Tips on building your tolerance to spicy foods

You may think you like spicy food

But do you have the tolerance to handle the heat? For most of us, it takes some getting used to all the intense flavors. This means building up your tolerance over time, and not just expecting to be able to start at the top of the Scoville Scale right away. But how do you build your tolerance to the extreme heat of some of the hottest peppers on the planet? Some of it takes time, some of it means retraining your brain.

Let’s explain that a little more.

When you eat hot peppers, the capsaicin stimulates your body’s pain receptors. In other words, you think the food is hot, so you react accordingly. If you’re able to push through the perception of heat, capsaicin eventually releases hormones that make you feel good. But you need to get to that point. Some spicy food aficionados say to retrain your brain they don’t drink anything after eating spicy food until the “pain” subsides. Water won’t help anyways because capsaicin is oil-based. If you just can’t handle it, you can try drinking milk. A protein found in milk helps keep capsaicin from binding to pain receptors on your tongue.

Spice lovers say:

You can build your tolerance slowly over time by eating spicy food regularly, increasing the heat every time. Maybe start with some jalapeno slices or start adding a bit of mild or medium hot sauce to everything you eat. Others suggest adding a new, hotter pepper variety every week until you build up to the desired level on the hotness scale. This takes time, of course, but the rewards in the end are worth it. While you’re not starting at the top, you are able to savor different Scoville levels and pepper varieties along the way to help determine which level on the spice scale is right for you.

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