My mouth is on fire!!! Or is it?

When it comes to spicy food, some people love it, and other people, well we won’t talk about that.

Obviously, everyone’s different when it comes to how much spice they can handle. Some people prefer their peppers on the extra mild side, while others really like to spice things up. No matter your individual preference for the scoville scale, you’ve probably had at least one experience where you felt like your mouth was on fire. The thing is, that scorching pain you felt didn’t really mean your mouth was on fire at all.

You’re not really burning your tongue when you eat hot peppers, even if it sure does feel that way.

Instead, your body’s having a neurological reaction. You feel the burning sensation because of the capsaicin in hot peppers. When the spicy hot chemical compound comes in contact with your mouth’s neurotransmitters, you feel a burning sensation. It turns out your tongue can’t really pick up “heat” as a taste. Instead, our nerve receptors sense the heat and let us know about it! It happens whether we like what we’re tasting or not.

It's great if you truly enjoy hot peppers because spicy food is often packed with health benefits. It’s thought capsaicin can help fight cancer, plus spicy food helps kill off harmful bacteria, speed up your metabolism, reduce inflammation and it promotes a longer lifespan. So, beyond taste, why do some people crave hot peppers? It may have to do with your body producing more adrenaline when you eat spicy food, and then releasing endorphins as a natural painkiller. Some people say it makes them feel good. If the heat gets to be too much to handle, remember not to grab a cup of water to wash things down. It will likely make the heat worse. Instead, try some milk or dairy products to cool things down.

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