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Not everyone grows up eating spicy food
For many people, the love of spicy food comes from exposure to new things and a willingness to experiment with the unfamiliar. As with exercise, building a spicy food tolerance involves training your body; in other words, learning to love spicy food takes time and practice. It’s very possible, if your put both your body and mind to it. Let’s break down how to ramp up your tolerance for heat.
The Genetic (Nature) Aspect of Spice Tolerance
In 2012, a study was conducted on identical twins (who shared the same genetic makeup) and fraternal twins (who were genetically distinct) to discover the extent to which genes play a part in spice tolerance. Researchers hoped to find that the genetically identical twins would have the same sensory reaction to spicy food. Sensory tests were carried out on group participants who liked and disliked spicy food; the non-likers rated the sensation as intense and unpleasant, while likers had the opposite reaction.
The study found that there was a common genetic factor that regulated responses to spicy foods. The results revealed that genetic factors accounted for 18% to 58% of the variation in the enjoyment of spicy food, which allowed the researchers to conclude that spice tolerance does have ties to genetics.
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Risks associated with spicy foods
Spicy foods offer many health benefits, but they may not be for everyone. For example, spicy foods can trigger symptoms for people with certain gastrointestinal issues, like gastroesophageal reflux disease (acid reflux).
Hot peppers that contain capsaicin can also burn your eyes or face. Therefore, it’s best to wear gloves when handling them. Additionally, consuming too much spicy food can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea, so if you aren’t used to eating spicy foods often, start small to build up your tolerance.
2. Spicy food improves heart health
Spicy foods may also improve overall heart health. Studies have found that spicy foods increase circulation and lower blood pressure. They do this by stimulating the release of compounds that expand blood vessels, Shapiro says. Capsaicin in particular also decreases inflammation, which has been shown to be a risk factor for heart disease.
Spicy foods can also lower your cholesterol, which improves your heart health and reduces your risk of heart disease . A small 2017 study found that participants who took two 4mg capsules of capsaicin a day for three months had improvements in blood cholesterol levels compared to the control group.
Another very large 2017 study out of the University of Vermont examined the connection between heart health and consumption of red hot chili peppers over six years. It found a 13% lower incidence of death from causes, such as heart disease or stroke among participants who consumed the peppers.
Find Out Your Genetic Likelihood of Spice Tolerance
Is spice tolerance genetic? Genetics and everyday habits combine to determine an individual’s spicy food pain tolerance. Next time you’re at a Mexican restaurant and you can’t handle the heat of the salsa, don’t point your finger at your parents. To avoid a face-melting sweatfest, consistently eat a little spice over time and you’ll train your body to handle the heat!