Reasons Why People Have Different Tolerance Levels for Spicy Foods
A couple of my friends got together for lunch last weekend. One of the dishes that the host served was a delectable honey sriracha meatball entrée. Most of us enjoyed the treat tremendously, agreeing that it had just the right kick. One colleague, however, would immediately break out in sweat as soon as the sauce touched her tongue. This got me thinking, how come people have different tolerance levels for spicy foods?
Early Exposure to Spicy Foods
Several studies have shown that when a child is fed spicy food at an early age, the nerve endings on their tongue get desensitized, increasing their tolerance to spicy foods as they grow up. This explains why in certain cultures, children are able to enjoy spicy foods that adults from other cultures find too hot to eat.
Researchers from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences have correlated a liking for spicy foods to certain personality traits. People who tend to seek adventure and take more risks seem to have a higher liking for capsaicin-infused foods. On the contrary, individuals who take a more cautious approach usually have a lower tolerance for spicy foods.
There have also been theories that people who have a high tolerance for spicy foods are born with fewer capsaicin receptors in their mouths. This means they are simply less sensitive to hot and spicy flavors. Some even have no capsaicin receptors at all and can actually drink Tabasco sauce without the slightest discomfort.
Despite their diverse tolerance levels, most people will agree that there is something about spicy foods that make them incredibly appealing. Furthermore, they come in a wide scale of spiciness, from mild to wild. You can also adjust the heat intensity to match your preference.
You can also check out the spicy food festivals in your area where you can enjoy a wide selection of spicy dishes from all over the world, like the Spicy Bites food festival in Toronto this summer. No matter what your tolerance level, there will definitely be a lot of spicy treats there that are just right for your palate.