Why Do People Like Spicy Food?
There are many angles in which we can approach the question. For one, we can explore all the health benefits that would attract people to spicy food. Another explanation could be related to culture and climate – that spicy food preferences are a product of ecological conditions.
Lastly, we can observe it from a more sinister angle, that people are, in fact, consuming higher levels of spicy food because they are addicted or seeking an escape.
1. Because Of Our Bio-evolutionary History
A book entitled, The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, suggests that consumption of spicy foods is actually a cultural adaptation against food-borne pathogens (particularly those found in meat) since many spices have antimicrobial properties.
The author points out that spicy foods are especially common in countries with hotter climates. This is not a coincidence as bacteria infestation was a greater problem in those places prior to the invention of refrigeration.
2. Because Spicy Foods Are Healthy
Perhaps people are increasingly drawn to spicy foods because of their health benefits. One paper published back in 1999 answers the question in its own headline: “Darwinian Gastronomy: Why We Use Spices: Spices taste good because they are good for us“. Turns out, there are quite a few health benefits of spicy foods:
A study carried out by Harvard and China National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, found that if you eat a spicy food every day for six or seven days per week, your mortality rate lowers by 14 percent.
Data from studies worldwide shows that spices, can raise your metabolism resting rate as well as reduce your appetite.
Spicy food can combat inflation, reduce intestinal gas, cure diarrhea and act as a natural remedy for cramps. Oh and may even help in fighting cancer cells.
Spicy foods potentially promote a healthy heart by dilating the blood vessel to aid in blood flow. This can can lead to a decrease in blood pressure.
3. Because People Are Getting Addicted to Spicy Foods
It is no secret that spicy can cause pituitary gland and hypothalamus to release endorphins. These trigger happy chemicals give you an instant feeling of pleasure, which of course can be addictive.
Perhaps people crave the spiciness of food just the same way they crave something sweet or salty? Or maybe they are looking for a way to escape, a brief relief, from ever increasing rates of anxiety and depression.
Or maybe they just feel something in an era of intense overstimulation. Perhaps, such a bombardment of stimulus in the smart phone era is actually dulling our senses, giving up a higher tolerance to spice.