Why Your Brain Thinks Your Tongue is On Fire When You Eat Spicy Food


Ever wonder why spicy foods are so darn hot, and why you can’t stop eating them?  This video from Ruth Eveleth and Ted-Ed, which is chock full of hot (heh) food facts, will reveal everything you wanted to know about spicy food.

It turns out that when you eat something spicy, the compounds in the food activates sensors called polymodal nociceptors.  These sensors exist all over your body, and they’re used to determine whether we’re hot or cold.  So, when they’re activated on your tongue, your brain thinks you’re actually burning — which is why most people start sweating and their hearts begin to pound.  The same “flight or fight” response you’d experience facing a 4 am fire alarm is coursing through your body.

There are also different compounds for different kinds of spice. Chili and black pepper contain alkylamides which stay in your mouth, while mustard and wasabi have isothiocyanates which travel straight into your sinuses. That’s why your nose burns after eating wasabi, but your mouth burns from Tabasco.

For more fun facts on the hottest peppers (the Trinidad Moruga and the Carolina reaper), the history of spices, and how to build up your tolerance, check out the full video below.


Science Says Chewing Popcorn at the Movies Makes Us Immune to Ads

Going to the movies is definitely fun, but sitting next to a loud, lip-smackin’ popcorn-eater ruins the experience in about .2 seconds. Now, according to researchers at Cologne University, snacking during a flick significantly disrupts the effectiveness of pre-movie advertising, too.

Their findings go a little something like this: whenever our brains are introduced to a new brand or name, we very subtly practice its pronunciation with our mouths. The “inner speech” helps a message become engrained in our minds, essentially benefiting the advertisers. However, there’s a big kink in this sort of product placement whilst snacking; the act of chewing can actually interrupt an ad’s effectiveness.

In order to prove this theory correct, the researchers brought 96 people to a movie theatre, giving half popcorn before the movie and the other half a dissolvable sugar cube. According to researcher Sascha Topolinski, “the mundane activity of eating popcorn made participants immune to the pervasive effects of advertising.”

Does this mean an impending doom to cinema snacks? While we can all agree Popcorn Patty needs to take it down a notch, we’re pretty sure riots would break out if that ever happened. Don’t even think about messing with our movie theatre nachos.

H/T The Guardian


Science Takes It Back, Says Bacon Will Help You Live Longer


Looks like those 3 extra pieces of bacon you had for breakfast this morning were actually saving your life. OK, that might be pushing it, but we’ve got good news for you pork lovers out there. Researchers at ETH Zurich just uncovered that foods packed with niacin – Vitamin B3 – are linked to a longer life. A team of researchers fed a selection of roundworms a good dose of niacin and the introduction of this new element increased their lifespan by one-tenth longer, in comparison to their Vitamin B3-deficient worm friends.

You can find niacin in paprika, sun-dried tomatoes, marmite (yech), peanuts but most importantly bacon. The study purports that niacin fools the body into thinking that it’s performing physical exercise, even if you might just be channel surfing on the couch. If you were thinking about scooping up that bacon-covered donut for dessert later today, you might as well, just consider that taking a tip in the fountain of youth.

Note, roundworms do not equal people. So, take this all with a grain of salt(ed bacon).

H/T GeekOSystem


Once Again, Science Says Coffee Can Kill You


I’d like to think of myself as a pretty reasonable coffee drinker. One cup in the morning and that’s it, unless I simply can’t make it through the rest of the day without a mid-afternoon latte. But no matter what I do, someone’s always telling me that I’m drinking too much or not enough, and that my coffee is actually full of cockroach pheromones.

Usually coffee news is pretty good: it helps reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, protects your brain, and can even reduce potential suicide risk. But now, drinking too much coffee has been linked with a higher risk of death in people under 55. Uh, thanks, science. WTF.

In a recent study, presented by Mayo Clinic and written by several “leading” cardiologists, researchers observed over 40,000 people between the ages of 20 and 87, who filled out questionnaires about their life habits between 1979 and 1998. After following up with subjects seventeen years later, over 2000 people had died, and researches found an association between the deaths and subjects who had consumed more than 28 cups of coffee a week.

What does this mean? Well, if you’re under 55, you are 21 percent more likely to die if you drink a ton of coffee. That means all nighters, chugging the brown stuff to make it through work, and an endless barrage of coffee dates could someday be fatal. Ugh. First froyo, now this.

I’m hoping the health benefits might still count if I stick to my reasonable habits. But for you coffee junkies out there, maybe think about switching to green tea for now. At least, until science ruins that for you too.

H/T Huffington Post + PicThx Olma


Science Says Eating Lunch at Your Desk Makes You Sad, Stressed, and Boring


We’ve all been victims of the dreaded desk lunch: a sad salad, wilted sandwich, or microwave meal eaten mindlessly while staring at a screen.  The lunch break is disappearing and we’re none too pleased about it, especially as a recent study has shown that going out to eat, preferably with a group, resulted in higher relaxation and potentially increased creativity and connection to others.  And yes, the opposite is true for when you take your “break” at your computer to drool over clothes on Pinterest that you’ll never buy.


The German study, published in PLOS ONE, explores the consequences of meal contexts on emotional and cognitive well-being. The 32 subjects were split into two groups, one, which ate alone, and one which ate a leisurely meal in a restaurant with others. After the meals, the researchers tested the subjects for semantic memory and their ability to process emotions in others.  Subjects also filled out questionnaires ranking their mood. The researchers found that more positive moods were reported by the subjects in the social lunch condition.  They also had less cognitive control, which is linked to better perceptual processing, recognition of emotions in others, and creativity.

