Imagine you are at a fancy restaurant with a friend, and your friend orders a spicy delicacy for you both.
While you are soaked in tears, sweat, and snot eating that dish, you find to your surprise, that your friend is having the time of their life enjoying the food.
Have you ever wondered why this happens?
Why do some people enjoy spicy food while others cannot stand it?
Well, research suggests that the secret lies in your genes.
Did You Know? Genes Influence Your Bitter Taste Preference.
What Causes The “Heat” When We Eat Spice?
The taste buds present on our tongue can taste salty, sweet, or sour foods.
However, there are no receptors to taste spicy food.
Therefore, the heat you feel from spicy food is a pain sensation.
Chilli peppers have a component called Capsaicin that makes them hot and spicy.
This component binds with a receptor called TRPV1 on the tongue, giving a heat sensation.
This receptor is involved in regulating your body temperature.
Repeated exposure can gradually make this receptor less sensitive.
Is Spice Tolerance Genetic?
Spice tolerance has a lot to do with genes.
A study conducted by researchers on identical and fraternal twins reported this.
While identical twins have a lot of genes in common and grow up in the same environment, fraternal twins have fewer genes in common.
When the subjects were fed jelly spiked with Capsaicin, the identical twins showed matching preferences for spicy food.
Another study reported that genetics accounted for 18-58% of the variation in spicy food preferences.
It shows that spice tolerance has much more to do with genetics than environmental conditioning.
Is There A Spice Gene?
There is no specific spice gene in the body.
However, people with a higher spice tolerance might have fewer TRPV1 receptors.
These receptors bind to Capsaicin, the spice component present in chili peppers.
Is There A Link Between Spice Tolerance and Personality?
Some people prefer spicy food to others.
It might have a surprising connection with their personality.
People who are thrill seekers and are more adventurous might like spicy food.
People who take more risks and enjoy otherwise scary situations like an extreme roller coaster ride might like spicy food.
Are There People Who Can't Taste Spiciness?
People who love spicy food and don't find it painful have fewer Capsaicin receptors.
It is not that they cannot taste the spiciness altogether, but they feel less pain and heat.
Over time, eating spicy food can desensitize nerve endings, resulting in a higher spice tolerance.
People from Mexico, Korea, or India are naturally more tolerant of spicy food because they consume them regularly.
They have become desensitized to the pain from a young age.
How To Improve Spice Tolerance?
You can always build your spice tolerance levels.
The TRPV1 receptors on your tongue open up and let sodium and calcium ions in, which generates pain sensations in your brain.
Over time, the calcium ion production is reduced, desensitizing you to the pain and heat.
An excellent way to do this is to include small amounts of spicy food in your diet.
Try introducing a little chili flake on your pizza, or add some chili powder to your curry.
Over time, this will make spicy food less painful and more enjoyable.
Summary: Is Spice Tolerance Genetic?
Spice tolerance is mainly genetic.
Capsaicin, the spice component found in chili peppers, can elicit pain when binding to the TRPV1 receptors.
People who have fewer TRPV1 receptors are less sensitive to spicy food.
Spice tolerance also has a lot to do with someone's personality.
Spice tolerance can be gradually built by eating small amounts of spicy foods over time.