The urge to gulp down something nice and cool during this icky, summer heat is not unnatural. Cool water running down your parched throat has to be the best feeling ever. There are those who particularly avoid spicy food during summers because it does not really go well with the weather. But there's research that proves otherwise.
Apparently, the sweat released after a good helping of some spicy food could be a way to beat the heat. That's right. Spicy food results in you getting all sweaty, which is also the body's most natural way to release heat. As Yale professor Barry Green explained in Scientific American,
…spicy foods excite the receptors in the skin that normally respond to heat…The central nervous system reacts to whatever the sensory system tells it is going on. Therefore, the pattern of activity from pain and warm nerve fibers triggers both the sensations and the physical reactions of heat, including vasodilation, sweating, and flushing.
The burn you feel in your mouth is followed by your entire body warming up, which in turn results in sweating. The sweat is then evaporated which leaves your body cool. Stay hydrated with a good spicy meal and it will result in your body cooling quickly and more efficiently.
But one person's spicy could mean another person's bland. According to food science writer Jeff Porter,
The reaction to hot peppers is governed by a neurotransmitter called substance P (P is for pain; go figure). In one of nature’s more subtle moves, substance P can be depleted slowly and takes times—many days, possibly weeks—to replenish, meaning that if you eat hot foods often, you literally build up a tolerance for hotter and hotter foods as your ability to detect their presence goes down.
There's no other trick in the book other than developing a tolerance for spicy food. Start with small meals and work your way up to the hotter, spicier dishes.
So, what's on the menu?