Spicy foods get their hot intensity from capsaicin found in chili peppers. When capsaicin touches taste buds, heat-detecting neural sensors send one message to the brain: “Fire!” Capsaicin can be neutralized with certain substances that can turn down the heat. Some people can beat the heat because they regularly eat spicy foods that dull their taste buds a bit. Studies have found that regularly eating spicy foods can increase energy and metabolic levels so it might be time add some spice into your life.
So next time you put too much Sriracha on your eggs and avocado, try some of these commonly tested remedies for a burning mouth and see which one works for you:
Water – No
Chugging down ice cold water is a natural reaction for a mouth on fire. While water does temporarily stop the burn, it can actually spread spiciness around the mouth. Water and oil don’t mix, spreading the oily capsaicin rather than reducing its’ effect.
Milk or Yogurt – Yes
Milk contains the protein casein that helps break up the capsaicin and then washes it away. That is why so many Indian and Mexican foods are served with some sort of dairy. The fattier, the better. Fat also mixes with the capsaicin and dissolves it.
Alcohol – No
Alcohol could help by dissolving capsaicin oil, but there is not enough alcohol in beer to relieve the painful burn. Before you have an excuse to crack open another can, MythBusters proved that you would have to drink 10 ounces of 70-proof tequila to dissolve 1 ounce of capsaicin compound. Vodka has also been proven to be successful, but taking shots between bites will just numb you or make you even forget what you even ate. Drink responsibly kids.
Sugar – Yes
The easiest way to calm down a flaming mouth is holding a teaspoon of sugar in your mouth. Honey does the same trick. Let it sit in your mouth before spitting it out. This will coat your mouth and tame your tongue against the heat.
The exact opposite of cold water that you’d think would work. Some people swear by this small trick – gargle warm water and spit it out to dilute and remove the spices on your tongue.
Starches – Yes
Rice and bread act like a mop by soaking up the spiciness in your mouth. These starchy foods create a barrier between your mouth and capsaicin. It makes sense that spicy food is usually served on a bed of rice.
Ice Cream – Absolutely
A mixture of milk, sugar, and fat, ice cream is the ultimate coolant. This is the winner by far and we don’t mind chowing down a pint next to our spicy meal.