As we age, we often worry about the declining functionality of our bodies, from our memories to our ability to run after our grandchildren. But something we don't often give much thought to is our sense of smell. That's too bad because it's fairly common for the sense of smell to decline with age. This can lead to decreased quality of life, as our sense of smell plays a major role in our perception of taste. And its loss can even be dangerous – imagine being unable to smell smoke or a gas leak.
Fortunately, there may be something you can do to protect this important sense as you age.
According to research published in The British Journal of Nutrition, what you eat may play a role in what you can smell. In particular, the researchers found that consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), found in nuts, fish, and butter, may help prevent a decrease in your ability to smell.
To determine this the researchers followed a group of participants ages 60 and older for five years. The researchers had them report on their dietary habits and also measured their sense of smell.
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By the end, 667 participants had completed the study. The researchers used the San Diego Odor Identification Test to evaluate the participants' olfactory function. Those who ate the most PUFAs were much less likely to experience olfactory impairment than those who ate the least. Those who ate the most PUFAs from nuts were 46% less likely to experience any olfactory impairment and 58% less likely to experience mild impairment than those who got few PUFAs from nuts. Those who got PUFAs from fish were 35% less likely to have any impairment and 50% less likely to have mild impairment than those who got few fish PUFAs. Those who ate both nuts and fish had the best results.
I've talked before about how beneficial these fatty acids are, and I'm glad to have another benefit to add to the list. I recommend that you eat nuts and fatty fish regularly. Try having fatty fish at least a few times a week and a handful of nuts every day. Just keep in mind that all those fatty acids do increase the calories in nuts, so don't go overboard.
If you don't like nuts or fish or simply want to get an extra boost of PUFAs without the calories that would come with snacking on nuts all day, give Advanced Bionutritionals Complete Daily Oils a try. This product is a blend of both fish- and plant-based oils, so you'll be covered.
And the next time you smell something disagreeable let it serve to remind you to be thankful. You'd certainly be a lot more frustrated if you couldn't smell it at all!
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD