In the United States, ice cream shops and lemonade stands are a staple for people seeking cold treats in the summer. But the opposite is true in countries like Mexico and India, where temperatures are warm year-round.

Hot tea is a staple in India, even in hot weather. And both cultures favor both hot and spicy foods. It may seem strange to add heat in an effort to cool down, but there is science to back it up.

Nerves in the tongue and mouth use receptors to help you get a sense of the world around you. They are particularly sensitive to heat, so when you eat or drink something hot, these receptors send a signal to our brain to cool down.

That’s why you sweat after sipping tea or eating chili peppers—it’s nature’s way of keeping your temperature in check. Try it the next time you need to cool down on a hot day.

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