Is it true that spicy food is addictive and damages the taste buds, and can a person who is used to spicy food return to a regular diet? The journalist talks about this with gastroenterologist Svetlana Domozhirova.

– It is believed that spicy food is addictive and a person constantly increases the amount of spices and sauces that he consumes.

– In part, this is true. Acute disrupts the sensitivity of human receptors responsible for taste. If you regularly eat spicy food, then ordinary food will no longer seem so tasty and interesting. As a consequence, a lack of sense of proportion in spicy use may develop. Despite the beneficial properties of hot spices, they should not be abused, since such a diet is not the basis of a healthy diet and can harm the body.

It is known that some people like spicy food, while others do not. It has to do with sensory perception, which is different for everyone.

The experience depends on the cultural and historical preferences of certain groups of people, the characteristics of the national cuisine. There is a higher tolerance for spicy foods that develops over time. That is, if a person has been familiar with spicy food since childhood, then over time such food is comfortable for him to use.

Susceptibility to spicy foods is determined by sensitivity to pain perception. We feel spicy food on our tongue precisely with pain receptors – the so-called TRPV1, also known as capsaicin or temperature receptors. The more TRPV1 receptors, the stronger the pain stimulus obtained by eating spicy food. Therefore, such people are more sensitive to it and cannot eat such food. If there are few such receptors or a person has their genetically altered sensitivity, he can eat more spicy.

Can spicy food damage taste buds?

– No, but with regular consumption of spicy food, especially in large quantities, it changes the sensitivity of the receptors. Capsaicin, found in spicy foods, causes short-term numbness in the mouth and loss of sensation to protect the body from pain. Taste buds send a signal to the brain about a burning sensation in the mouth, and the brain, in turn, begins to produce endorphins to block the pain, which causes numbness. The feeling of loss of sensation is completely reversible.

With age, taste sensations decrease. But spicy food has nothing to do with it. Like most other cells, taste buds replace each other throughout life and wear out and die over time.