Does spicy food dehydrate you?
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Does Spicy Food Dehydrate You?

Ever feel thirsty and dehydrated after a spicy meal? Wondering why spicy food makes you sweat? Chili powder so strong you need to chug water?

At Hydrant, we did the research to see if there’s any merit to the myth that eating spicy food is dehydrating.

Here’s what we found.



What makes spicy food spicy?

There are a lot of theories about whether spicy food dehydrates you, some more grounded than others. To confirm the myth that spicy food is dehydrating, we first need to take a close look at the science behind the molecules that make food spicy. spicy food and dehydration

Chilli peppers contain a molecule called capsaicin, a major contributor to spiciness. Generally, the more capsaicin in the pepper, the hotter is will taste. Capsaicin is found in a variety of chili pepper forms, including paprika, chilli powder, and cayenne pepper. 

Capsaicin acts on a type of nervous receptor in your body known as TRVP [1]. This same receptor is activated by dangerous body temperature increases. When capsaicin is detected by this heat-sensing receptor, you experience the spice as heat. [2] 

Spicy foods may contain a mix of numerous other spicy molecules, but capsaicin is the most common.



Spicy food and diarrhea 

Some popular health rumors suggest that spicy food speeds up your metabolism [3], but the evidence to support this is still limited [4]. 

However, there is some evidence to suggest that capsaicin has an effect on your digestion. Capsaicin and other spicy molecules are irritants to your gut, and may cause inflammation. This can lead to loose stools and diarrhea, causing you to become dehydrated through loss of water in your stool [5].



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Does spicy food make you hot? 

There is some evidence that spicy foods cause a generation of heat and an increase in body temperature. This includes foods with capsaicin, black pepper, and other common spices [6]. This increase in temperature can cause us to sweat, which is a cause of dehydration.   spicy food and dehydration

If you feel dehydrated from eating spicy foods, there may be other factors at play. For example, we often drink beer or other alcoholic drinks alongside a spicy curry, and eat in a curry house with lots of other people, where it can get very warm. Alcohol and warm ambient conditions each contribute to dehydration. 

Although there’s little evidence that capsaicin itself is dehydrating, its effects on the body can lead to dehydration. It’s always worth drinking plenty of water before, after, and during the consumption of spicy food. 

Need a counterpoint to spice? Try adding zesty lime Hydrant to a glass of water.

Writer: Ailsa McKinlay
Editor: Elizabeth Trelstad,



[1] Capsaicin. Open Chemistry Database. NIH. A quick, scientific overview of the capsaicin molecule (accessed 11/11/2018).
[2] TRPV1 transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1. NCBI Gene. A scientific summary of TRVP1 (accessed 11/11/2018).
[3] What's next in diets: Chili peppers? A summary of some data released by the University of Wyoming from their experiments looking at capsaicin’s effects on weight loss in mice. 
[4] How can I speed up my metabolism? NHS Livewell. A summary article from the UK’s National Health Service looking at what metabolism is, and what affects it. 
[5] Why Spicy Food Can Give You Diarrhea. Very Well Health. Kenneth Brown M.D. An article on the relationship between diarrhea and capsaicin.
[6] Metabolic effects of spices, teas, and caffeine. Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga et al. Physiology & Behavior. Volume 89, Issue 1. 30 August 2006. Pages 85 91. - A scientific paper on spice, tea, and caffeine's effects on metabolism.
[6] Best Electrolyte Powders is a website with a just-the-facts comparison between the five big electrolyte powder brands

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