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Water and Spicy Food: Here’s the 411

water and spicy food

Spicy food has been a part of human cuisine for thousands of years. From the chilies used in ancient Mayan and Aztec cuisine to the fiery curries of India and the hot sauces of the Caribbean, spicy food is loved by many. However, one thing that can be challenging when eating spicy food is the burning sensation that can occur in the mouth and throat (Sometimes it's just a bit too much for us). Many people reach for a glass of water to soothe the burn, but is water really the best choice?

Today we want to talk about whether or not you should drink water with your spicy food and what you may want to drink instead.

Here's what you need to know about water and spicy food.

The Science Behind Spicy Food

The heat in spicy food comes from a compound called capsaicin, which is found in chili peppers. Capsaicin binds to the receptors in the mouth and throat that are responsible for detecting heat, causing them to send signals to the brain that the mouth is on FIRE. This is why eating spicy food and different types of hot sauces can make your mouth feel like it's burning, even though the temperature of the food is not actually hot.

Why Water Doesn't Help

When you drink water after eating spicy food, it can actually make the burning sensation worse. This is because capsaicin is not soluble in water, so it doesn't dissolve or wash away when you drink water. Instead, the water can actually spread the capsaicin around your mouth and throat, making the burning sensation more intense.

pouring a glass of water

What to Drink Instead

So, what should you drink instead of water to soothe the burn of spicy food? One option is milk. Milk contains a protein called casein, which can help to break down the capsaicin and wash it away. Other dairy products like yogurt and cheese can also be effective.

If you don't like dairy or are lactose intolerant, you can try drinking something acidic like lemonade or lime juice. The acid can help to neutralize the capsaicin and reduce the burning sensation.

Another option is to drink something sweet, as the sweetness can counteract the heat. Flavored water, such as cucumber or mint-infused water, can also be a refreshing choice to help cool down the mouth and throat after eating spicy food.