Don’t end up like  the 65 % of poor saps who eat lunch alone at their desks or don’t eat at all.  When you’re trying to convince your boss that you need a lunch break, tell them it’s been shown that having extra relaxation time can boost your productivity. People with established and socially engaging lunch breaks are clearly getting the better end of the deal.


Need some inspiration? Check out Not Sad Desk Lunch for some ideas of what to make when you do finally take that hour.

H/T Huff Po + PicThx Sad Desk Lunch


Now You Have a Reason to Live: Coffee May Lower Suicide Risk by 50 Percent


Turns out all the boys and girls standing in line for a latte are doing it right. A recent Harvard study revealed that caffeinated coffee may lower the suicide risk in both men and women by 50 percent.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed data from three large-scale studies in the US, comparing the risk of suicide among adults who drank two to four caffeinated cups per day to that of non-coffee drinkers, those who drank decaf and those who drank significantly less coffee per day.

The study was published in the  The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry and included a total sample of more than 200,000 subjects who were monitored over a period of at least 16 years. Results indicated that the suicide risk for people who consumed two to four cups per day was about 50 percent less than the risk for participants in the other three groups.

Note: while other drinks such as tea and soda also contain caffeine, the levels pale in comparison to coffee. “Caffeine from coffee is about 80 percent caffeine intake,” stated Michel Lucas, the team’s lead researcher. “In one cup of coffee, you could have about 140 mg of caffeine.” In comparison, you get about 22-74 mg in tea.

“Unlike previous investigations, we were able to assess association of consumption of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages, and we identify caffeine as the most likely candidate of any putative protective effect of coffee,” explained Lucas in a statement.

Lucas attributed the lowered risks of depression and suicide to the effect caffeine has on the brain’s neurotransmitters that influence our emotions.

Of course, it’s all in moderation.

“Overall, our results suggest that there is little further benefit for consumption above two to three cups/day or 400 mg of caffeine/day,” stressed the study.

Bolstering the benefits of coffee, Huffpo observed, “Last year alone, published research linked moderate coffee intake with delayed Alzheimer’s onset, lowered risk of heart failure and reduced risk of basil cell carcinoma — the most common type of skin cancer.”

Seems like this is just further proof that our favorite beverage can do no wrong.

Oh, and am I drinking an iced coffee with an extra espresso shot while writing this? Damn straight.

H/T Huffpo


Science Says Testicles and Anuses Have Taste Receptors, Time to Invest in Bacon Condoms!


Next time you’re stuffing fistfuls of delicious bacon into your mouth, you might want to consider sticking a piece or two of crispy goodness into your crotch, then up your butt for good measure. No, I’m not suggesting you develop a kinky bacon fetish (although experimenting with bacon condoms is always a good idea), I’m just a firm believer in enjoying the maple-hickory goodness with all of your body’s taste receptors. Including the ones chilling on the tops of your testicles and at the entrance to your anus. Yeah, you read that right: if you have testicles, you also have a gorgeous set of taste receptors right at the tippy tops of your gonads, just waiting to approve or disapprove your flavored condom choices. The same goes for the neat cluster of taste receptors sitting just inside your anus, although we feel kind of bad for that particular part of your anatomy . . . something tells us Nature gave them the sh*tty end of the stick.

If you’re worried that taste is about to become more of an anal and testicular than an oral pastime, don’t be — the taste receptors in your anus and testicles aren’t likely to overwhelm more traditional forms of taste any time soon. In fact, your non-oral taste receptors (which, by the way, are also present in your stomach, intestines, pancreas, lungs, and brain) are pretty much limited to tasting sweet and umami flavors (like the kind contained in bacon, for example). None of your non-oral taste receptors come close to the tasting power of your tongue, however, so you probably won’t be tasting your toilet paper.

At this point, though, you’re likely less concerned with where the funky taste receptors are and more curious about why any possible evolutionary process would slap some taste receptors where the sun don’t shine. Unfortunately, science doesn’t really have an answer. . . yet. Scientists discovered the unusual taste receptors while studying fertility in rats, and they know that taking away male rat’s testicular taste receptors rendered them permanently sterile. So we know that, somehow, tasting the delicate bouquet of ballsweat flavors is vital to the reproduction process, we just don’t know why. Researchers will continue to study the link between flavor receptors and reproduction, and we’ll continue to pretend we don’t know any of this information. At least until the next time we grab some bacon-flavored condoms.

H/T Business Insider + PicThx Jezebel


Well, We’re Doomed: Science Says High Fructose Corn Syrup as Addictive as Cocaine


We’d like to think there’s a big difference between handing a kid a can of soda and offering him a line of cocaine, but new research on the link between high fructose corn syrup and addiction suggests otherwise. Canadian researchers from the University of Ontario studied lab rats’ reactions to increasing doses of high fructose corn syrup (you know, the sweetener that’s in everything from soda to bread) and determined that it produced reactions “similar to those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine.”

Once the rats were all hopped up on high fructose corn syrup, they were given access to a lever that controlled how much syrup they received. The more concentrated the syrup, the harder the rats worked to obtain it . . . which, coincidentally, is also true of serious cocaine addiction. The Canadian researchers hypothesized that an unacknowledged addiction to the high fructose corn syrup that sweetens most of our favorite foods could be responsible for the planet’s growing obesity epidemic. If it’s true, this could be a major blow for snack food and soda companies, many of which have gotten away with selling products containing much more high fructose corn syrup than the federal limit would allow.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re gearing up for a full fledged drug war on soda and candy bars (despite what Mayor Bloomberg might think). Still, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on the nutrition label of our favorite snack foods, and if we start seeing people go into shock from candy bar deprivation . . . well, then we’ll know we have a problem.

PicThx Intellihub