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Let It Burn: The Health Benefits of Eating Spicy Food

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Hot sauce, salsa, fresh chilies, and other spicy foods get a bad rep for being unhealthy or potentially dangerous. However, there is evidence to prove that adding a little spice to your life may help improve your health in more ways than one.

The University of Chicago Medicine has based some of their research on spicy foods off of an extensive population-based study published in BMJ in 2015 which states that ‘Compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 6 or 7 days a week showed a 14 percent relative risk reduction in total mortality.’

Where does the ‘burn’ come from?

Capsaicin is an ingredient that is found in different types of peppers and dried powders that makes them extra hot. It is also available in the form of dietary supplements, topical creams, and skin patches. Healthwise, a nonprofit organization founded by the University of Michigan mentions that capsaicin aids in pain relief by stimulating and decreasing the intensity of pain signals in the body. 

Health Benefits

→Pain Relief

The burning sensation that follows biting into a chili pepper or eating a spicy curry is the same sensation that can help combat pain. Using capsaicin in the form of a topical ointments or patches, eating fresh chilies, or taking It in supplements can help relieve pains from:

  • osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • psoriasis
  • surgery pain
  • mouth sores
  • nerve damage caused by diabetes
  • shingles
  • migraines
  • allergies and congestion

→Heart and Gut Health

Penn Medicine mentions that research has shown that consuming peppers is associated with a 13 percent lower incidence of deaths from heart disease and stroke and that these people often have lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (‘bad cholesterol’). Contrary to popular belief, capsaicin is considered a medicine for preventing ulcer development in people who take anti-inflammatory drugs. 

→Weight Loss

Capsaicin may help boost the metabolism which helps the body burn more calories while exercising and during its resting state. Patient includes information from nutritionist Emma Derbyshire on the relationship between weight loss and capsaicin, stating that the properties in the compound may contribute to weight loss by reduction in energy intake. Which means that eating spicy food could potentially make you consume fewer calories and help curb unhealthy cravings. There are many weight loss products on the market. According to Brain Reference, these supplements can be effective but cannot replace a healthy diet and exercise routine. Data across numerous studies have shown that eating spicy food may help:

  • raise metabolic resting rate
  • lower appetite
  • curb fatty cravings

In Conclusion

  • Spicy food is healthy 
  • People who often experience discomfort from common disorders such as IBS, IBD, etc. may have to keep track of whether eating spicy foods makes their symptoms flare up. 
  • If you love spicy food or cut your own chilies use gloves and don’t touch your eyes!
  • Start small and work your way up
  • Don’t take the warning labels lightly

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