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LuckyGuy's avatar

Do you sweat when you eat spicy Mexican or Indian food?

Asked by LuckyGuy (29401 points ) February 16th, 2013

I just ate a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant and 3 minutes into eating my Enchilada Special Combo, began sweating profusely. My hair was wet. I had sweat dripping down my cheeks. I had to keep wiping my face and neck to stay presentable. It is winter here and the relative humidity indoors is low, probably around 30%, and I was still dripping.
This also happens to me if I eat Indian food.

Why does this happen? What physiological process is taking place? Are “sweaters” (or “dewers”, for the ladies) better or worse off for it?
For those of you in the Tex/Mex area, do folks there sweat too?

Note to self… Never go to a Mexican or Indian restaurant for a date.

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31 Answers

bookish1's avatar

No. I just release heat from the top of my head. It’s an Indian thing. :-p

LuckyGuy's avatar

I should add the temperature in the restaurant was not warm, It is well below freezing outdoors now so most restaurants are reluctant to set the heat above 18C, 65F. Most patrons are wearing warm clothes. Try as you might, you won’t see a miniskirt and heels around here – unless it is on a mannikin in a department store.

janbb's avatar

Spicy food is supposed to make you sweat and thereby cool you. That’s why many hot countries have spicy cuisines.

Here – have a hanky!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I always love a good sweat. Heat is good.

marinelife's avatar

Not usually. I have a friend that used to happen to.

CWOTUS's avatar

This reminds me: I got a nice sweater for Christmas! Your question made me recall it.

˙ɥbnoɥʇ ’ɹǝɯɐǝɹɔs ɐ ɹo ɹǝuɐoɯ ɐ pǝʇuɐʍ ʎןןɐǝɹ pɐɥ ı

2davidc8's avatar

No, but I get a runny nose.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@2davidc8 Yeah spicy stuff clears out the sinuses big time. It’s great for allergy season.

Kardamom's avatar

I don’t, but my SO’s head sweats profusely and his hair gets very damp. We both get runny noses. I think I’m more immune to the hot stuff than most of my friends and family. I love good spicy food : P

Kind of ironic, though, when I was a little kid I couldn’t drink soda because I thought it was “too hot” and it burned my tongue, just from the carbonation. I still don’t like soda, but mostly because it tastes terrible.

LuckyGuy's avatar

My nose also runs. So tell me again… why did l eat that stuff?
When I looked around the restaurant I didn’t see anyone else wiping their necks with a napkin.
Do Mexicans sweat when they eat Mexican food?
@bookish1 Do you wear a pagri too?
@janbb Thanks for the hanky. Who knew I’d need a shmata at such a restaurant?
@Adirondackwannabe In this weather heat is good. The problem is the sweat freezing when I go outside.
@marinelife. Ahhh. So I am not the only one. That’s a relief.
@CWOTUS ˙ɹǝʍoɥs ɐ ɯoɹɟ ɥsǝɹɟ ɹǝʇɐǝʍs ɐ uɐɥʇ ɹǝʇʇoɥ buıɥʇou s,ǝɹǝɥʇ
@2davidc8 My nose runs too. Lucky me. I get to double my pleasure I guess.
@Kardamom Does he enjoy the food even though he sweats like that? I have decided it is not worth it. I’ll stick with sushi.

Kardamom's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yes! He definitely loves to eat spicy food, despite the sweating. Our favorite is Indian food.

bookish1's avatar

@LuckyGuy : Naw, I didn’t even know that word, so thanks for teaching me. But my folks don’t wear turbans. I do wish I had a lungi though.

Shippy's avatar

No can’t say I do and I will eat whole chillies! (cooked).

LuckyGuy's avatar

With all the sweating, does this mean I am better prepared for hot climates, or worse?
I am a hairy guy and do not like the heat.
@Kardamom @marinelife Was your S.O./friend also hairy? I am of Russian descent. (generations ago). Were they?
@bookish1 Check out this nice set of lungis
@Shippy If you can eat such hot food without sweating, sorry, ... dewing, do you think you are better adapted to hot climates? Do you enjoy being in hot weather?

