Yes – But you may end up with altered taste buds. Spicy foods contain a chemical called capsaicin, which binds with receptor cells in your skin to produce a burning effect akin to physical heat, says Verena Tan, a food science and nutrition lecturer from Temasek Polytechnic.
When you bite into a chilli, receptors in your cell membranes (in the mouth) send a rush of pain messages to your brain. It thinks it’s under attack and releases a flood of endorphins to fight back. “The endorphin high is similar to a drug response,” says Larry Greenly, who tastes roughly 100 tongue-scorching sauces every year as a judge for the US Scovie Awards (a spicy food competition).
Frequent exposure to spicy foods can kill the fibres of your receptors. But the effect is temporary, says Tan, and there’s no harm done to your body. The only side effect: You may soon find non-spicy food boring.