Imagine: your favorite meal tastes very different from one day to the next. In the Netherlands, 5% to 20% of people have to deal with a reduced sense of smell and/or taste. This has different causes, such as a cold, flu or an accident. Until now little was known about the effects of smell loss on eating behavior and brain activity of patients. Elbrich Postma of Wageningen University has been researching this in in her PhD project.
Her research showed that patients with smell loss eat just as well according to the Dutch Dietary Guidelines as the average Dutch person. However, patients with congenital smell loss, who had been unable to smell all their lives, preferred food products with a stronger flavor component. Postma also investigated the effects of smell loss on the brain. To this aim, patients with smell loss underwent an MRI scan while smelling odors. While the patients reported that they did not smell anything, the patients' brains did react to these odors. This offers perspective for the treatment of patients with smell loss.