Inverse: Why Does Spicy Food Make You Sweat?

One of Federica Genovese‘s fondest memories of spicy food is how her grandmother would eat a plate of pasta: with a fork in one hand and a Calabrian chili in the other, she would alterate bites of pasta and chili. Genovese believes that as her grandma’s sense of smell and taste deteriorated with age, she actually became a more adventurous eater. Genovese’s mother, on the other hand, starts sweating the moment someone cuts into a pepper, no matter how far she is from the kitchen.

Most people lie somewhere in the middle. A neuroscientist and research associate at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Genovese knows all about how spicy food elicits various physiological reactions. Indeed, sweating bullets while eating well-seasoned hot pot is fairly common.

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