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Your sense of smell may be the key to a balanced diet

The food you ate just before your walk past the bakery may impact your likelihood of stopping in for a sweet treat – and not just because you’re full.

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Photo by Otto Norin from Unsplash.com

Walking past a corner bakery, you may find yourself drawn in by the fresh smell of sweets wafting from the front door. You’re not alone: The knowledge that humans make decisions based on their nose has led major brands like Cinnabon and Panera Bread to pump the scents of baked goods into their restaurants, leading to big spikes in sales.

But according to a new study, the food you ate just before your walk past the bakery may impact your likelihood of stopping in for a sweet treat – and not just because you’re full.

Scientists at Northwestern University found that people became less sensitive to food odors based on the meal they had eaten just before. So, if you were snacking on baked goods from a coworker before your walk, for example, you may be less likely to stop into that sweet-smelling bakery.

The study, “Olfactory perceptual decision-making is biased by motivational state,” was published August 26 in the journal PLOS Biology.

Smell regulates what we eat, and vice versa

The study found that participants who had just eaten a meal of either cinnamon buns or pizza were less likely to perceive “meal-matched” odors, but not non-matched odors. The findings were then corroborated with brain scans that showed brain activity in parts of the brain that process odors was altered in a similar way.

These findings show that just as smell regulates what we eat, what we eat, in turn, regulates our sense of smell.

Feedback between food intake and the olfactory system may have an evolutionary benefit, said senior and corresponding study author Thorsten Kahnt, an assistant professor of neurology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“If you think about our ancestors roaming the forest trying to find food, they find and eat berries and then aren’t as sensitive to the smell of berries anymore,” Kahnt said. “But maybe they’re still sensitive to the smell of mushrooms, so it could theoretically help facilitate diversity in food and nutrient intake.”

Kahnt said while we don’t see the hunter-gatherer adaptation come out in day-to-day decision-making, the connection between our nose, what we seek out and what we can detect with our nose may still be very important. If the nose isn’t working right, for example, the feedback loop may be disrupted, leading to problems with disordered eating and obesity. There may even be links to disrupted sleep, another tie to the olfactory system the Kahnt lab is researching.

Using brain imaging, behavioral testing and non-invasive brain stimulation, the Kahnt lab studies how the sense of smell guides learning and appetite behavior, particularly as it pertains to psychiatric conditions like obesity, addiction and dementia. In a past study, the team found the brain’s response to smell is altered in sleep-deprived participants, and next wanted to know whether and how food intake changes our ability to perceive food smells.

According to Laura Shanahan, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kahnt lab and the first and co-corresponding author of the study, there’s very little work on how odor perception changes due to different factors. “There’s some research on odor pleasantness”, Shanahan said, “but our work focuses in on how sensitive you are to these odors in different states.”

Pizza and pine; cinnamon and cedar

To conduct the study, the team developed a novel task in which participants were presented with a smell that was a mixture between a food and a non-food odor (either “pizza and pine” or “cinnamon bun and cedar” – odors that “pair well” and are distinct from each other). The ratio of food and non-food odor varied in each mixture, from pure food to pure non-food. After a mixture was presented, participants were asked whether the food or the non-food odor was dominant.

Participants completed the task twice inside an MRI scanner: First, when they were hungry, then, after they’d eaten a meal that matched one of the two odors.

“In parallel with the first part of the experiment running in the MRI scanner, I was preparing the meal in another room,” Shanahan said. “We wanted everything fresh and ready and warm because we wanted the participant to eat as much as they could until they were very full.”

The team then computed how much food odor was required in the mixture in each session for the participant to perceive the food odor as dominant. The team found when participants were hungry, they needed a lower percentage of food odor in a mixture to perceive it as dominant – for example, a hungry participant may require a 50% cinnamon bun to cedar mixture when hungry, but 80% when full of cinnamon buns.

Through brain imaging, the team provided further evidence for the hypothesis. Brain scans from the MRI demonstrated a parallel change occurring in the part of the brain that processes odors after a meal. The brain’s response to a meal-matched odor was less “food-like” than responses to a non-matched meal odor.

