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A SENSE-ble Look at Healthy Living: Chemoreceptors

It’s hard to believe that I’m already at the twelfth sense of my sense-ble look at a healthier lifestyle. I have a sense that I should put my old laboratory coat on because it’s time for a chemistry lesson.

There are many chemoreceptors in our bodies. They are also called chemosensors. By design, they grab onto various signals and send them to the brain for processing. Think of them as “little fingers” picking up the signs, converting them chemically to generate specific biological signals… Okay, I’ll take off my lab coat.

sick man laying in bed

There are so many chemoreceptors that help maintain a balance of all the body’s functions that I can’t list them all here. They range from adjusting temperature, monitoring pain thresholds, helping with vision, and walking and chewing gum at the same time. Yes, that last comment was an attempt to hit your sense of humor.

I’ll focus on two common chemoreceptors associated with previously-discussed senses: taste and smell. These sensors rapidly influence my degree of hunger or how I wish to satisfy my growling stomach. You may wish to go back and read my two blogs on taste and smell again.

Taste and smell chemoreceptors are extremely specific and rapidly send biological signals to my brain. I have no control over the process, and that is sometimes a helpless feeling. This explains why food vendors will use fans to send the various aromas throughout the room or offer small tastes. I just need to be mindful and stay away from those situations.

I’ve read that my nose has the ability to detect 10,000 different smells. It’s believed that chemoreceptors dealing with the sense of smell are a major contributing factor to how food tastes. Thinking back to the last time I had a cold, my meals didn’t seem to taste the same. I overcompensated on my intake because I didn’t get that sense of satisfaction. So, maybe “feed a cold” isn’t my best course of action if I want to continue to lose weight.

It will always be a struggle dealing with the senses, since the body is indeed a chemical and biological marvel. I enjoy researching and understand that not everything will always make sense. The notion that chemoreceptors are now being looked at as to how they may affect obesity is very interesting. It makes me wish I had paid more attention in my chemistry classes.

Rick

This is part 12 of the multipart series, “A SENSE-ble Look at Healthy Living.” In my next blog, we’ll look to the human sense of itch.

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