I have always loved the tangy kick of a well-known brand of hot sauce called Franks Red Hot but no matter how much I eat it still seams hot to me every time. Now, with new sauces being continually introduced to the market and the heat levels increasing I really want to try them all but I have such a low tolerance to the heat. How do I build a tolerance to hot sauce?

The most natural way to build up a tolerance to hot sauce is to eat it regularly, gradually increasing the amount of sauce each time. Training your body to accept the “pain” that a hot sauce could cause is the best way to build a tolerance.

First, of course, you must really enjoy hot sauce like I do. Here’s my problem. I love the flavor of hot sauces but don’t have a high tolerance for the heat. That’s not entirely true, I do have somewhat of a tolerance, but I just don’t understand someone’s acceptance of the heat as being a satisfactory experience. I have managed to deal with it using techniques I wrote about in ” 6 Things To Do If Your Hot Sauce Is Too Hot”, and also keep a bottle of anti-acids handy, but anything hotter than a jalapeno just isn’t enjoyable unless the heat is weakened.

Gradually increase the amount eaten

Gradually and consistently use your favorite sauce more on foods that you don’t typically put it on. Start with smaller doses and work your way up to larger amounts. I don’t always keep hot sauce in the refrigerator and most often eat it as a treat when I am at a friend’s house or dining in a restaurant. Consuming it regularly and slightly increasing the amount used every time will build a tolerance.  

Try other spicy foods

Trying other spicy foods will give your palate a well-rounded acceptance of all things spicy. Ethically spicy foods can create a much different approach to the way your mouth perceives the heat. A wasabi seems to go right through my nose and the front of my face whereas a hot sauce hits my tongue and throat.

Expect the heat

This may seem obvious but if you anticipate the level of heat from anything containing spice and know how to deal with it you can tolerate the substance better.

Can some people tolerate hot sauces more than others?

Your nerves can become desensitized to hot sauce, therefore building a tolerance. This is either done, as suggested above, by consuming more or just accepting the pain. Possibly people are born with pain receptors that are less sensitive states Popular Science and this is true of a lot of our genetics. Whatever techniques an individual uses to accept pain can be used to fight burning sensation of hot sauce.

Are some cultures less sensitive to hot sauce?

People from cultures where hot sauce is consumed regularly at meals will have a higher tolerance than those that do not. In fact, some infants in India are given small doses of chili powders so they become accustomed to the heat. In Mexico hot sauces are a customary staple on the dinner table so they are growing up with these flavors.

This same principle can be applied to why people in America are gradually increasing their consumption and tolerance. Many people from cultures where these spicy foods are consumed are migrating to the United States and introducing these spicy flavors.

How does personality effect tolerance?

Studies have shown that people who have a thrill-seeking personality are more likely to eat hot sauce and will try sauces that were hotter than the last. It sounds like a manly man contest to me. Overall, as a population, consumers are seeking more and more heat in theirs dishes on the dinner table and in restaurants.

Also, the “burn” of hot sauce is a pain and if you do have a higher tolerance for pain than you will have a higher tolerance for hot sauce.

Do genetics play a role in hot sauce tolerance?

Some people are born with less TRPV1, the receptor in the brain that senses pain. It is this same receptor that senses the heat of a hot sauce. If it is decreased by what you have inherited than you will have a higher tolerance to hot sauce. Our DNA can tell our sensitivity to foods and food allergies, which will dictate which foods are best for our diet.

Is hot sauce tolerance passed through cultures and generations?

I don’t want to be stereo typical, but it seems as though people who come from a culture where spicy foods are consumed are more likely than others to have a higher tolerance for hot sauce. Is this due to the typical foods consumed being very spicy or is the tolerance passed through generations? Genetics are strong and there is a lot that we gain from our parents, relatives and ancestors.

Whether you are entering a hot sauce eating contest, dining regularly with someone who enjoys spicy foods or just simply have a low tolerance for hot sauce but want to enjoy the flavor (like me), there are ways to build a tolerance.

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