Applying findings to future sleep deprivation research

Findings from this study will allow the Kahnt lab to take on more complex projects. Kahnt said with a better understanding of the feedback loop between smell and food intake, he’s hoping to take the project full circle back to sleep deprivation to see if lack of sleep may impair the loop in some way. He added that with brain imaging, there are more questions about how the adaptation may impact sensory and decision-making circuits in the brain.

“After the meal, the olfactory cortex didn’t represent meal-matched food odors as much as food anymore, so the adaptation seems to be happening relatively early on in processing,” Kahnt said. “We’re following up on how that information is changed and how the altered information is used by the rest of the brain to make decisions about food intake.”

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Celebrating World School Milk Day by making milk safe and accessible to Filipino school children

Tetra Pak believes that attaining a sustainable future is anchored on initiatives protecting people and the planet. That is why alongside its efforts in ensuring safe nutrition for children, Tetra Pak is also helping promote sustainability in various communities by providing recycling training for teachers and students.

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In light of World Milk School Day, a global event celebrating the benefits and success of school milk programs, world-leading food processing and packaging solutions company, Tetra Pak, draws attention to the role of multi-stakeholder collaborations to sustainably address childhood nutrition by making fresh milk safe and accessible for everyone.

In the Philippines, Republic Act 11037 also known as an Act Institutionalizing a National Feeding Program for Undernourished Children in Public Day Care was a breakthrough development that mothered the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) of the Department of Education.

For the 2020-2021 School Year, it surpassed the target of providing nutritious food products and pasteurized or sterilized milk to 1.7 million beneficiaries from primary public school students in daycare, kindergarten, and elementary schools across the country. Despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, DepEd SBFP recorded an achievement rate of 183.46% for the milk component and  198.15% for the Nutritious Food Products (NFP) component for the 2020-2021 School Year.  

As the SBFP aims to reach more schoolchildren and communities, RFM Corporation, a home-grown food and beverage leader, highlights the advantages of using UHT milk or milk that went through Ultra High-Temperature pasteurization, thus is safer and has a longer shelf life. This is an important feature considering infrastructure challenges and the lack of refrigeration to distribute the milk in far-flung areas.

Tetra Pak has been helping RFM Corporation deliver Selecta Kids Fortified Milk in Tetra Wedge® Aseptic 200ml Slim, a carton package that protects both the nutritional value and the taste of the milk for up to 12 months. Introduced in 2021, so that children in various parts of the country could have access to safe nutrition, Tetra Wedge® Aseptic Slim uses aseptic technology to ensure that the packaging materials and product inside it are free from harmful bacteria. Like all Tetra Pak carton packages, it’s made of renewable materials and recyclable paperboard, making it one of the best ways to feed the future sustainably.

According to Ms. Marie Concepcion-Young, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Consumer Group of RFM Corporation, “Milk help school kids reach their physical and cognitive potential. Aside from making it accessible, it is imperative that the milk stays fresh and safe even as we transport it to hard-to-reach areas or those with limited storage facilities.” 

During the first phase of SBFP Milk Component, Selecta Kids Fortified Milk in Tetra Wedge® Aseptic 200ml Slim was delivered to schools in Bicol, Davao, and Soccsksargen regions benefitting 359,557 school children. Tetra Pak together with Tetra Laval Food for Development is likewise providing practical support where they share best practices in school milk programs organization and implementation, as well as providing environmental education.

“For decades, we have been working with our customers and relevant stakeholders to support school feeding programs around the world because we believe these are effective in addressing poor health and nutrition in disadvantaged communities,” said Michael Wu, Managing Director, Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Indonesia.

He adds that “We are committed to making food safe and available, everywhere.  That is why we make sure that school children get all the goodness of milk to have the energy to stay in school and get that brain boost they need for learning.”

Tetra Pak believes that attaining a sustainable future is anchored on initiatives protecting people and the planet. That is why alongside its efforts in ensuring safe nutrition for children, Tetra Pak is also helping promote sustainability in various communities by providing recycling training for teachers and students.

“Whether it is addressing food availability or environmental concerns, we believe that real, lasting impact in society can be achieved if stakeholders work together,” Wu concludes.

