Disorders of smell: what foods should be favored to rediscover the pleasure of eating?

The smell plays a key role in our ability to enjoy food, demonstrates a new study from Aarhus University. Many people suffer from a lost, altered or distorted sense of smell, which can affect both their health and their quality of life, concludes the Danish study published on June 30. “Losing your sense of smell or seeing it distorted affects more than your cooking and eating habits. The decrease in the pleasure of eating and its social consequences are very important for patients and often have serious consequences on their quality of life”, explains Alexander Wieck Fjældstad, associate professor, MD and author of the study recently published in the scientific journal “Food”.

The study was conducted in the form of a questionnaire in which 692 people participated. 271 of them had lost or had a reduced sense of smell (olfactory dysfunction), 251 had a distorted sense of smell (parosmia) and 166 were in a control group. “Patients have expressed a desire to finish the kitchen as quickly as possible. They find cooking is not as enjoyable an activity as it used to be, they are less interested in cooking for others and have lost the desire to try new foods explains Alexander Wieck Fjældstad. The study also demonstrates that these dysfunctions of the sense of smell can have harmful consequences for health since 39% of patients suffering from severe olfactory disorders also lost a lot of weight.

What foods can help restore the pleasure of eating?

Fortunately, the Danish study offers solutions that would stimulate patients to rediscover the pleasure of eating. Scientists explain how foods with different tastes, textures and mouthfeel can increase a patient’s eating pleasure. In particular, they demonstrated that when an odor of food released in the oral cavity is not intercepted by the olfactory receptors of the nose, it is possible to ccompensate with other senses. “Patients find cooking difficult, but the study can help because it clarifies which ingredients are unpleasant or pleasant when your sense of smell is distorted,” explains Alexander Wieck Fjældstad. According to the researchers, here are the ingredients to favor for patients who have a distorted sense of smell and taste:

  • dried fruits;
  • chilli;
  • menthol;
  • rapeseed oil.

These foods are good alternatives because the feel they provide in the mouth helps provide sensory stimuli when the sense of smell fails.

On the other hand, the study details the foods to avoid in case of impaired sense of smell because their consumption is very unpleasant when the aroma is not present.

  • coffee ;
  • the mushrooms ;
  • butter ;
  • ginger ;
  • black pepper;
  • toasted bread.

This unprecedented study was greatly anticipated when around 65% of the more than 300 million patients with Covid-19 worldwide have lost their sense of smell. The study recalls that for more than half of these patients, the loss or distortion may be long term.

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