If you've ever had a bite of spicy food, intentionally or otherwise, you know all too well the burning sensation that follows. You may have found yourself reaching for a glass of water only to find that made it even worse. So, what gives? A new video from the American Chemical Society explains clearly, once and for all, exactly what is going on!
The fiery culprit is capsaicin. Capsaicin is colourless and odourless and found in chili peppers. This compound binds to pain receptors in the mouth and sends neural signals to the brain telling it that we are eating something we shouldn't be. This triggers watery eyes, runny nose and a sensation of thirst all in an attempt to expel the food from our body.
So what should be done if you find yourself in the grips of a burning mouth? Drink milk. Capsaicin has one end with a long hydrocarbon tail. This means that it is a non-polar molecule and will dissolve in other non-polar substances. Unfortunately, water is a polar substance and so it will spread the capsaicin around the mouth which will only intensify the pain. Milk, on the other hand, dissolves it and removes it from the mouth providing relief. Dairy also contains casein which attracts the capsaicin molecules, effectively pulling them off your pain receptors.
[bctt tweet="Why You Should Never Drink Water After Eating Spicy Food"]
The good news is, the more often you eat spicy foods, the stronger your tolerance will become. The pain receptors become desensitized after repeated exposure. So, if you're someone who can barely handle the heat, that could improve over time.
Have a look at the video:
Are you excited to have permission for a little bit of ice cream after a nice, spicy meal?
Source: Daily Mail
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