Does the Smell of Food Satisfy all the Senses and Internal Organs?

From a young age, we are taught that the nose is the one and only receptor for smells scents. Warner Brothers’ cartoons often depict waves of smell being sucked towards and up the nose of the comic heroes. Excited youngsters make physical and audible inhalations to experience the smells emitted by the cooking of their mothers or other loved ones. However, new studies suggest that the heart, lungs and even the blood can smell the food that we enjoy.

A number of other cells in the body share the receptors designed to sense odours that exist in the nose. These latest revelations have been presented to the American Chemical Society’s meeting in New Orleans.

Peter Schieberle, food chemistry and technology specialist at the Technical University of Munich has revealed:

“Our team recently discovered that blood cells – not only cells in the nose – have odorant receptors.” In the nose, these so-called receptors sense substances called odorants and translate them into an aroma that we interpret as pleasing or not pleasing in the brain.

“But surprisingly, there is growing evidence that also the heart, the lungs and many other non-olfactory organs have these receptors. And once a food is eaten, its components move from the stomach into the bloodstream. But does this mean that, for instance, the heart ‘smells’ the steak you just ate? We don’t know the answer to that question.”

Olfactory receptors are docking ports in the nose for airborne chemical compounds that produce the smell of food and other substances. When the chemicals connect with the receptors, a chain of biochemical events that register in the brain as specific odours occurs.

Schieberle further discovered that attractive odorant compounds can lure blood cells towards odours. Certain odours attract human blood. So if you find yourself in your favourite restaurant and enjoying the smell, it may be a treat for the blood as much as it is a treat for the nose.

Restaurants that aspire to create a total sensory experience now have more senses to target. Intangible pleasures such as that derived from the consumption of a delicious meal have long been hard to verbalise and even understand. Personal tastes are impossible to justify and explain in a scientific manner; this discovery adds even more variables to the pallet of human taste.

Indian restaurants in particular take great pride in creating an atmosphere and experience that piques all of the senses. The rich tapestry of sounds, smells, tastes and sights that are inextricably linked to the country combine to create an experience that is unique to Indian culture. The fragrant aromas that linger under the nose as the delicate strains of Indian string music combine and contrast in a memorable melting pot.


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