This Is Why Drinking Milk Helps When You Eat Spicy Food

Have you ever gone overboard with the red pepper flake shaker on your pizza? Or perhaps you felt bold enough to order extra spicy instead of medium on your favorite take-away red curry. Whatever the situation is, when we come into contact with food that is too spicy, the need for a refreshment becomes priority numero uno. But before your reach for the tall glass of water filled with ice cubes screaming your name, consider a glass of milk first.

That's correct. The drink that is most associated with being cereal's best friend and a creamy addition to your coffee should be the drink of choice if the sweat is starting to pour down your temples and your mouth is on fire. Why? Let's break down the key players in this situation. According to Psychology Today, chili pepper — the guilty culprit of the unbearable heat in your mouth — contains an active component called capsaicin. And milk contains a protein called casein. Capsaicin and casein go together like a mop to a muddy floor. Or like shampoo to day four of unwashed hair. What we're trying to say is that casein works as a detergent to rid your mouth of the burning sensation caused by the active compound capsaicin.

The milk must be from a mammal

It is important to note, however, that in order to neutralize the fire in your mouth, the milk must come from a mammal (via Psychology Today). Other variants — such as almond milk or soy milk — do not contain the soothing protein casein. That said, what kind of milk works the best? MSN notes that researchers conducting a study on the effects of drinking milk after eating spicy food found that both skim milk and whole milk did the trick. In contrast, water actually had the opposite effect. The researchers noted that if you drink water after eating spicy chilies, the water can actually spread the capsaicin to other areas of your mouth and intensify the pain. So next time you chow down on some jalapeno poppers or douse your meal in hot sauce, consider keeping a glass of milk nearby. It may just be the smartest thing you do for yourself that day.