Did you know that unlike sweet, salty and sour, spicy is not actually a taste? When you eat spicy food, it sets off heat receptors in your tongue, and these receptors tell your brain that your tongue is on fire, which is why you start sweating, your eyes start watering and your heart beats faster. This is the same response that your body experiences when you are in danger! The opposite happens when you eat something minty – the menthol activates the cold receptors on your tongue.
This fun TED-Ed video explains what why some spicy foods burn your tongue while other spicy foods burn your nose, which are the spiciest chillies in the world, and why some people enjoy spicy food.
Research shows that even people who eat spicy food often feel the same amount of pain as those who can’t handle it – but that they eat it despite the pain because they love it!