Spice Overload? How to cool things down after spicy food


We get it, some people just love spicy food!

And why not? Spicy food gives any meal an extra dose of flavor, but it also sometimes sets our mouth on fire! You may find your nose is running and you’ve temporarily lost your ability to taste anything but the spice. You can thank the capsaicin. That’s the compound found in hot peppers that’s seemingly set your tongue on fire. In reality, the sensation is just the capsaicin binding to a transient receptor on your tongue. Your body recognizes the sensation as a burn, even though it’s just an illusion and there’s no physical heat at all.

Still, it’s sometimes hard for your brain to understand anything when all you feel is intense pain and burning from your latest experiment on the hot pepper scale.

So, how do you cool things down after overdoing it on spicy food? We have a few options, but the last thing you should grab is a tall cup of water. While your brain may be telling you that water is the best thing to put out the “flames”, water isn’t a very good idea at all. Capsaicin is fat-soluble, so it actually repels water. That’s why it’s not going to do much to help a burning mouth. Instead, have a glass of milk handy. Milk contains casein, which has the ability to bind to capsaicin.

Once this happens, it means you’ll probably start to get some relief.

Some also say because capsaicin is fat-soluble, the fat in milk can dissolve it. For this reason, the best way to fight the burn from spicy food is to drink some high fat milk. In fact, the higher the fat count, the better. If you can’t do milk, you can try neutralizing capasiacin with acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar. It probably won’t work as well as milk, but it could bring a little relief. Eating bread can also give some relief, because it acts as a barrier of sorts between the receptors on your tongue and capsaicin.

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