Shippy's avatar

@LuckyGuy No, hate hot weather. Also hate very cold weather though. I think it is practice, I live in an area where Indian food rules. And I love it!

ucme's avatar

Eww, I did just fancy a snack…not now :-(

LuckyGuy's avatar

I did more research and discovered I am not the only person on the planet who sweats when eating spicy food.
Here is an article about it in Scientific American .

It really does not answer my question about what evolutionary advantage it offers. I now wonder if it is a quirky genetic trait similar to the ability to produce and / or detect the odor of asparagus pee.

@ucme A moment on the lips – a lifetime on the hips. I just saved you from carrying a little extra load around your gut. You’re welcome.

ucme's avatar

@SweatyGuy It was a delicious sandwich, much like watching a horror movie, out of sight, out of mind.

janbb's avatar

@LuckyGuy As I said above, I think the sweating cools you down and that is the advantage.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t sweat as much as I used to in these cases, but sometimes, yeah. And sushi is no escape, because the way I fling that wasabi is more likely than not to cause it, too.

CWOTUS's avatar

I revisited this question tonight because I made myself some extra-hot Chicken Vindaloo from a paste I got at Stop & Shop earlier this week.

Wow! I didn’t sweat, but I teared up big time, and that caused my nose to run. Fortunately, it’s just walking now.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Funny, I had Indian food too. My head sweated a bit – not like the Mexican food. I wonder if there is a particular spice that does it. I need to run a controlled experiment. I have a laboratory grade scale. I can wear a cotton ball cap and weigh it as I eat different foods. Hmmm… I’ll have to think about his some more.

janbb's avatar

@LuckyGuy You are such an engineer!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@janbb You have no idea…. I have the equipment to measure down to 0.01 gm right in the kitchen. It gets used almost every day. Today i used it to see if my oil tank shut off valve was still dripping. Nope! All fixed. I will PM you for some other uses.

CWOTUS's avatar

No, @janbb, he seems to be more of a scientist. The engineer would attempt to calculate “how thin / cheap a headband could I use to eliminate the effects of sweat dripping off my brow and into my eyes and my food?” OR “how hot can I make the food and still sweat, but not so copiously that I have to mop it up or deal with the drips?”

So he’s studying the “amount of sweat produced per Scoville unit”, apparently. That’s science. The engineer will use the knowledge to determine a solution to the problem.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@CWOTUS Spoken like a true scientist / engineer. :-)
I have a Mettler laboratory balance that will measure down to 0.01 gram. (one 1/100 of a ml.) That is certainly sensitive enough to run this experiment. I will also record relative humidity so I can correct for evaporation rate.

Shippy's avatar

I think Mexicans use a different chilli. The hotter one. I’m on my phone so won’t even attempt to spell it. It begins with an H!!

LuckyGuy's avatar

Habanero?

By the way, I tried a preliminary experiment to develop the study protocol. I took 150 grams of cooked nishiki rice and mixed in 3 grams of Srirach Hot Chili sauce (chinese chicken sauce). Within about a minute i began to sweat. I weighed the dry ball cap, tared the scale, and put on the cap. I then continued eating the mix about 2 minutes. I sweated for about 3 minutes and weighted the hat. 0.27 grams of sweat. Unfortunately it is extremely dry in here now. Outdoors is well below freezing and the wood burner is running at half capacity so the relative humidity is low, 30%. The sweat evaporated within about 4 minutes.
I will need to come up with a better procedure. Maybe cover outside of the cap with plastic wrap?

I hope nobody else is still following this thread. I’d hate for them to find out I was that much of a tool.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@LuckyGuy We know you’re a tool. That’s why we like you. You might be handy in case of the apocalypse. (let me check that spelling)

CWOTUS's avatar

You will also need to control for the sweat that stays in your hair. You could, of course, shave your scalp bald prior to each test. In the interests of science, and all…

LuckyGuy's avatar

@CWOTUS Good point. I could shave my head when sweating and weigh the hair before and after drying but I am too vain to shave for science. There I said it. I guess I am not that dedicated.
Instead, I’ll dab my wet head and neck with good paper towels and weigh them before and after. That will probably be close enough for a first order approximation.

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