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Why Spicy Food Is Good For You

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I knew there was a reason why I love curries and all sorts of peppers!:D

 

Why spicy food is good for you

 

Not a fan of the hot stuff? It might be worth getting used to: A ton of new research says it’s good for your stomach—and may even ward off disease

By Celia Milne

 

It is a long-standing myth that spicy food exacerbates ulcers and other stomach ailments. but research shows hot chili peppers actually protect the stomach lining and may prevent the gastric damage associated with anti-inflammatory painkillers. They are high in nutrients such as calcium plus vitamins A and C, and there’s some evidence that hot chilies can reduce cardiovascular disease risk, help prevent diabetes and boost metabolism. They may also have some ability to prevent cancer.

 

Just don’t go overboard: A Mexican study found people who ate the equivalent of nine to 25 jalapeños per day had a slightly raised risk of stomach cancer. (It shouldn’t be too tough for even hot-pepper lovers to stay under that limit!)

 

Toronto gastroenterologist Dr. Khursheed Jeejeebhoy sees plenty of patients in his office who avoid hot chilies unnecessarily. “Whenever people have stomach problems, they’ll say, ‘I completely avoid spicy foods in order to heal my stomach.’ There is no evidence they have to do that. Spices in moderation are to be enjoyed, and there is no evidence that spicy food is bad for you,” says Jeejeebhoy, who is an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.

 

In fact, there is a lot of evidence that it’s very good for you. Recent research tells us that hot chili peppers are an up-and-coming health power. A laboratory study in the United Kingdom, for instance, found that capsaicin, which is responsible for the burning sensation chilies provide, can kill lung and pancreatic cancer cells without harming the surrounding cells. Researchers believe this may explain why people living in Mexico and India, who eat a spicy diet, tend to have lower rates of some cancers than those eating a bland Western diet.

 

Two Australian studies provide more good news: One discovered that adding chilies to meals may protect against the buildup of cholesterol in the blood. Another found that regularly eating hot chilies reduces insulin requirements, which may have implications in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

 

So what about their effects on the stomach? Hot chilies actually decrease the output of gastric acid, says a Hungarian study. They can also reduce the stomach bleeding associated with taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as Aspirin. A further bonus: A study in Singapore found that eating chilies daily reduced the risk of peptic ulcers by 53 percent.

 

And that burning sensation you get from hot food? It’s the capsaicin stimulating your nerve endings. “It’s a bad feeling,” says Jeejeebhoy, “but there’s no evidence that it produces a cut or causes an ulceration or injury of any sort in the gastrointestinal tract.” The best remedy to the burning sensation is to build up a tolerance, he says.

 

Another huge fan of hot food is Dr. Susan Biali, a Vancouver general practitioner with a degree in dietetics. “Chilies add wonderful flavour and kick to foods, and have very few calories,” says Biali, who until recently split her time between Vancouver and Los Cabos, Mexico. She has been gradually adding more heat to her diet for years, and jokes that she can even out-chili her Mexican husband, who grew up on spicy food. “Chili is a guilt-free way to make food more flavourful, interesting and exciting.”

 

Biali calls chilies a “no-lose food” because they boost metabolism, help burn fat and keep us feeling full longer.

 

Susie Langley, a registered dietitian based in Toronto, loves to spice up meals with small amounts of hot chilies. She developed the following three recipes for Best Health readers, to help bring some healthy heat to your meals:

 

• Hot Chili Chocolate

• Chicken Curry with Chili Peppers

• Chili Pepper Oil

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I tend to eat a lot of spicier foods where I live (and it's chili-roasting season anyway). I can say, as an n=1 study only, that eating spicy foods does not lower my insulin requirements and, as someone with gastroparesis, it can cause stomach upset, especially pared with high fat food. It tastes sooo good though! I'd rather have some roasted green chili in my breakfast burrito or homemade chicken enchiladas than not. I think that this would also depend on how 'processed' the spicy foods are. Think about it, you aren't going to get the same levels of Vit C from some canned jalapenos or red chili sauce that you will from using some fresh peppers. I dunno, I'm a bit skeptic, I guess I'd like to see the data which they drew the conclusion from.

 

Fawn

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As a former resident of El Paso, I enjoy jalapenos, serranos, cayennes, and other chiles. About the only one I don't eat is a habanero, which is really too hot for me to even taste, although I have used one in a large batch of hot chow-chow, a southern-style relish made with cabbage, green tomatoes, onions, & peppers. I find that processing them tends to tamp down the heat a bit & I can that relish.

 

I am fortunate in that I must have a cast-iron tummy - nothing really upsets it except some ground meats/sausages some of the time. I make fresh salsa & pico de gallo all summer long with produce from my organic garden & freeze a variety of hot peppers for use throughout the winter. Freezing them is easy since all I do is wash, remove seeds & stems, dice, & freeze in a single layer on cookie sheets. Once completely frozen, I place in gallon freezer bags. That way, I have hot peppers year-round & I can use as few or as many at a time as I need. The texture isn't good unless used in a cooked recipe, but fine for that. And, I don't have to worry about what has been done to them or about pesticides.

 

I can't attest to the insulin-requirement lowering properties found in the Australian studies. Neither can I dispute it since I've eaten hot peppers for forty years or so - well before my D diagnosis or before I started using insulin. Who knows what my insulin requirements might have been otherwise?

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My husband and I once long ago dreamed up an ice cream -- Hoppin' Habanero! It was apricot, with a habanero swirl ...

 

I a void them because cutting into them makes me COUGH!

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I like it hot, nose sweating, face flushing hot. I eat a lot of hot sauce and chillies. I also take 3 cayenne pepper caps a day rated at the 80,000 heat units, what ever that means. Its hard to tell whether they help or not, but I think they do. My idea of a bowl of chilli is so hot that it is barely tolerable to eat. If I am not sweating its not hot enough.

 

I have always eaten hot foods, dad used to grill burgers and hot banana peppers at the same time. We would build our own hot burger.

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Another found that regularly eating hot chilies reduces insulin requirements, which may have implications in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

 

This is definitely true for me. Generally, I find rice extremely problematic to bolus for, and small amounts with curry are the best I can deal with. However, I also make a mean khao pad gai which I usually stuff full of a lot of very hot chilis. Oddly enough, I can eat masses of this (like a good 200g worth of rice) and sometimes I don't even need to bolus.

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It might be dependent on the type, if there is indeed an effect. We already know that capsaicin, the element that makes chillis 'hot', has an effect on the autoimmune response towards beta cells and shows some promise as a potential T1 treatment/cure.

 

Whereas the majority of cases of D in Indians globally are T2. It could be that eating chillis could have some benefit for T1s but only on some T2s, as T2 is really a spectrum disorder with varying causes resulting in the same symptoms.

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Oddly enough, I can eat masses of this (like a good 200g worth of rice) and sometimes I don't even need to bolus.

 

WOW!! I should try this as I also like hot foods. :D

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So there are others that can eat more carbs if they are combined with really hot chillies. I have definetly noticed this with myself as well.

 

 

This is definitely true for me. Generally, I find rice extremely problematic to bolus for, and small amounts with curry are the best I can deal with. However, I also make a mean khao pad gai which I usually stuff full of a lot of very hot chilis. Oddly enough, I can eat masses of this (like a good 200g worth of rice) and sometimes I don't even need to bolus.

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