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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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DKSH, LEO Pharma partner to deliver products, solutions to people with skin conditions, thrombosis

DKSH Business Unit Healthcare, a leading partner for healthcare companies seeking to grow their business in Asia and beyond, has partnered with LEO Pharma to bring high-quality therapeutic products for dermatology and thrombosis to patients across Asia.

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DKSH Business Unit Healthcare, a leading partner for healthcare companies seeking to grow their business in Asia and beyond, has partnered with LEO Pharma to bring high-quality therapeutic products for dermatology and thrombosis to patients across Asia.

Partnering in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the two companies seek to solidify brand presence, grow market share, and ultimately improve patient health outcomes in the region. Skin diseases can cause serious physical and social discomfort for millions of patients around the world whereas thrombosis can affect anyone regardless of their age, race, gender, and ethnicity.

DKSH will support LEO Pharma by building dedicated sales and marketing teams on the ground in Asia and managing logistics and product distribution in these markets. The firm’s experienced teams and broad distribution network will ensure LEO Pharma products reach modern trade, traditional trade, hospitals, clinics, and other medical channels, as well as patients in need across the region.

LEO Pharma is a global company dedicated to advancing the standard of care for the benefit of people with skin conditions, their families and society. With decades of research and development to advance the science of dermatology, LEO Pharma now offers a wide range of innovative treatments and therapies for all skin disease severities as well as thrombosis.

Khalid Aouidat, Vice President, responsible for commercial activities in Southeast Asia at LEO Pharma commented: “At LEO Pharma, we are dedicated to changing the standards of care for people with skin diseases by bringing new innovative treatments forward and making them easily accessible. Supporting this ambition, we are delighted to be partnering with DKSH. Their experience and strong regional footprint in Asia, as well as their marketing and sales expertise will help to further strengthen LEO Pharma’s brand and its continued growth.”

Bijay Singh, Head of Business Unit Healthcare at DKSH, said: “We are committed to enriching people’s lives and improving healthcare for all. The partnership with LEO Pharma strengthens our ambition to become the preferred partner for clients to help patients in Asia to have better access to high-quality and innovative products and solutions. While we drive their growth across the region, LEO Pharma can focus on researching and developing products and solutions for people with skin conditions.”

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Epson partners with WWF, launches mangrove restoration project in Palawan

Epson, which has previously supported the development of WWF-Philippines’ virtual museum Museo Kalikasan, is now supporting the Mangrove Restoration Project in the municipalities of Balabac and Bataraza, Southern Palawan.

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Epson Philippines’ partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines for marine ecosystem restoration has officially kickstarted with a ceremonial launch in Balabac, Palawan. Supported by project stakeholders such as the European Union delegation to the Philippines and local government officials, the project launch highlights the importance of rehabilitating mangrove sites, recognizing their critical role in marine biodiversity and protecting coasts from erosion and storm surges.

Epson, which has previously supported the development of WWF-Philippines’ virtual museum Museo Kalikasan, is now supporting the Mangrove Restoration Project in the municipalities of Balabac and Bataraza, Southern Palawan. As part of the wider European Union-funded Ocean Governance Project—an initiative focused on strengthening habitat resilience through restoration in the Sulu Sulawesi Seascape that covers the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia—the joint mission in Palawan aims to boost local capacity in taking care of the mangroves, as well as address other critical issues such as plastic waste management. With Epson as a key partner, the Mangrove Restoration Project was able to expand beyond Balabac and into the neighboring municipality of Bataraza. In addition, the growing relationship between Epson Philippines and WWF-Philippines only further drives Epson Philippines’ commitment to support sustainable innovations and initiatives to solve the world’s greatest challenges.

“Corporations have a shared responsibility in sustainable development,” said Eduardo Bonoan, Epson Philippines’ General Manager for Marketing Division, who shared his remarks virtually during the project launch. “As Epson continues its commitment to sustainable innovation and environmental responsibility, we believe in forming critical partnerships with organizations that are aligned with our values—such as WWF-Philippines.”

