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What happens when we eat spicy food and why do we love it?

What happens when we eat spicy food and why do we love it?

What happens to your body when you eat spicy food?
Chilli is the main ingredient when you want to add a bit of a kick and flavour to your dishes. The main chemical ingredient 'Capsaicin' is responsible for the hot sensation in your mouth.


When you eat a hot pepper, it tricks your brain into thinking your mouth is on fire, however there is no real heat in a pepper. Capsaicin binds to pain receptors on our nerves called TRPV1, thus sending warning signals to the brain that something is hot. Your body will then try to cool itself off by sweating, crying from the eyes and nose. When you swallow the Capsaicin binds to more receptors on the way down.

So why do people love spicy food?
Chilli is packed with nutrition, so it does have health benefits, but again the chemical 'Capsaicin' is mainly responsible. In response to the heat your brain releases endorphins and dopamine. The endorphins often called the 'feel-good' chemical will act as a stress and pain reliever, but will also boost your overall mood, reduce anxiety and boost your self-esteem.

Dopamine will give us the elicit feelings of reward and pleasure in us. Both chemicals combined will give us a euphoric effect similar to a “runner’s high”. The spicier the food, the greater the pain, the more severe is the compulsion to abate this pain and therefore, the greater the sense of euphoria induced.
Ultimately, your response to spicy food depends on your tolerance. So, if you can’t handle your spice, you can slowly build up your tolerance.
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