If you have a wife like mine, who sometimes wonders what is it you enjoy when eating spicy food, how you eat it and why you decide to eat it, yes you are welcome…….to my world. I love spicy foods and typically enjoy 1-2 habanero peppers a day. If you like spicy food, there’s good reason to indulge your cravings, as the spicy chemical in peppers – capsaicin – and other compounds in spicy food can improve your health, just like mine.
Chili peppers, one of the main sources of capsaicin, are regarded as a staple in Central America, Asia, and India, but even in the Africa there are many devotees to spicy food whose mantra is “the spicier the better.”
Interestingly, the heat and pain you experience when you eat chili pepper seeds is designed to make you not want to eat them (hence protecting the plants’ ability to spread seeds and survive).
And it’s believed that humans are, in fact, the only animal that chooses to willingly eat them. Perhaps, on some level, our bodies have learned to tolerate and even crave chili peppers’ heat because of their many proven benefits to our health.
I have found at least three of the major benefits of eating spicy foods, this has been proved by scientists but any other advice from me has no basis or reliability than my own meandering experience.
1. Reduce Your Risk of Tumors
Capsaicin has been shown to activate cell receptors in your intestinal lining, creating a reaction that lowers the risk of tumors. Mice genetically prone to develop tumors had reduced tumors and extended lifespans when fed capsaicin, and the researchers believe the compound may turn off an over-reactive receptor that could trigger tumor growth.
Capsaicin has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has even shown some promise for cancer treatment. Research has shown, for instance, that capsaicin suppresses the growth of human prostate cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.
In one study, about 80 percent of the prostate cancer cells in mice were killed by capsaicin, while treated tumors shrank to about one-fifth the size of untreated tumors.
Capsaicin has also been shown to be effective against breast, pancreatic, and bladder cancer cells, although you might need to eat unrealistically large amounts of capsaicin to get such benefits (such as eight habanero peppers a week).
2. Improve Your Sex Life
In this case, it’s not the spice from chili peppers but that from ginseng and saffron that showed benefit. In a review of purported aphrodisiacs, both ginseng and saffron were found to boost sexual performance.
3. Help with Weight Loss
Spicy foods increase satiety, helping you to feel full while eating less, and hot peppers may even help your body to burn more calories. Capsaicin has actually been used to selectively destroy nerve fibers that transmit information from your gut to your brain.
This procedure was said to have a “remarkable” impact on weight, but destroying these nerve fibers could have serious long-term implications on your health. Fortunately, capsaicin may be effective for weight loss when added to your diet, as opposed to via surgery.
For me, “It’s not hot enough unless I’m dripping in sweat as I eat it,” I have always told my wife when I choose to go big on the HOT. She always asks “Do you really taste the food? Does it not burn your tongue?”. Both in awe and disgust, she watches me pour threatening levels of neon orange and green sauces on my food, as I relish the buzzy head rush from the standard medium-level red salsa.
I have learned that spicy food lovers aren’t born with an affinity for hot sauce. Rather, it’s acquired over time, as capsaicin and other spicy food molecules deplete a neurotransmitter called substance P, which is responsible for sending pain signals to the brain…… its sad that I have gotten here. I have no idea what it it you feel when indulging in your hot sauce, lets agree that hot is hot, and we love it when its hot. We care about hot and when it’s not hot we are not happy. We are sad!