Author Topic: Improving other senses  (Read 7416 times)

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2011, 10:12:14 PM »
As contrary as it might seem, I think that an improved sense of smell can actually decrease appetite... If a food is bland it will not trigger this at all. Also however, if a food is very strong, it will be satisfying.

Shadowfoot,

These are good observations.  But I actually don't think there is a contradiction here.  Flavor can be both reinforcing and satiating to appetite. In my post on Flavor control diets,  I tried to show how this apparent paradox can be resolved by using the concept of multiple satiety centers.  Different flavors -- sweet, fruity, savory, salty, etc. appear to satiate somewhat independently, which is why we can eat more food at buffets than meals of a single type of food, and why we seem to have a "second stomach" for dessert after feeling stuffed on a meat or salad course.

The Flavor Point Diet and Sensa tastants are based on the idea that a single strong flavor will saturate a given satiety center and suppress appetite.  This is consistent with your statement above.  But introduce a variety of flavors and tastes and appetite may become ignited again.

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2011, 10:30:37 PM »
Todd,

I would like to add to and clarify my position on itching. I think that perhaps different strategies work for different situations. For example, depending on the person, scratching a mosquito bite might simply make the problem a lot worse. In that case, using your approach would be the best option. I have not been able to experiment because I do not have mosquitoes were I am (which, ironically, is in the middle of the woods). Anyway, my situation is different from yours and thus requires a different approach. With mosquitoes, itching them often only makes the situation worse. But with ticks, scratching everything that itches even a little is the easiest way to locate and get ticks off of you. If I had cultivated an attitude where I simply ignored all itches I would likely have a lot more ticks stay long enough to embed themselves. The next time I am in an area where there are a lot of mosquitoes I will experiment with both methods and see which one works better for me.

Shadowfoot,

From practical point of view, dealing with insect bites. you are certainly correct! Itching has its uses, and it would be silly and imprudent to make a point of avoiding itching  or otherwise brushing your skin, if the result is suffering bug bites. 

I perhaps should have clarified this better, but my point about extinguishing the itching response was really meant more as a "demonstration experiment".  It is one of the easiest and relatively harmless ways I could think of to prove to oneself how readily any "urge" can be deconditioned.  Just like hunger pangs, the urge to itch can come at random times and in "waves" that increase and decrease in intensity. I was thinking here not about insect bites, but rather the seemingly causeless random itches that occur on your cheek, nose, or elbow at odd moments of the day. I wanted to show that itching is not an immutable "given", but rather a conditioned response.  By purposely ignoring and refusing to reinforce an itch, or at least itching after the primary "wave" has died down substantially, the itching sensation itself can be largely or totally extinguished. 

I did these experiments not so much because I wanted to live without itches, but as a way to start thinking about how appetite works.  Itching is induced by the release of histamine in the skin, but that release is at least in part  a conditioned response -- just as the release of the appetite regulating hormones like insulin, ghrelin, and probably leptin, are at least in part psychologically conditioned.   I was able to extinguish my own itching sensations within about two days, which is a lot faster than appetite deconditioning.  So I think it is helpful for people to try this in order to gain insight and confidence that deconditioning is actually possible.

Hope that clarifies.  ;)

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2011, 08:50:00 AM »
Todd,

I do understand you position and I see it a lot like the flavor control diet. Itching is often useful -- our body trying to tell us something -- but learning how to control it in some circumstances is useful. This is analogous to how flavor and delicious food are not bad, but it might be a good idea to restrict them for some people trying to lose weight. Both are interesting experiments, and reveal aspects about human behavior and how to manipulate it.

An interesting point to add to the flavor/smell discussion -- I am finding that I commonly forget to put salt on my food. This is not a conscious effort to restrict salt intake, but spontaneous. Even foods like unsalted brown rice are flavorful for me. And I have not cut my food intake -- if anything, I have increased it. I can enjoy an unseasoned and unsalted hunk of meat that has been slapped on the pan for a few minutes.

This leads to an observation about tasteless diets that has been noted before but I would like to comment on based on my own experience. It seems that a lot of people who are overweight are able to "reset" their body-fat set-point by eating bland food and spontaneously restrict food intake. But for people who are lean, like me, eating bland food does not (at least in my case) lead to a decreased hunger.

Offline shadowfoot

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2011, 06:41:02 AM »
I have recently done a few things aside from simply sniffing that have helped to improve my sense of smell. First, I have introduced dietary changes which have been successful in reducing nasal congestion down to 0% (from maybe the 5-10%). For me these included substantially reducing my dairy intake and upping my carbohydrate intake from fruits, tubers, etc. Second, I have incorporated an initial blast of hot water in my showers before introducing the cold water. I think the steam helps to clear out my nasal passages and make me more attuned to smells -- kind of like exercise.

I would also like to point out that I think it is rather silly that I only included the five traditional senses in my initial post. Other important ones that you might want to improve are proprioception and balance. The latter is of particular interest to people who car carsick. Thinking about it from the hormetic standpoint, spinning in circles and generally doing things that make one a little bit dizzy should improve one's ability to handle such situations. Any other suggestions?

Another interesting observation on the itching discussion; I barely notice mosquito bites any more. With all of the ticks, poison ivy, chiggers, etc that I have been getting all summer my resistance to itching has, unintentionally, improved greatly.

Offline aelephant

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2011, 05:26:12 PM »
Just being present increases proprioception and balance greatly.

This has been a little pet project of mine recently -- being mindful of how I am standing, particularly on a bouncy subway train.

I find when my thoughts leave my body or the present and start to wander, my balance suffers.

Offline AnaGrey

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Re: Improving other senses
« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2015, 09:17:38 AM »
Everyone seems to be all about improving eyesight, as that is the most common sense for people to have a problem with and is possibly the most important one in our lives. I have been thinking about applying hormesis to other areas recently and want to see what you think.

Smell
I have always had a terrible sense of smell. So about a month ago I started really trying to smell things whenever I could. It's not exactly a stressor, but it is a stimulus. So far the results have been impressive and my ability so smell things has improved greatly.

Taste
If we are talking about the intricacies of food, then that is actually smell. As far as I know very few people have trouble with salty, bitter, etc.

Touch
I'm not sure if it is possible to grow more nerves, but it is certainly possible to become more sensitive.

Hearing
I have read the musicians are much better at picking out voices in a crowd. I have very good hearing, so I have not experimented with this one.

As with eyesight, it seems that any senses should be able to be improved within the limits of the organism. Getting eagle eyes isn't going to happen, nor is hearing out of an ear that is physically damaged beyond repair. However, I think the limits are often far greater than you would expect and are often better than normal.

What do you guys think? Have you experimented with any other senses beyond sight? Would you like to?

This is great topic indeed! :)
I haven't done experiments like you have but I always think that one way to improve my senses is through meditation.
I'm still a work in progress at it though. I do hope I'm right about my conviction.
What do you think?
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