Do you slather your food in Sriracha sauce or top everything with Tabasco? If so, a new study from the British Medical Journal says you could actually live longer than those who aren't putting much "spice" in their life.
A half-million people in China took part in the study and in the end, researchers found those who ate spicy foods as little as twice a week reduced their risk of death by 10 percent.
Up the spicy intake to six times a week and that number increases to 14 percent. Sounds good, right? We thought this might be too good to be true. While we don't want to rain on your pepper parade, we do want to set the story straight. So here's the good and bad news.
One of the biggest benefits of eating spicy food (especially jalapenos, habaneros and cayenne) comes from capsaicin.
This "natural chemical speeds up the metabolism by increasing heart rate and body temperature. The best time to eat spicy food is with a heavier meal during lunch or dinner. It will stimulate the digestive tract."
Fountain of Youth
The study found eating spicy food could help you live longer. But what about looking younger?
Spicy food can slow down the aging process by increasing blood flow to the face and body. This makes skin look and feel more youthful. Any foods that help with the inside of your body will make you look better on the outside.
Spicy foods are an excellent way to relieve sinus congestion and open up the breathing airway.
Spicy food not only helps people with sinus conditions potentially decrease their symptoms, but it also helps increase blood flow and overall circulation which improves healing properties.
For centuries, chili peppers have been noted as being medicinal. Since they are chock full of vitamins like A and C, they can help boost the immune system and even fight the common cold.
Spicy food acts as an antioxidant and blood thinner, which aids in heart disease by improving cardiac blood vessel strength. Talk about heart healthy!
Spicy food can help with pain and healing by increasing blood flow to an affected area.
This can be also be good for people with auto immune diseases, Parkinson's and even asthma sufferers. Finding spicy foods with the highest concentration of capsaicin is key. For example, raw chopped peppers would be very high in capsaicin and potentially the most beneficial.
Who knew spicy food can actually kill stomach bacteria? This is a big benefit as the peppers help prevent further infections throughout the body.
One of the most interesting things about spicy food is that it can heat up your body when it's cold out and, surprisingly, can cool your body off when you are hot. Eating spicy food makes you sweat and sweating actually helps your body temperature regulate itself. So while it may seem strange, definitely put more heat on your food when the heat is on.
While capsaicin has benefits, it also has some downsides. Capsaicin can be a very potent irritant. It can cause damage to the lining in the stomach, which in turn can cause gastritis, stomach ulcers and even intestinal disease such as colitis. Ouch!
A Bad Burn
You may like the burning sensation spicy food has on your tongue, but the flipside to that is spicy food can also cause heartburn and/or reflux disease. The reason being: its acidic and irritant properties can cause a rather unwanted effect once it hits your insides.
If you experience any of these conditions after eating spicy food, you should consider adding a side of cream or yogurt to your dish. This may help protect the digestive system by neutralizing the burning potential and temper the irritant properties that can cause harm.
When paired with a cooked or raw vegetable, you'll lessen the burn.
If spicy food causes indigestion or GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux) then it is best to avoid such foods.
While you may think spicy food is enhancing the taste of your food, spicy foods can also cause damage to the taste buds hampering your sense of taste.
This might be the reason why over time you feel like you can turn up the heat even more on your favorite foods — or explain why you can eat the Buffalo wings with the "too hot to handle" sauce.
You probably won't want to tell your friends if you suffer from this spicy side effect, especially not while eating!
Spicy food can worsen hemorrhoids by causing further damage and irritation. It can also make IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) worse, and even potentially cause diarrhea. Not fun.
If you've ever chopped peppers at home you may know about this unwanted side effect. You are chopping and seeding when all of the sudden you rub your eye.
You should be careful not to touch your eyes if handling anything spicy and you may not realize it, but even after hand washing it may still be on your skin. To be safe you may want to wear gloves and take them off and discard them immediately after preparing the pepper.
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