Some of people can handle spicy and some people cry even at the sight of a chili. Maybe sometimes you just need a little bit of challenge, you feel a bit adventurous and you think – hey, I’m gonna make my food spicy! You know it burns, but somehow you love it – mouth on fire, eyes almost popping out and tears start rolling down your cheeks.
While travelling around Asia, Ive got used to the sensation and have even started craving it, making almost all my meals quite spicy. A few weeks later however, I started noticing some amazing changes and experiencing health benefits I did not expect…
The Effect of Spicy Foods
Cooling Down – the first thing I noticed after finishing a hot curry on a hot summer day was just wonderful – I was not that hot anymore! While it might seem unthinkable to eat spicy food when it’s really hot outside, the truth is that it will actually cool you down. Yes, you might really sweat your face out while you eat, but according to studies, that’s the trick in it. The sweat coming out of your face (which is very common in people eating spicy foods), is a sign of an increased body temperature, which actually cools you down and has a long lasting affect. While a cold drink or food may cool you down for 15-20 minutes, a spicy meal could have this effect for hours! This also explains why people living in very hot countries (India, Thailand, Mexico, Nigeria, etc.) eat very spicy food, but on the other hand, they might just like it.
More Energy – Wanna go hiking on a hot summer day? Sure, just let me finish my spicy meal and I’ll be right there with you! It could be because my stomach is on fire, but after having a spicy meal I feel a lot more energized and ready for new adventures. The explanation behind it is the source from which hot peppers get their heat – capsaicin. There are some studies showing that after consuming foods rich in capsaicin, metabolism temporary increases by 8% compared to its normal rate. This in turn burns more calories and gives you more energy – awesome!
Sated For Longer – as a person with pretty healthy appetite, I was surprised to notice that I am sated for much longer after I’ve had some spicy food. Especially my craving for unhealthy foods (chips, cookies, snacks, etc.), is drastically reduced and I can easily wait until the next main meal. It turns out that it is again capsaicin that does the trick, as it’s known to reduce appetite, helps you feel full and reduces the craving for fatty, sweet and salty foods. Had I known this before, I would have started eating spicy food earlier, as it eventually leads to…
Weight Loss – I would never have thought that I could possibly lose weight with the amounts of delicious Asian food I am consuming every day, so it came as quite a surprise when my friend told me I’ve visibly slimmed down. I don’t have a scale to confirm it, so I’ll just take his word for granted and be happy with it. It is a fact however, that hot chillies and cayenne pepper are being used in many detox and weight loss programs due to the health benefits mentioned above and because capsaicin also aids in trimming down belly fat. Yum!
Other Health Benefits and Dangers – while researching different sources in the web, trying to explain the sensations in my own body, I found out that there are numerous health benefits in consuming spicy food. There are studies suggesting that capsaicin can kill lung and pancreatic cancer cells, help prevent buildup of cholesterol in the blood, can relieve pain in arthritis, and has an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effect.
When it comes to the question whether there is any danger in eating spicy food, the answer can be yes and no. For healthy people there is no proof that spicy food can cause any damage to the stomach, but the same doesn’t apply for people who already have some sort of a condition. Spicy food should generally be avoided by people suffering from heartburn, various gastrointestinal diseases, bowel disorders, ulcers or hemorrhoids (Ouch!).
An undisputed fact however is that each person has a different ability to handle spicy food, so the most important thing when spicing up your meal is to listen to your body and enjoy every bite.
Spice me up, please!