why do our noses run when we eat spicy food
It wouldnÁt be a St. PatrickÁs Day celebration in the Windy City without 400,000 spectators crowding the banks of the Chicago River to ÁoohÁ and ÁaahÁ at its (temporarily) emerald green tinge. But how do officials turn the water green? First, a bit of history: The dyeing tradition became an annual thing nearly 60 years ago, in 1962, but its real origins go back even further. In the early days of his administration as Mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daley was a man on a mission to develop the cityÁs riverfront area. There was just one problem: The river itself was a sewage-filled. In order to get to the bottom of the cityÁs pollution problem and pinpoint the exact places where waste was being discarded into the waterway (and by whom), Daley authorized the pouring of a special green dye into the river that would allow them to see exactly where dumping was occurring. Fast-forward to late 1961 when Stephen BaileyÁpart of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local, the cityÁs St. PatrickÁs Day Parade chairman, and a childhood friend of DaleyÁsÁwitnessed a colleagueÁs green-soaked coveralls following a day of pouring DaleyÁs dye into the Chicago River. That gave Bailey
: If they could streak the Chicago River green, why not turn it all green? Three months later, revelers got their first look at an -colored river when the city poured 100 pounds of the chemical into the water. They got a really good look, too, as the river remained green for an entire week. Over the next several years, the same practice was repeated, and again it was carried out by the Plumbers Local.
The only difference was that the amount of dye used was cut in half over the next two years until they finally arrived at the : 25 pounds of dye = one day of green water. Unfortunately, the dye that was intended to help spot pollution was an oil-based fluorescein that many environmentalists was actually damaging the river even more. After fierce lobbying, eco-minded heads prevailed, and in 1966 the parade organizers began using a powdered, vegetable-based dye. While the exact formula for the orange powder (yes, it's orange until it's mixed with water) is kept top-secretÁin 2003 one of the parade organizers a reporter that revealing the formula would be akin to Átelling where the leprechaun hides its goldÁÁthere are plenty of details that the committee lets even non-leprechauns in on. The dyeing process will at 9 a. m. on the morning of the parade, Saturday, March 17 (it's always held on a Saturday) when six members of the local Plumbers Union hop aboard two boats, four of them on the larger vessel, the remaining two on a smaller boat. The larger boat heads out onto the water first, with three members of the crew using flour sifters to spread the dye into the river. The smaller boat follows closely behind in order to help disperse the substance. (The to catch a glimpse is from the east side of the bridge at Michigan Avenue, or on Upper and Lower Wacker Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drives. ) Approximately 45 minutes later, voila, the Chicago River is greenÁbut donÁt expect it to stay that way. These days, the color only sticks around for about.
Which is roughly the same amount of time it takes to get a perfectly poured pint of Guinness if you venture out to an Irish pub on St. PatrickÁs Day. Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at. why spicy foods can cause your nose to run. In most spicy foods, this is thanks to the same chemicals that cause the burning sensation on your tongue, namely capsaicin or allyl isothiocyanate. á Capsaicin is chemical found in fruits of the genus Capsicum, which includes peppers. It is present, usually in relatively high amounts, in the placental tissue that holds the seeds of the peppers, as well as in lower concentrations in other parts of the fruit. The capsaicin works as a deterrent to stop various animals, particularly mammals that would crunch the seeds, from eating the fruits or otherwise harming the plants or seeds. It also functions as an anti-fungal agent, which further protects the plants. Allyl isothiocyanate, on the other hand, is a colorless oil that can be found in things like mustard, radishes, and wasabi. á Like capsaicin, it serves as a defense for the plant against various animals, as well as works as an anti-fungal agent. These chemicals end up not only causing a ÁhotÁ sensation on your tongue, but also irritate the mucous membranes in your nose, causing them to become inflamed. á This triggers those membranes to produce extra amounts of mucous as a defense mechanism to try to keep out whatever unwanted substance or particles are causing the irritation.
This same type of irritation is why your eyes may also become watery when you eat very spicy foods. á The capsaicin or allyl isothiocyanate can irritate the membranes in your eyes, causing your tear ducts to kick into overdrive trying to wash the irritant away. á This can make your nose even more runny as some of the tears drain into your sinuses. Capsaicin and allyl isothiocyanate also irritate various tissues inside your body, such as your intestines. á This causes your body to react by trying to flush the irritant out. á This is why after eating spicy foods you sometimes have the dreaded Áliquid fireÁ poop. If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (, ), as well as: This Árunny noseÁ effect can be used to your advantage when you are nasally congested. á At those times, eat some very spicy foods and your sinuses will clear out in no time. Capsaicin also has the effect of dilating blood vessels. á This can result in people becoming flushed as they eat very spicy foods. Birds do not have the necessary receptors which bind to the capsaicin causing the burning effect. á As a result, they can eat the pepper seeds with no ill effects. á These seeds then pass through their system and eventually are pooped out, which ultimately gives a nice environment for the seed to eventually germinate wherever it is pooped. Capsaicin is fat soluble and, thus, water will be of no use in countering the burning sensation, other than the fact that if it is cold water it will temporarily overpower the capsaicinÁs effect on the nerve receptors and tell your brain you are feeling a cold sensation. á But once the cold water has gone, the heat will come back straight away.
Dairy products work best to counteract capsaicin because they contain a protein called casein which binds to the capsaicin, hindering its ability to bind to your nerve receptors, which helps move it through your system faster and without it affecting your body as much. A cold sugar water solution is almost as effective as drinking cold milk in terms of hindering the capsaicin from binding to your VR1 receptors, and thus muting the burning sensation. á This works thanks to a chemical reaction between the capsaicin and the table sugar. Tarantula venom activates the same neural pathways as capsaicin, so getting bitten by a tarantula will feel much the same as being exposed to very high level of capsaicin. Large enough quantities of capsaicin may cause your skin to turn blue-ish, severely inhibit your breathing, cause convulsions, and possible eventual death. á However, the minimal amount of capsaicin in peppers makes it unlikely youÁd ever come in contact with enough of this to have this actually happen, unless someone sprayed law enforcement grade pepper spray directly down your throat or the like. Capsaicin was originally called ÁcapsicinÁ, named by Christian Friedrich Bucholz who was the first person to extract it in an impure form from plants in the genus Capsicum. á It was later renamed to capsaicin by John Clough Thresh who was the first person to successfully isolate capsaicin in nearly pure form.
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