You read that right. If your brain, like mine, refuses to make and regulate neurotransmitters like Dopamine then let me share this fun fact with you. You can make your own.
A chemical compound called Capsaicin is found naturally in hot peppers and is what makes your spicy food so spicy. That hot feeling in your mouth is not actually a flavor, but a physical sensation. When introduced to surface cells on your tongue it creates a similar effect to actually being on fire. Your brain then says “Hey self, is that fire we’re on?” and immediately initiates your body’s pain response to help relieve the burning.
The first step in the pain response is to release endorphins. See, you’re already feeling a little better. Endorphins block your body’s ability to send pain signals and in turn dull that burning sensation. At the same time, your brain releases some dopamine to trick you into feeling pleasure and distract from the fact that you should have ordered your Indian take away medium instead of hot. If you eat large amounts of spicy foods, you can even experience a sort of “runner’s high” of excess endorphins and dopamine that create a euphoric feeling.
Personally, I have always loved spicy food and now have a reason to eat even more. Have you ever noticed a change in your mood after eating spicy foods? What are your favorite spicy foods or recipes? Let me know in the comments. – DQ