Human Nose can Distinguish 1 Trillion Smells

March 26th, 2014

nose distinguishes trillion smells

We’ve long known that a human’s sense of smell triggers the strongest memories. But recently, scientists figured out exactly how impressive our nostrils really are. According to researchers, the human nose can distinguish at least one trillion different odors, which is millions more than previously estimated.

The findings, published in Science Magazine, debunk the widely-accepted figure that humans can only detect 10,000 scents, putting the sense of smell well below the capabilities of hearing and sight. This number dated back to the 1920s and was not supported by data.

Scientists have estimated that the human ear can distinguish between 340,000 sounds, and the eye and its mere three receptors can differentiate between several million colors. The nose’s abilities, meanwhile, are carried out with the help of 400 olfactory receptors – it’s the largest gene family in the human genome. It makes sense that we would be able to discern many more smells – everything from roses to bad breath - than we can colors.

“Our analysis shows that the human capacity for discriminating smells is much larger than anyone anticipated,” study co-author Leslie Vosshall, head of Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, said in the report. “For smell, nobody ever took the time to test.”

In the study, 26 volunteers were instructed to distinguish between odor mixtures made with 128 different odorant molecules that came from common flavor and fragrance ingredients such as vanilla, mint, apple as well as less pleasant aromas. However, these were combined in groups of up to 30, creating a sort of olfactory white noise.

“When we started mixing them together, we mixed them at equal intensity so all the smells were diluted to the same intensity,” lead author Dr. Andreas Keller from Rockefeller University explained to ABC News.

Participants sampled three vials of scents at a time, two of which were identical, the other having different smell. The test was to see if they could discern which was the outlier, completing 264 comparisons.

Results
While volunteers’ abilities varied greatly, they could, on average, tell the difference between vials with up to 51 percent of the same components. Researchers then extrapolated how many odors the average person could smell if all possible combinations of the 128 odors were sampled, coming to their estimate of at least one trillion.

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World Health Organization Cuts Recommended Sugar Intake

March 19th, 2014

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It’s been long known that sugar is bad for the mouth. The tasty treat can cause tooth decay and cavities, and can even lead to pungent, bad breath. That’s why the World Health Organization is putting its foot down on the sweet substance. The United Nations agency has altered its sugar intake recommendation, cutting the amount in half.

On March 5, the organization published new draft guidelines that addressed concerns surrounding the negative effects that sugar has on one’s health. It reduced the recommended amount of sugar from 10 percent of your daily caloric intake to 5 percent. For an average-sized adult, that comes to around six teaspoons of the sweet stuff each day. However, that doesn’t mean a person can eat six spoonfuls of granulated sugar on a daily basis.

People often don’t realize that sugar is present in many foods they commonly eat – especially processed options. A 12-ounce can of soda, for instance, might have as many as 10 teaspoons of the substance, while a slice of bread may have around 5. While this amount includes sugars in processed foods as well as honey, juices and syrups, it does not include those that occur naturally, such as sugars in fruits.

Sugar, which is a known culprit of bad breath, was targeted for its role in dental diseases. As the most common noncommunicable diseases on earth, the World Health Organization hopes to decrease their prevalence and help people prevent the pain, tooth loss and gum disease other symptoms that come with dental issues. The guidelines also note the soaring expense of treating oral conditions – it can cost 5 to 10 percent of a person’s health budget. Not such a sweet way to spend your salary.

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A Breakdown of Statistics on Oral Health: What You Need to Know

March 14th, 2014

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A smile is universal. Across all cultures, it means happiness, welcomeness and attraction. But if those teeth get dirty, they might send mixed signals. Although some say a smile is only skin deep, it in fact provides a window into your body’s overall health. So, here are 10 takeaway statistics that you should know to keep both your mouth and body clean and healthy:

1. Thirty-four percent of Americans did not visit a dentist last year. Your dental professional can spot things you may not notice, remove dental plaque, provide proper cavity treatment, and at the end of the day, help to brighten your pearly whites.

2. The average American consumes a whopping 600 cans of soda annually. This sugary beverage is among the leading culprits for tooth decay. As an alternative to soda, drink water, which helps wash down harmful acids and food debris.

