It is undeniable that some of the most delicious dishes in the world are spicy. However, for those who naturally can’t handle spicy foods, it can become a barrier to experiencing new flavors. If you find yourself in this situation but still want to enjoy the pleasure of eating spicy foods, you can learn how to increase your spice tolerance. Check out the tips right here.
What is So Good About Spicy Foods?
While the spiciness of food can be painfully disturbing, there are people, like Indonesians, who love to consume spicy dishes daily. It’s because the burning sensation experienced in the mouth triggers the receptors to send a “pain alarm” to the brain. In response, the brain releases a hormone called endorphins, which have an analgesic effect, providing comfort from the burning sensation.
The surge of endorphins in the body creates a sense of pleasure, acting as a way to release stress and making the consumption of spicy food enjoyable. In addition to the release of endorphins, research has shown that spicy foods with a fiery taste can have positive impacts on health.
Cleveland Clinic has listed some of these benefits, such as improved metabolism. A good metabolism contributes to better weight management by aiding in the breakdown of body fat. Studies also indicate that capsaicin, found in spices like chili or pepper, may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. In moderate amounts, capsaicin also helps stimulate a healthy gut flora, which has a positive impact on the gastrointestinal tract.
6 Steps on How to Increase Spice Tolerance for Beginners
With all the benefits of spicy foods, you can try several tactics to improve your spice tolerance. By doing so, you may be able to enjoy the perks that come with better handling of spiciness. Check the tips below :
1. Take a Smooth Beginning
When you embark on something new, allow your body to adapt. Instead of diving straight into the highest level of spiciness, enjoy the process starting from a milder level. There are various types of spicy spices, ranging from bell peppers to peppers, each with different levels of heat. Start by trying a small amount of a milder spice level. Incorporate it into one of your snacks or daily meals. If you can handle this level comfortably, then you can move on to the next tips.
2. Train Slowly yet Regularly
Start by incorporating at least one spicy dish into your weekly meals, just like training other parts of your body for sports. This tip helps your taste buds become accustomed to the flavors and sensations of spiciness.
When eating spicy foods, the hot and burning sensation may tempt you to eat quickly, almost like a “panic attack.” However, to help your taste buds adapt, try to eat slowly. Train yourself to savor not only the spiciness but also the other flavors that come along with it.
The length of time it takes to increase your spice tolerance can vary depending on various factors. However, if you don’t experience any stomach discomfort and the process goes smoothly, you may start seeing results in just a few months.
3. Watch Your Breathing Technique
While trying to savor all the flavors in each bite of your spicy dish, pay attention to your breathing. You can release the hot breath through your mouth. So take a note to breathe properly without forcing yourself to eat the spice.
4. Try The New Level through Different Dish
Gradually increase the level of spiciness, but only when you no longer feel any spiciness from your mild spicy food, or when the current level becomes mild for your taste buds. You can track your progress by tasting different kinds of dishes.
This way, you will not only experience different levels of Tabasco or Sriracha, but also expose yourself to a broader spectrum of spice agents, such as various types of chili, with diverse taste compositions.
5. Pair The Dish with Carbs
If you want to learn how to eat spicy food without feeling the heat, you can adopt a trick commonly used by people in Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, spicy food is often paired with carbohydrates such as rice and fried potatoes. Additionally, side dishes with rough textures like tapioca, shrimp, fish crackers, and crispy fried shallots can be helpful.
Carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, and rice have the ability to absorb some of the capsaicin compounds, preventing them from intensifying the spiciness on your taste buds. Moreover, the rough-textured side dishes act as distractions for your tongue, diverting its attention away from the heat caused by the spices. As a result, this tactic makes it easier to enjoy spicy food without feeling the burning sensation in your mouth.
6. Cool Your Stomach with The Right Companions
Throughout the training process, it’s beneficial to occasionally challenge yourself with excessively spicy dishes. When you find the hot sensation in your mouth unbearable, avoid reaching for water to cool off. Dairy products such as milk, yogurts, butter sticks, or sour cream are better options to soothe the heat in your mouth and stomach.
In Indonesian and other Southeast Asian cuisines, coconut milk is commonly used as a cooling agent in their dishes. Alternatively, you can rely on acidic ingredients or drinks to help neutralize the spice.
Alongside milk, other acidic beverages like lemonade, orange juice, and limeade can provide relief. Cilantro, tomato-based dishes, celery, or cucumber are also alternative side dishes that can help tame the heat.
Are There Specific Types of Food to Build Spice Tolerance?
There is no definitive answer to this question as you can choose from a wide range of spicy dish variations based on your personal tolerance. Starting with your favorite snack or dish may allow for a smoother adaptation. Additionally, condiments like sambal, a traditional Indonesian hot sauce, offer extensive variations in spiciness levels.
In Indonesia, sambal is almost always present along with the Indonesian daily meal. Its various variations create a new taste for each dish you have. It can be paired with various carbohydrates, including potatoes, rice, and corn.
If you’re curious about Indonesian sambal and interested in building your spice tolerance, why not train yourself by incorporating Indonesian sambal into your meals? You can get Indonesian instant chili sauce from Nyahtewel. Their sambal tastes super good and delightful to be combined with your meals.
- Can you increase your tolerance to spicy food?
Yes, with regular exposure to capsaicin, the compound that triggers the spicy sensation, you may improve your spice tolerance. However, you also should know your limit. If you’re experiencing a repeated upset stomach after consuming spicy foods, learn that it may not be for you and stop.
- What makes your spice tolerance higher?
Having a regular habit of eating spicy food and gradually increasing the spiciness level will help you to get a higher spice tolerance. Train yourself slowly, from the mild, to modest then to higher spiciness and spice variation little by little. Do not force yourself to adapt quickly. It needs time.
- Why is my spice tolerance so low?
Studies say that spice tolerance has a genetic factor. In a more complex explanation, it relates to the fact that our tongue and mouth have a receptor which is called TRPV1, that is responsible for detecting pain and temperature. People who have fewer TRPV1 receptors on their mouth and tongue have a lesser level of sensitivity to fiery food. Otherwise, the more you have a TRPV1 receptor, the more sensitive you are to the spiciness, which makes your spice tolerance might be low.
- Can you train yourself to like spicy food?
Yes, it is possible for you to train yourself to like spicy food. This is actually doable for most people. Yet, some people have a sensitive stomach which makes this harder. Therefore, when implementing the tips of how to increase spice tolerance, make sure to pay attention to your limits.