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Why Some People Like Spicy Foods

Posted by Hot Chilli Sauces (chilli) on Aug 29 2017
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Do you like your food hot and spicy? Or are you one for milder tastes and a couple shakes of black pepper on your food makes you cringe? People have very different tastes when it comes to their food and while some can handle the hottest of the hot chile peppers, others watch in horror as they down their spicy sauces and pungent peppers. Why is it that we have such vastly different tolerances for spicy foods and is there anything we can do about it?

     Researchers have studied the effects of spicy foods on people’s taste buds, skin, nervous systems and brains and have come up with the same answer. Some like it and some don’t. But is there more to that story than we know or is it really just that simple? 

     Some researchers and psychologists feel that the pain and suffering we receive from spicy foods is all in our heads. It is a result of the brain tricking us into thinking we are actually doing damage to our bodies and it wants us to stop. To be clear, spicy foods do not cause any physical harm to a well-functioning digestive system and aside from the burning sensation we encounter, they usually leave our mouths without injury as well.

     To explain this further, spicy foods taste hot because of chemical molecules that excite pain receptors on our tongues. These pain receptors are linked to the sensation of temperature giving us the impression that we are hurting ourselves.

Is There a Spicy Food Gene?

     Although there isn’t a specific gene that makes us like hot sauce, spicy food lovers often have an affinity to the heat thanks to being low in a neurotransmitter called substance P, which is responsible for sending pain signals to the brain. This explains why people from some Latin American and Indian regions have a naturally high tolerance for spicy foods.

Heat-Seeking Personalities

     Researchers have also shown that certain personality types are drawn to spicy hot foods. Those who enjoy action and adventure eat more spicy foods than those who don’t. This isn’t always the reason though as studies have linked a social aspect to spicy foods. Some women who choose to eat spicy foods, do it for the thrill, whereas some men who pour on the heat do it for attention or the fact that they believe they are expected to.

     Can we train our tongues to like spicy food? It seems that this is a possibility as many people do become accustomed to the heat of a particular chile pepper and it becomes less spicy to them over time. They go from jalapenos to serrano’s, then ghost peppers to Trinidad moruga scorpion peppers until they find one that is too hot even for them.

     How can you become more accustomed to spicy foods? Experts say to start small and choose mild peppers until you have built up a tolerance for something hotter. Take it slow and continue to enjoy the heat as you graduate to some of the hottest chile peppers in the world.




Last changed: Aug 29 2017 at 4:16 PM



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