लोग मसालेदार खाना क्यों पसंद करते हैं...? Why do people like spicy food?


Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India


Eating spicy food can literally be a painful experience for some whereas some love spicy food.  During my Visit to Japan, Japanese friend of mine asked me to take him to Indian restaurant in Japan. He told me that he would like to eat spicy food. I ordered for him Dal Tadka medium spicy. We started our dinner after ¾ bites Japanese friend started sweating profusely I asked him is it too hot , he said yes but I like it  Do you know why we sweat when we eat spicy food?

Not everyone likes it hot. What makes certain foods spicy, and why do only some people like them?

You will be surprised to know that spiciness is related to temperature sensation and not related to test. In other words scientifically speaking the chemicals that make food spicy don't target taste receptors, but rather temperature receptors in the tongue. Spicy food doesn't make the list of classic tastes alongside sour, bitter, sweet, salty and umami (meaty test).

In addition to its taste buds, the tongue also has different temperature sensors, some of which are triggered by spicy foods to create a literal burning feeling. So it's not an exaggeration to say that Indian or Thai food packs some "heat."  The "spicy" chemical that ignites your tongue is called capsaicin the chemical compound found in Chilli..  

 Capsaicin (the chilli compound) triggers temperature sensitive points on the tongue. And raises    temperatures around  40 degrees Celsius and higher in the mouth.   In other words, capsaicin tricks the receptor into sending burning signals to the brain at just  33 C, Prof.  Hayes said. So your mouth feels as if it's burning even though it's at mouth temperature, or roughly 35 C, he said.

  Black pepper and the highly acidic vinegar can also trigger  "burning" sensation in the mouth.  While garlic,  and mustard oil all interact with a separate temperature sensitive points and not create that much burning sensation. "The party line is that humans are the only animals that actually enjoy this [burning feeling]," Hayes said. Most animals are repelled by the experience.

There are several theories as to why humans enjoy spicy foods despite the sometimes-painful experience like my Japanese friend.  A 2016 study   showed that a person's risk-taking behaviour was a good predictor of their spicy food preference. It all comes down to whether you get some kind of reward or rush from the pain or risk. 

Spicy food consumption may also come down to a personality trait that's reinforced in some social groups or cultures. A 2015 study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that men in Pennsylvania were more susceptible to external or social motivations for spicy food than women. So there may be some link between spicy food liking and perceived by manfolks. Some of the first studies on spicy food preference hypothesized that spicy food consumption was related to the idea of machismo.

"There's also a genetic component that hasn't been fully explored, For example, Indians can tolerate much hotter food than Europeans. It's well known that as people eat more spicy food, they become desensitized to capsaicin. But some people are also born with different or less-functional capsaicin sensors, giving them a higher spice tolerance from the start, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior. A lot of the variation in spicy food preference is genetic variation, Nolden said. 

For people who have lost their sense of taste, spicy foods may be a gateway into enjoying a meal. For instance, chemotherapy given to cancer patients can change taste sensors.  in the mouth, meaning that foods may taste bitter, metallic or otherwise different than before. Because spicy food is detected by temperature sensors and not taste sensors, its hot sensations may still be felt. In fact, some studies suggest that cancer patients look to spicy foods to increase their sensory experience during or after chemotherapy. (The author has his own study and views)