Awareness about smell and taste disorder is needed

Gepubliceerd op
15 mei 2014

On 23 April the Nutrition Alliance organised the science meeting 'Food for Thought' on the topic 'smell and taste'. More than one hundred professionals gathered in Gelderse Vallei Hospital. Scientific findings and initiatives around setting up a smell and taste clinic later this year were shared.

In the context of 'Ede Hoofdstad van de Smaak 2014' (Ede, the capital of taste 2014) the municipality of Ede made it possible to follow the science meeting online live.

The presentation can be viewed via the YouTube channel of the Nutrition Alliance. Please note that all presentations were in Dutch.

Report of the Food for Thought 'smell and taste' evening

Kees de Graaf, Professor of Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour at Wageningen University presented an informative lecture on taste and smell, in which he explained that one can smell at least one trillion scents, whereas only five or six basic tastes can be distinguished. Both taste and smell have effects on eating behaviour, but both in different ways. Food odours cause increased appetite, whereas taste is involved in the perception of nutrients and plays an important role in saturation and meal termination.

Then, on behalf of the Dutch Association for Anosmia, Mieke Wakker told her impressive story. Her lack of smell and taste was not understood by doctors for a long time. She explained how a smell and taste disorder can have much impact on the quality of life. 'In addition it is simply inconvenient if you don't smell that the potatoes are burnt' Mieke Wakker explains. After 43 years she went to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist who was able to treat her and she regained her sense of smell. However, she says that it is not always positive to be able to smell again: 'odours are often too heavy and too much'.

Finally, Dr. Wilbert Boek, ENT specialist in Gelderse Vallei Hospital and researcher dr. Dieuwerke Bolhuis present the initiative to set up a smell and taste clinic. Some types of olfactory disorders are treatable, but in many cases treatment is not possible. However, people can often be helped by advice on nutrition and information about living with a smell or taste disorder. Currently, there is no clinic for this disorder in the Netherlands. This makes a nice opportunity and challenge for the nutrition hospital in Ede. Through Wageningen University, the hospital  has access to the facilities to measure brain activity with a 3T-MRI during smell or taste stimulation, using an olfactometer or gustometer, respectively. These measurements in people with olfactory or taste disorders are unique and will lead to many new insights according to Dr. Dieuwerke Bolhuis. From the audience, Kirsten Jaarsma, President of the Dutch Association for Anosmia, stressed the importance of a smell and taste clinic. ‘It meets a desire from society’, says Jaarsma.

After the break, the science meeting continued with live streaming. Researcher Dr. Sanne Boesveldt presented how smell plays a role in the desire to eat food and smell also plays a role during eating. In addition, various other studies were presented:

  • Smell and taste changes in IC patients;
  • Effects of Bariatric Surgery on the Reward Response in the Brain;
  • Changes of taste, smell and food preferences during chemotherapy in breast cancer patients.

Nutrition Alliance Gelderse Vallei

In the Nutrition Alliance, Gelderse Vallei Hospital, the Nutrition hospital, and Wageningen University collaborate for a healthier life through optimal nutrition. Collaboration on research and innovation is required in order to structurally approach issues in the field of nutrition in prevention and care. During the Food for Thought evening Diederic Klapwijk, President of the Nutrition Alliance and gynaecologist in Hospital Gelderse Vallei, sketched the themes for the upcoming years:

  • Healthy Start: improve nutritional status around pregnancy and early childhood.
  • Healthy Care: better condition by proper diet around (chronic) illness, including guidance.
  • Healthy Ageing: function maintenance to increase healthy life years and independence.

The Nutrition Alliance organises a Food for Thought evening twice a year, aiming to make the cooperation between Wageningen UR and Gelderse Vallei Hospital even more fruitful.