Your sense of smell isn't quite the survival skill it used to be, but it's still important for detecting dangerous food, or rooting out uncommon odours. Your sense of smell deteriorates over time, but the Wall Street Journal shows you how to protect that sense and even sharpen it a little.
Photo by Tobyotter
Unlike sight, you can actually increase your ability to smell, which is handy given that smell also affects taste. First off, you need to test how good at smelling you are:
Close your eyes and taste a little vanilla and chocolate ice cream. "If you can't taste the difference, you may have a problem," he says. Or hold a pad soaked in rubbing alcohol just beyond your chin. If you can smell it, your sense of smell is probably fine.
Next up, it's time for a couple of the easiest exercises you've ever done:
Be scent-conscious in your day-to-day life. "If you're drinking a cup of coffee or tea, actually smell it before you drink it, and when eating food, smell it first." he says. "If you do this on a regular basis, you will increase your sense of smell."
Alternately, you can take a more proactive approach:
To help train the brain to discern differences among scents, Dr. Hirsch recommends what he calls "sniff therapy." Choose three or four different types of scents that you find pleasant — say, a floral scent, such as those found in shampoo or soap; a fruity scent from berries, a banana or some other resilient fruit; and another, different scent, like coffee... Sniffing these scents frequently, around four to six times each day, will eventually spark different receptors in the nose to work.
It might seem silly, but losing your sense of smell means you can't detect gas leaks or spoiled foods. Head over to the Wall Street Journal for a few more exercises.
Uncork the Nose's Secret Powers [Wall Street Journal]