To further the goals of the Mangrove Restoration Project, WWF-Philippines will continue to work with local government and key stakeholders such as Epson Philippines to establish a ‘Community Learning and Innovation Hub’ that aims to bridge knowledge gaps and strengthen coastal communities’ experience in resource management, thereby helping to build local capacity.

“It is important that we continue to protect and manage Balabac’s valued mangrove forests to boost our efforts in keeping a healthy environment and supporting local livelihoods,” said Balabac Mayor Shuiab J. Astami, who officially launched the project in Balabac Island.

“We are excited to be part of this multi-stakeholder effort that will restore critical mangroves in Balabac, Palawan and improve the way their coastal resources are managed for the long haul. We strongly hope that this project will succeed and serve as an example for many other communities,” said Executive Director of WWF-Philippines, Katherine Custodio.

Moving forward, Epson aims to continue setting a more sustainable example for corporations across the region.

“Working alongside governments, local champions and conservation organizations, we are proud to be part of this public-private partnership that is aligned with our renewed Epson 25 Corporate Vision—which aims to enrich communities and help realize a sustainable society,” concludes Bonoan. ”We hope that this opens up a path for more sustainable partnerships in the future.”

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SM Green Finds is going beyond shopping

SM Supermalls President Steven Tan acknowledges that “People already know about the importance of sustainability. Their question is ‘What can I do?’ SM helps them find a way to make a difference.”

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When it comes to challenges as big as climate change, businesses and communities have to work together and consumers need to have concrete, practical options that can allow them to go green in their everyday life.

SM Supermalls President Steven Tan acknowledges that “People already know about the importance of sustainability. Their question is ‘What can I do?’ SM helps them find a way to make a difference.”

SM, the country’s largest retailer, is taking the lead in offering accessible eco-friendly options to their consumers through the recently launched Green Finds. Consumers simply need to spot items and products with a Green Finds badge.

The SM Green Finds initiative helps customers develop a sustainable lifestyle through affordable and easy-to-find eco-friendly products showcased in convenient pop-up stores.

These kiosks feature several green shopping options from 22 participating brands which includes SM Home, SM Fashion, Watsons, The Body Shop, Kultura, Baby Company, Ace Hardware, Supplies Station, Sports Central, Toy Kingdom, and Signature Lines.

Supporting local businesses

Many products featured in the Green Finds pop-up stores are made by local businesses. This is part of SM’s long-standing commitment to support Filipino small and medium enterprises—driven by its origins as a small shoe store in downtime Manila in 1958.

Today, SM works with almost 25,000 small and medium enterprises representing 27% of the total SMEs in the country. Aside from helping them reach consumers through several retail channels, it also gives free training on sustainability and social and environmental topics through the Green Movement Sustainability School.

Empowering consumers

SM is also offering multiple channels where consumers can pick out green items: from brick-and-mortar stores to online spaces.

“As the country’s largest shopping platform—with malls nationwide, the ShopSM website and app, and services like Personal Shopper and Click and Collect—we are in a unique position to make it easier for people to spot green finds,” says Cathy Ileto, VP for Corporate Communications, SM Retail.

“Our platforms empower consumers by giving them more choices, which drives the movement towards a green lifestyle.”

Community Engagement through the SM Green Movement

The SM Green Finds is part of a comprehensive program called the SM Green Movement, which brings together the customers, suppliers and partners, and communities in a joint effort to help protect the planet.

“The goal of the SM Green Movement is to get everyone involved in the effort to stop global warming and protect the planet,” Tan further stated.

For several years, SM has engaged the local communities in environmental programs. This includes recycling programs like Trash to Cash Market, SM Electronic Waste Collection, and coastal cleanups.

SM has also encouraged customers to use more eco-friendly transportation, through bike lanes and electronic vehicle (EV) charging stations in several of its malls.

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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