Spicy peppers evolved for millions of years to avoid being eaten, but why do we love eating them so?
People who live in warm climates are attracted to spicy foods because the red-hot seasonings keep people healthy, according to a scientist at Cornell University, New York.
Early cultures embraced the temporary discomfort of spicy food in order to avoid the much more uncomfortable experience of food poisoning. It turns out that the bacteria that contribute to food diseases such as salmonella hate spicy food just as much as your lips do.
The places where extra hot foods became standard are almost always regions where warm climates are the norm, (India, South-East Asia, Mexico, Jamaica, Uganda)
Bacteria thrive in warm, wet conditions, but spices such as garlic, onion, cumin, and chili have strong antibacterial properties. So people living in warmer climates soon learned they could be added to food to inhibit the growth of harmful germs, and thus reduce the chance of getting E. Coli.
The mild pain that came with the spice became a signal that meant, "This food is clean." After that, it's not hard to convince the brain to interpret that pain as pleasure -- the same way the "burn" of hard liquor tells your brain that you’re going to have more fun.
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