3. Nearly 50 percent of people say that a smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone.

4. In a survey on dating, bad breath was found to be the No. 1 turn-off. Check out the best mouthwash for bad breath. Whether you’re meeting for lunch or at a concert, keep sugar-free gum on hand.

5. According to a 2007 French study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, roughly 6 percent of people have tonsil stones, which are clumps of mucus, dead cells and debris that get caught in the pockets of the tonsils. While many people may not know about this condition, a growing number of Americans have expressed concern in recent years over what they are and what to do with them. Tonsil stones can cause throat irritation and discomfort and can be popped out using Q-tip or oral irrigator.

6. Almost 4 out of 5 Americans have a cavity by age 17. Once secondary (adult) teeth set in, you have to wear that smile for life! So, take care of it.

7. According to a British study from DailyMail, white teeth can make you look 20 percent more attractive. The same study also found that having white teeth makes you up to 16 percent more employable. Tooth whitening options, anyone?

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Keeping Your Baby’s Smile Healthy Throughout the Year

March 12th, 2014

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The beginning of 2014 didn’t just mark a fresh start for you, it was one for your youngster as well. As a number of studies have indicated, taking care of teeth and gums starts at a young age. The health of primary (baby) teeth often dictates the future health of adult teeth. That means for your little bundle of joy, it’s best to know what to do to keep them nothing but smiles.

Cleanings at home
Many parents don’t realize that oral hygiene for babies starts as soon as they’re born. Even if they don’t have teeth yet, parents should use a clean, damp washcloth to wipe their gums clean after each feeding. Once their teeth appear, toddlers should be taught to hold a toothbrush, but brush for them twice a day with water – no toothpaste is needed. Keep an eye out for long-lasting bad breath, as it could signal an underlying condition.

Visit the dentist by age 1
Similar to the daily cleanings, a staggering 97 percent of parents were unaware that infants should visit a dentist during their first year of life, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPA). Bring your child to the dental office when he or she is between 3 and 9 months, which is typically when the first tooth erupts. If you want to set a date, AAPA recommends that a child should have their first appointment within six months of developing their first tooth.

This is important for several reasons. First, it helps familiarize your child with the dentist and dental office environment. It can also be helpful for a parent to learn new tips. Although you’ve been brushing and flossing your entire life, keeping your infant’s mouth clean demands a different set of skills. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist to give you a demonstration. Practicing good oral health for kids starts with parents. Lastly, it kickstarts the habit of visiting the dentist every six months.

Nutrition
What you feed your baby can be just as crucial as dental visits. It’s important not to send children to bed with a bottle of juice or milk. Both beverages contain sugar that can wear away teeth when left for long periods of time, such as during nap times or overnight. Plus, you don’t want to add to their morning breath!

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Chewing Gum Boosts Concentration

March 7th, 2014

chewing gum concentrationThirty years ago, chewing gum in school would get you a straight trip to detention. Now, it turns out the sticky substance does more than clean your teeth - it sharpens your mind, too.

A number of studies have shown that gum can help people stay focused on tasks for longer, enhancing concentration during memory tests.

One research that assessed its effects on audio memory revealed that the participants who chewed gum had quicker reaction times and more accurate results than those who didn’t chew gum. This proved increasingly true toward the latter parts of the 30-minute audio task.

“Interestingly, participants who didn’t chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end,” Kate Morgan, author of the study from Cardiff University, told the British journal Psychology. ”This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time.”

The researchers explained that gum increases the flow of oxygen to regions of the brain responsible for attention. More oxygen can keep people alert and quicken their reflexes. Interestingly, it’s not a task that allows you to fake it ’til you make it: Research shows that people do not get the benefits by just pretending to chew gum.

Carolyne Cybulski, a pre-school teacher in Toronto, found similar results when it came to her kids. She encouraged her little ones to chew gum during the day, since it leads to less fidgeting, increased attention and lowered anxiety.

“Children learn through their senses – and oral activity can be very calming,” Cybulski explained to The Globe and Mail. “The act of chewing gum also provides constant sensory input to the muscles in the jaw and ears and we find it helps children to concentrate better.”

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