It’s only natural for all Malaysians to enjoy spicy food. Some of us can’t even get through an entire meal properly if there isn’t anything spicy on the table. However, there is a rare species of Malaysians who actually prefer the non-spicy life. No cili padi, no sambal belacan, no curry, nothing. How to live like this!?
Well, as hard as it is for you to believe, it’s true! Regardless what race you are, a LOT of Malaysians actually can’t tahan pedas. If this is you and you wonder why some of your friends can finish an entire plate of cili padi (and still ask for more) without drinking water, here are some reasons why:
1. They have lesser pain receptors
To be specific, you have lesser transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) receptors. The TRPV1 is basically the receptor responsible for detecting hot temperatures as well as spiciness. When it is stimulated (by cili padi for example), the receptors will transmit pain that leads to a burning sensation which you usually feel when eating spicy foods.
According to a research, certain individuals can tolerate spicy foods better because they have lesser TRPV1 receptors or their receptors are just less sensitive.
2. They’ve been given spicy food as a child
Like many other things, the more we practice, the better we get at it. Same goes to spicy foods. If your parents love spicy food and they used to give you a bit to try every now and then when you were younger, odds are your body already built a tolerance towards it.
In fact, according to a study done by the Sensory Evaluation Center, the more you take spicy food, the more you will crave for it.
3. Speaking of cravings, they’ve probably had so much spicy food growing up that they’re actually somewhat addicted to it
Individuals who crave spicy food don’t just do that because it tastes good but because it makes them feel good too. So much so that when they have anything spicy, they get an endorphin rush in their bodies. What’s more, this release of endorphin–aka happy hormones–in the body usually only happens when someone is exercising or taking drugs. However now studies show that it could be present in people who enjoy spicy food too.
And when the endorphin rush happens, it helps block some of the burning sensation that the pain receptors are supposed to pick up. Instead, the individual just feels happy. Who knew spicy food could legit be addictive?
4. It’s inherited from their parents
Yes, besides inheriting our parents’ rugged good looks and talents, we also inherit their love for all things spicy. A study from Finland done on almost 200 individuals found that 18-58 per cent of those who enjoyed spicy food had shared genes. Meaning either one or both of each of the participants’ parents also enjoy spicy food.
5. They’re female
According to another study, it was found that more females actually enjoyed spicy food compared to men; and women who enjoyed spicy food are also the thrill-seeking ones. For men on the other hand, the study found that men were mostly driven to like spicy food just to show off their masculinity.
Then again, this doesn’t mean all men don’t enjoy spicy food and it definitely doesn’t mean all women can take spicy food either; but generally speaking, women are the larger group when it comes to enjoying spicy food.
At the end of the day, if you want to “train” yourself to better “tahan pedas”, just slowly add spicy foods into your everyday meals. Slowly but surely, you’ll be able to take spicy food just as well as your cili padi addicted friends. What’s most important is you enjoy your food and you eat healthily.
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