What are the effects spicy food and alcohol on the body?

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Offline the lab

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I am doing some research for a series of programmes about food and drink and I would be truly grateful if any of you kind people can answer the following questions for me?

Scientifically, what happens to the body when one eats really really spicy food?

Why does 'shot gunning' alcohol/an alcopop get people drunk quicker? What is it about downing a drink with a straw in?

How does igniting a spirit/cocktail such as a 'flaming lambourghini' (kahlua, cointreau, sambuca and curacao combo) make the drinker drunk quicker?

Many thanks, any help will be greatly appreciated.

« Last Edit: 19/07/2016 23:33:30 by chris »


Offline NakedScientist

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Re: The effects Spicy food and alcohol on the body.
« Reply #1 on: 29/06/2004 03:50:17 »
How much are you paying for this consultancy service [;)]

The active ingredient in spicy food is capsaicin, a small oil-loving molecule which locks onto nerve fibres that signal pain and activates them. You notice the effects of chilli at the 2 ends of the digestive system (the polite end and the rude end) because these regions are densely supplied by pain fibres. You notice chilli less between the 2 ends because the intestines are innervated by nerves predominantly sensitive to stretch and distension, and the gut walls are also covered by a protective watery-mucus barrier, which keeps the capsaicin off.

Regarding alcholic drinks, the only reason that 'shotgunning' a drink makes you drunk faster is because you are taking in more alcohol more quickly. More alcohol means more pi**ed. It's a fallacy that mixing drinks makes you drunker. The main determinant of how drunk you become is the total amount of alchohol consumed, whether the alcohol is consumed on an empty stomach, and your ability to handle the alcohol (volume of distribution (i.e. body size) and metabolism (i.e. liver size !)).

Lighting drinks probably doesn't make you much drunker much quicker for any reason other than that outlined above. By lighting the drink you might heat it up a bit and encourage more alcohol vapours to hit the nasal membranes, increasing the absorption, but it's a tall order.

So anyway, if you could send the cheque to the address on the contacts page (http://www.thenakedscientists.com/html/contacts.htm), that would be great...