What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Spicy Foods


What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Spicy Foods

What if there was one thing that you could do today to give yourself a shot at living a longer life? Would you do it? The answer is probably ‘yes,’ unless of course the secret to longevity involves millions of dollars, crazy fad diets, or some sort of crazy surgery. But what if that one thing you could do to live longer was easy, inexpensive, and delicious? By now, the answer should be a definite ‘yes.’ The great news is that something as simple as incorporating spices into your diet might indeed increase longevity.

For thousands of years many cultures have hailed the health benefits of certain spicy foods. Spices found in traditional Indian cuisine, for example, have been scientifically proven to provide health benefits, even so far as slowing the progression of carcinogenesis (think cells becoming cancerous due to toxins). One study, published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which focused on turmeric, a spice often used in Indian dishes and also in Indian traditional medicine, found that “both turmeric and curcumin were found to increase detoxifying enzymes, prevent DNA damage, improve DNA repair, decrease mutations and tumor formation and exhibit antioxidative potential in animals.” This same study also found that other spices such as garlic, onions, and ginger also had a positive effect when it came to slowing down the nasty effects that carcinogens have on the body.


So, what is it about spices that makes them work such wonders in the body? The answer my lie in what is actually in the spice. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric. Similarly, capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers, another spicy food believed to provide health benefits. Another study published in the Beijing Medical Journal found that capsaicin could actually fight inflammation and boost metabolic rate.

Since scientists are finding that it is the active ingredients in these spices that provide these health benefits, it’s important to know what spices to try. For spices that contain curcumin, shown to possibly help fight toxic carcinogens, try curcumin itself or turmeric. These can also have anti-inflammatory effects. For spices that contain capsaicin, think hot! Cayenne, jalapeno, habanero, and chili peppers are all rich in capsaicin. When it comes to chili pepper and cayenne though, make sure you stick with fresh peppers rather than dried, as studies indicate that the dried versions may not have the same positive effects as the fresh.


Even though there is no cure for cancer, diabetes, or many other chronic ailments, the benefits that spices provide play a part in a larger scheme that may help people live longer and live better. The anti-inflammatory and metabolic benefits of capsaicin, for instance, can help promote and maintain a healthy weight, which in turn has other positive effects on the body. Similarly, the detoxifying effects of curcumin can help the body fight off carcinogens, which may lead to a longer life.

www.apjcn.nhri.org  www.bmj.com

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