4

votes

Can you get a similar reaction from sugar or gluten from a smell?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 09, 2012 at 3:57 PM

On 2 separate occasions I have felt similar symptoms you get from sugar or gluten exposure from simply an intense aroma of those substances. the first occurrence was when I walked into a Subway to use the restroom and the smell of the fresh baked breads was like a shot to my gut. The smell was SO extremely intense and I immediately started feeling nauseous. I used the bathroom quickly and no more than 10 minutes later I had a pounding headache and was feeling very poor. The second time was today when our office was having a go away gathering for a co-worker and there were literally 200+ doughnuts out on the table. I swear I got a sugar rush followed by nausea and another headache and I was only there for 30 minutes.

Considering I used to eat Subway at least once a week before Paleo it surprised me how intense the smell was and how my body reacted. I know Robb and others have talked about how thinking about food can get the digestive enzymes going and possibly thinking about sweets can release some insulin, so I guess my reactions might not be that uncommon. Also, I know you can get a contact high from pot and also there is second hand smoke, however, there are actual chemicals mixing and released in the air in those situations.

Has anyone else had similar reactions and what is actually happening? Am I experiencing a contact high and is it more intense because of the lack of exposure?

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on January 10, 2012
at 09:11 AM

@JeepersJulie - I would expect your body has learned not to react to this background noise of smell...and you no longer have an insulin reaction to it like the rest of us. I love bread and the smell of it is particularly pleasant to me. I think I would go nuts if I was a baker and paleo...

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 09, 2012
at 08:37 PM

What're you smelling are compounds as the result of the Maillard reaction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard_reaction). Delicious volatile organic compounds...

D687712302e0103ea52615eefc94d102

(396)

on January 09, 2012
at 07:52 PM

If that's the case, I'm screwed because I'm a baker and I've got this stuff all over my hands every day.

8c8e71eb729c0edb4786c6f3ba8614e4

(568)

on January 09, 2012
at 07:38 PM

I wouldn't say it's mental in a bad sense. I mean it might just be that because you don't like the smell or because you know it's bad for you, it gives you a bad effect (I guess as Matt put it, "nocebo")

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on January 09, 2012
at 06:54 PM

Thats my thinking too. I avoid soy candles for this reason, even if I am wrong, it makes me feel better.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on January 09, 2012
at 05:06 PM

This is like the question a while back about if you can get a reaction to gluten from kissing someone who eats gluten...

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:52 PM

Sounds like an extreme nocebo effect to me. The prescription? Lay off paleo kool-aid. :)

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:12 PM

That's an interesting question. I know that the smell of subway makes me nauseous, but that's because the smell is, to me, actually disgusting. The smell made me sick even back when I used to eat it occasionally. But are you super super low carb? You think whatever pre-emptive insulin release you're getting from the smell is sufficient to make you hypoglycemic? That seems unlikely, but I have no idea. Hopefully someone else can shed some light on it.

22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:12 PM

I have been told I am mental, so it's totally possible..lol.

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6 Answers

2
6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:33 PM

I'm sure I've read somewhere that the pancreas starts producing insulin when we smell sugary or starchy foods in preparation for eating them. However, I think the peak is small if we don't then consume the smelled foods. Apologies for the lack of reference, possibly Gary Taubes and "Why we get fat".

D687712302e0103ea52615eefc94d102

(396)

on January 09, 2012
at 07:52 PM

If that's the case, I'm screwed because I'm a baker and I've got this stuff all over my hands every day.

6cdc6b1e75690cfcc4804a6c9eaa910a

(2171)

on January 10, 2012
at 09:11 AM

@JeepersJulie - I would expect your body has learned not to react to this background noise of smell...and you no longer have an insulin reaction to it like the rest of us. I love bread and the smell of it is particularly pleasant to me. I think I would go nuts if I was a baker and paleo...

2
8c8e71eb729c0edb4786c6f3ba8614e4

(568)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:10 PM

A completely non-expert opinion here... but could it be psychological? I don't see how sugar/gluten can affect you without you injesting (or maybe touching?) it.

22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:12 PM

I have been told I am mental, so it's totally possible..lol.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:52 PM

Sounds like an extreme nocebo effect to me. The prescription? Lay off paleo kool-aid. :)

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on January 09, 2012
at 05:06 PM

This is like the question a while back about if you can get a reaction to gluten from kissing someone who eats gluten...

8c8e71eb729c0edb4786c6f3ba8614e4

(568)

on January 09, 2012
at 07:38 PM

I wouldn't say it's mental in a bad sense. I mean it might just be that because you don't like the smell or because you know it's bad for you, it gives you a bad effect (I guess as Matt put it, "nocebo")

1
1dda08efb8ba98e9128fdef038153227

on January 09, 2012
at 11:38 PM

I am going to assume yes. True story, I hate plums with a passion. One time while grocery shopping I walked by a display of plums that were very fragrant. I go nauseous and nearly barfed right there. I'm sure it's all psychosomatic more than anything. So, you may have just developed an intense dislike of sugar and gluten to the point the smell makes you nauseous.

1
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 09, 2012
at 05:11 PM

Another non-expert here. What occurs to me is that molecules must be inhaled or you wouldn't smell anything, right?

So your question relates to what types of molecules you inhale when you breathe in intense bread fumes. Are you experiencing a gluten reaction, an insulin release, or what? Do we actually inhale individual yeast organisms or what?

It's a great question and I'll be back to learn.

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on January 09, 2012
at 06:54 PM

Thats my thinking too. I avoid soy candles for this reason, even if I am wrong, it makes me feel better.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on January 09, 2012
at 08:37 PM

What're you smelling are compounds as the result of the Maillard reaction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard_reaction). Delicious volatile organic compounds...

0
13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on January 12, 2012
at 03:21 AM

PossiBle wheat allErgy, igE type, ie, immediate reaction. See an allergist for standard skin tests.

Or you may be gluten intolerant. See celiac.com for reports of similar reactions and consider whether you should be tested.

Paleo is a great diet and lifestyle but it can unmask existing food intolerances, some of them quite serious.

0
Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on January 09, 2012
at 11:30 PM

How about your body's fight or flight mechanism? I think it's possible. Obviously it's different, but I have problems going through the laundry soap isle at the grocery store or the perfume area of the department store. I also get sick from cigarette smoke smell, even when nobody is there smoking, and asphalt is very, very bad. Smells can do weird things and I think everyone is different in how they are affected.

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