Dr Karl answers this 'burning' question about spicy food

1 min read

Dr Karl answers a question for the ages: why does spicy food burn on the way out?

If there is one type of great-tasting food that somehow still makes you question why you ate it in the first place, it has to be spicy food. Good ol' sweat-inducing spicy food.

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The problem for most people is that whenever spicy food is consumed, those moments of tastebud heaven are usually followed by a case of - to put it delicately - "burning whilst on the way out". Yeah, it's not a pleasant experience, and yet most of us can't explain why this happens. 

Well, this is where Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and his encyclopedic knowledge of stuff comes in.

Following last week's question on why broccoli tastes bad to some of us, the good doctor is back to answer another "burning question" from a curious triple J listener - "how come when I eat spicy food, it burns my bum on the way out?"

That is a very good question, and good ol' Dr Karl has a pretty good answer for it:

"On your tongue, you have special receptors for heat, and those receptors for heat react to capsaicin, the active ingredient in chillies. People have a variable number of these receptors down there.

I've not been able to find a significant paper in this, but I've spoken to some people who get a really hard burn on the way out, and some people get nothing. Birds have got zero receptors at all, so they can eat chilli and spray it around the world widely."

So really, it's the luck of the draw as to whether or not you suffer burning sensations down there after eating spicy food, and if you do experience burning, well, that's just unfortunate!

 

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