to numb your ability to smell. When trying to identify a smell, take short, shallow sniffs rather than one long one. You will notice cats and dogs do this when they are initially smelling something. It increases your ability to pick up a scent.

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