Most of us can’t imagine living without our sight. Completely losing our hearing sounds like a nightmare for many folks. And if forced to choose one of our senses to lose, the majority of us would likely go with smell.
But it turns out your nose might be able to sniff out a lot more than what is for dinner. Because there’s mounting evidence that if your sense of smell starts to fade it could be a red flag you’re losing something else too.
And according to researchers, looking out for this strange early warning sign for dementia could reveal the problem LONG before it starts affecting your everyday life.
Which means you may be able to start to turn things around before it’s too late.
Could your sniffer help stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks?
In one study, seniors took a smell test involving 12 different scents…
- paint thinner
Researchers then tracked the volunteers for an average of three and a half years. And what they found was stunning.
The seniors who had NO signs of memory loss but couldn’t sniff out the difference between say a banana and gasoline were 2.2 times more likely to develop memory problems in the years following.
And the folks who were already starting to show some memory problems were far more likely to develop Alzheimer’s if their noses did a poor job distinguishing between the different smells.
In other words, their sense of smell was able to predict whether they would suffer from memory problems.
It wasn’t a fluke either.
How your sense of smell could sniff out dementia
Another scratch-and-sniff study, conducted at McGill University confirmed the strange connection between our sense of smell and dementia.
In that study, researchers asked seniors at a higher risk for dementia to identify a variety of distinct smells that most of us could recognize easily such as bubble gum and lemon.
The folks who had to most trouble naming the smells had the most Alzheimer’s-linked proteins in their cerebrospinal fluid when tested.
And yet another study, this time conducted at the University of Chicago, made the connection. Volunteers took a whiff of five different scents…
And those folks who were unable to name four out of the five scents correctly were TWICE as likely to have developed dementia within five years.
Nearly all of the participants who couldn’t identify even one of the smells had dementia. And 80 percent who could only pick out one or two did.
As strange as the connection between your nose and Alzheimer’s might seem it turns out there’s a good reason for it. The part of your brain that houses your sense of smell… and your ability to remember specific scents… is one of the first areas dementia targets.
If you’re worried about your own sense of smell, make an appointment to talk with your doc about your dementia risk. And in the meantime adopt some brain-friendly habits such as keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range, getting regular exercise, and committing to getting quality sleep night after night.
And don’t forget to FEED your brain too with plenty of vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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