Discover what tucking into a ruby does to your body
When that scalding vindaloo hits your tongue, neurons on your taste buds rush messages to your brain: heat, pain, lots of exclamation marks. It’s all to do with a volatile compound called capsaicin. “Capsaicin is fat-soluble, not water-soluble, so beer will only fan the flames,” says Cath Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital in London. But that won’t stop you trying.
So hot right now
Your body tries to cool down by bringing blood vessels closer to the surface – causing you to go beetroot and sweat like Lindsay Lohan being breathalyzed. But according to a study at Nottingham Trent University, your body counters this heat by releasing endorphins, which will make you feel good. Soon you can’t wait for your weekly dose of pain, much like Chelsea fans.
It’s not just your mouth that feels hotter than the devil’s backside. “Capsaicin binds to the mucus membranes leading to your eyes, nose and ears,” says Collins. “Your eyes and even nose attempt to neutralise this irritation with moisture.” So if your nose starts running like an Italian soldier blame vasomotor rhinitis.
“Extremely spicy foods strip the stomach’s protective barriers, burning its lining,” says Collins. They can also cause acid reflux, as your stomach struggles with the heat. As well as burning your throat for the second time, the acid could leave you waking up with Pete Doherty’s teeth.
Ring of fire
“That capsaicin locks on to specific pain-sensitive nerve receptors,” says Collins. As you drop the kids off at the pool, any residual capsaicin is smeared on to the sensitive skin, leading to burning. But a hot curry can also save your life. “Turmeric contains curcumin, a natural antibiotic that combats everything from dementia to colon cancer,” says Collins. So, it’s not only Jennifer Lopez’s hot arse you should be after.