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The Bellevue Resort leads international coastal cleanup #SeaTheChange in Bohol

The Bellevue Resort – Bohol is a two-time ASEAN Green Hotel awardee, proudly a leader for sustainability.

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More than half a thousand volunteers from local organizations and private sectors, including frontliners, professionals, employees, students, divers, and many more gathered together to collect and segregate an estimated 1,713 kg of non-biodegradable waste at the recently concluded 37th International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) day hosted by The Bellevue Resort in Doljo Beach, Panglao, Bohol.

The Bellevue Resort – Bohol is a two-time ASEAN Green Hotel awardee, proudly a leader for sustainability. This eco-friendly five-star hotel has consistently spearheaded meaningful initiatives for responsible tourism in Bohol since its opening in 2012. Today the resort continues to head and take part in various efforts to promote environmental protection and conservation in the Philippines.

To know more about the resort, visit www.thebellevuebohol.com.

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5 Affordable and simple ways everyone can be an eco warrior

Understanding that collective effort is the way to go, retail giant SM Supermalls is committed to helping all Filipinos make more environmentally friendly choices in every aspect of their life.

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From changing weather patterns to disease outbreaks, we are already feeling the effects of global warming. We need to act now and work together in protecting the planet.

Understanding that collective effort is the way to go, retail giant SM Supermalls is committed to helping all Filipinos make more environmentally friendly choices in every aspect of their life.

“Many people care about the planet but find it hard to create a green lifestyle because of limited time or budget. That’s why we have community programs that make it more convenient and affordable to be an eco-warrior,” says Jonjon San Agustin, SVP for Marketing, SM Supermalls.

Here are five easy ways on how you and your family can live greener.

Segregate your trash and Trash to Cash

Segregating your biodegradable and recyclable waste reduces the amount of trash that goes into landfills. Have separate containers for different kinds of trash: biodegradable for food and garden waste; recyclable for plastic, paper, and metal waste; residual waste for trash that can’t be recycled including used tissue or paper plates; electronic waste for old batteries or broken gadget which shouldn’t be mixed with other waste because they contain metals that can contaminate the soil.

You can bring your recyclable waste to SM Supermalls’ Trash to Cash Recycling Market, held 10 am to 2 pm on every first Friday and Saturday of the Month. Visit this link to find the kiosk locations near you.

Limit the use of plastic through Plastic Waste Collection

Did you know that it takes plastic over 1,000 years to decompose?

About 10% of plastic materials will end up in the ocean and can kill marine life. In the Philippines, plastic waste often congests sewage systems causing floods. You can avoid using single use plastic by bringing your own reusable containers or eco bags when going to the groceries.

You can also buy items in eco-friendly packaging.

Plastic cutlery and straws are optional during order delivery or takeout. For dine-in, you can have your own eco-kit which has a drinking bottle, a set of utensils, and a foldable eco bag. Go green anytime and anywhere!

You can also recycle your plastic waste through SM Supermalls’ Plastic Waste Collection programs. Make it a fun weekend and volunteer for SM by the Bay and SM Mall of Asia’s regular ocean clean-up drives.

Plant a garden

Plants help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air. If you don’t have a large yard for a garden, you can still get houseplants! There are many creative and beautiful ways to add more plants to a small home like using a backless bookshelf or installing vertical gardens.

Get plants, tools, and expert tips on how to take care of your home garden at SM Mall. You can also find beautiful containers like terrariums and plant hangers that are made by Filipino SMEs.

Buy eco-friendly products

Choose more environmentally friendly products to gradually create a sustainable lifestyle.

Environmentally friendly products can be reusable or biodegradable. They are usually made from sustainable materials with eco-friendly packaging. They also produced less toxic waste during manufacturing and after disposal.

You can find thousands of eco-friendly products within SM malls through the recently launched Green Finds pop-up stores. The selection of products can help go green in every aspect of your life.

Reuse as much as you can

Before you throw anything away, consider if the item can be either upcycled into something useful, or donated to someone who needs it. SM holds regular toy and book drives, where you can even get discount vouchers to use in the store.

Join the Green Movement

The SM Green Movement is a collective effort of SM, its customers, communities, and partners to promote green living, green culture and a green planet. For more information, visit this website.

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