What makes spicy food spicy?


What makes spicy food spicy?

In: Biology

Most spicy foods utilize piperine and capsaicin. These two chemicals have a reaction in your mucous membranes that stimulates nerve endings and promotes secretion of gastric acid, both of which end up causing a burning sensation.

So basically, it makes your nerves freak out.

There’s actually a chemical reaction that happens when spicy ingredients hit your tongue. This reaction releases a lot of heat. It’s why many people recommend drinking milk when you eat something too spicy; the milk stalls the reaction so you get a break from the heat.

There’s a molecule call capsaicin.
The body has sensor nerves to detect heat. These nerves work by having holes that open up if it’s hot, letting through charged atoms to cause electrical differences which eventually get sent towards the brain.
Capsaicin gets stuck in the holes and makes them open, so the brain get the hot signal.

The mustard family has allyl isothiocyanate. The pepper family has piperine. The chile (hot capsicum) family has capsaicin. Szechuan and sancho peppers have sanshools. Mints have menthol.

They’ve all developed to irritate various biological sensors to discourage feeding. Then humans came along, and took it as a challenge.