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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK
Stimulating senses 'boosts health'
Massage
Massage could be good for your health
People are losing their sense of taste and smell more quickly than in the past, leading to serious health and dietary problems in old age, UK research suggests.

A study published by Oxford University claims if we stimulated our senses more we could be healthier in later life.

It blames modern life for turning us into touch-hungry individuals.


Time and again portrayed as a vice, indulgence is in fact a fundamental necessity

Dr Charles Spence
Researcher Dr Charles Spence said this meant that the growing trend towards self-indulgence in modern society might not necessarily be a bad thing.

In fact, he said, it was probably a deep seated biological need.

Dr Spence said: "At the heart of pleasure is an often misrepresented need.

"Time and again portrayed as a vice, indulgence is in fact a fundamental necessity."

Indoor culture

Dr Spence, author of The ICI Report on the Secrets of the Senses, warned that sensory deprivation was an ailment of modern society.

"We have moved away from an outdoor physical lifestyle to one in which we spend 90% of our time indoors, often watching television or using computers.

"Although this makes life easier it doesn't satisfy our basic need for a balanced multi-sensory diet.

Dr Charles Spence
Dr Charles Spence advocates a holistic approach
"While our visual senses overdose on information, the emotional senses of touch and smell are neglected.

"Indulgence and pampering provide the natural counterbalance."

Dr Spence said the majority of life's most pleasurable experiences were multi-sensory - drinking wine is not just about taste, but also the depth of colour, temperature, aroma and feel in the mouth.

He said 18% of our body is skin, and if we don't stimulate it appropriately it can lead to stress and higher blood pressure.

Holistic approach

Dr Spence said boosting all our senses will make us more productive, successful and able to enjoy better relationships.

"We need to think of new ways to stimulate the sense of touch."

He suggests a holistic approach to the senses, combining background smells, mood-enhancing music and tactile surfaces in the home and workplace.

A gradual loss of taste and smell is a natural part of the ageing process.

The loss of taste in old age means that the elderly require two to three times more salt in their food and up to 12 times more when they are on medication.

However, the latest research suggests that this process is speeding up.

See also:

15 Apr 02 | Health
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