Now that this hot weather is really set in, what can we do to help us deal with it a little better and help us cool down?

We all may feel the urge to reach for something cool to eat, but you will benefit much more by eating something Chilli based rather than a frozen yoghurt or ice cream. You would be doing yourself a massive favour!

People have long combatted the hot weather by eating spicy food. While it may initially seem a tad counterproductive to indulge in some hot sauce or salsa while baking in the sun, but I can promise there is  amazingly sound evidence to suggest it will help you cool down.

 What’s the secret? SWEAT!

Hot Chillis like Scotch Bonnet, Red Birds Eye, Naga, Habanero or even more milder varieties such as Jalapeno & Cayenne get their heat from the chemical Capsaicin which acts as an irritant on humans. When you indulge in foods containing Capsaicin, it triggers a neural responses from your body. Yale professor Barry Green explained this in much more detail in the Scientific American. The Spice from these foods excite the receptors in the skin that normally respond to heat. Our nervous system reacts to whatever the sensory system tells it is happening.  Meaning that the pathway of activity from both the pain and warm nerve fibres trigger sensations of physical reactions of heat, including vasodilation, sweating, and flushing.

The “burn” you feel in your mouth from eating spicy food can be followed by a similar warming sensation across the rest of your body, causing you to sweat as you eat. Sweating is one of the primary methods the human body has to regulate its temperature. Specifically, it’s the evaporation of sweat that removes heat from your body. So as long as you stay hydrated while eating spicy food, the perspiration that comes from enjoying culinary delights with a kick of heat, will force your body to cool itself much more quickly and more efficiently.


Now knowing you can cool yourself by eating spicy foods, its not that handy if you don’t like or in some instances even handle the CHILLI! Don’t worry though! If your mealtime has become a little stale, or boring, even inspirationally poor? As they say, it’s never too late! You can turn and begin to enjoy the burn!

Reacting to CHILLI is controlled by a neurotransmitter called Substance-P…P for Pain no less! In a relatively subtle moves, substance P depletes slowly and takes time, sometimes days sometime weeks to replenish, meaning eating CHILLI often, your literally building up a tolerance for hotter and hotter foods as your ability to detect their presence goes down while gaining numerous health associated benefits.

There are not any special manoeuvres you can do to tolerate CHILLI based foods other than putting in some practice, then some more practice. The more you practice, the better you become!

Begin with very  small doses of CHILLI added to your food on quite a regular basis. Then, work your way up to hotter dishes and feel the benefits.

Within a couple of weeks you could be enjoying all the benefits explained, as well as loving the tastes and flavours of the numerous hot, hotter and extreme heats of CHILLI!




Nathalie Riva
Nathalie Riva


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