Spicy food contains a compound called capsaicin, which triggers a response in your body. When you eat spicy food, the capsaicin binds to receptors in your mouth and throat, sending a signal to your brain that your body is being exposed to something hot. In response, your body tries to cool down by producing more mucus. This excess mucus can cause your nose to run. Additionally, the capsaicin can irritate the delicate membranes in your nose, leading to further mucus production. So, the next time you eat spicy food and your nose starts to run, it’s just your body’s way of trying to cool down and protect itself.
Do you ever indulge in salsa? How about spicy chicken wings? Are you someone who douses everything in sriracha sauce? Spicy food may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly has a large fan base!
Have you ever had a spicy meal? If so, you must have noticed the various effects it has on your body. Your mouth starts to burn, your salivary glands go into overdrive, and you might even start sweating! Another common effect is a runny nose. But have you ever wondered why spicy food causes your nose to run?
The heat in spicy food usually comes from chili peppers. There are different types of chili peppers, but they all have one thing in common: they contain a substance called capsaicin.
Capsaicin is an irritant. When you consume capsaicin, your body reacts as if it’s dealing with an allergen. As soon as your body detects capsaicin, it goes into defense mode. Your mucous membranes produce extra mucus (snot) to flush out the capsaicin.
This response occurs throughout your body. When your nose starts to run, it’s because the mucous membranes in your nose are producing excess mucus. But it doesn’t stop there – the membranes in your stomach also produce extra fluid in response to the heat that gives spicy food its flavor. Capsaicin truly sets your insides into a frenzy!
Does this make spicy food seem dangerous? In most cases, it isn’t! Many doctors claim that capsaicin is actually beneficial for your health. It’s found in many pain-relieving creams, and there may be a connection between capsaicin and maintaining a healthy weight, heart function, and artery health.
A runny nose is definitely annoying, but the burning sensation in your mouth is even harder to ignore. Unfortunately, water doesn’t always alleviate the heat! Thankfully, there are other ways to combat the spiciness.
The best way to cool your taste buds is by consuming dairy products. A large glass of milk does the trick. If milk is not available, try a teaspoon of sugar or honey. Other options include eating a slice of bread or milk chocolate.
Many people enjoy the taste of spicy food, and now you know it might have some health benefits! However, always prioritize your safety when consuming your favorite spicy meal. Some chili peppers can be harmful, especially if you’re highly sensitive to capsaicin.
Have you ever watched videos of the ghost pepper challenge? If so, you are already aware of the dangers of certain peppers. Eating a ghost pepper on its own can cause severe pain, so don’t feel pressured to try it!
Nevertheless, adding some spice to your next meal is perfectly fine. Interested in giving your dish a real kick? Consider adding a Carolina Reaper, which is currently the world’s hottest pepper as of 2019. Can you think of any ways to incorporate it into your next meal? Just make sure to have plenty of tissues on hand!
Give It a Shot
Remember to enlist the help of a friend or family member for these activities:
- Is your family a fan of spicy food? Get assistance from an adult friend or family member to prepare a family dinner. Accompany them to the supermarket to select the spicy ingredients you will use. Afterward, request their help in preparing the meal. If your family does not enjoy spicy food, that’s alright! Join them on their next trip to the grocery store and discuss the different types of peppers available in the produce section.
- Curious about how people measure the spiciness of food? Explore the Scoville scale! Where do your favorite foods rank on the scale? Compose a paragraph explaining what the Scoville scale is. If any of your favorite foods are mentioned on the scale, include them in your explanation.
- Learn more about capsaicin. Then, share your newfound knowledge with a friend or family member. What is the most fascinating fact you discovered about capsaicin? What questions do you still have?
- http://time.com/5566993/why-spicy-food-makes-your-nose-run/ (accessed 30 May 20109)
- https://www.pepperscale.com/why-does-your-nose-run-when-you-eat-spicy-food/ (accessed 30 May 20109)
- https://www.medicaldaily.com/dont-feel-burn-5-best-remedies-cool-your-tongue-after-eating-spicy-food-279930 (accessed 30 May 20109)
- http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/hottest-chili (accessed 30 May 20109)