Spicy Food Puts Spice Into Your Life

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Chinese have been eating spicy food for ages. Westerners would sprinkle some Sriracha sauce or Tabasco and call it spicy. Yes, Sriracha sauce contains chilli sauce made from the paste of chilli peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt, and could be very spicy if much is added into your meal. On the other hand Asians and Chinese do incorporate such ingredients in the cooking process as flavourings.

In Thailand, Sriracha is used as a dripping sauce. Particularly for seafood, In Vietnamese cuisine this sauce is added as a condiment for pho, fried Huy Fong Foods. Asians believe in addition to create a biting pungency spicy taste, adds cut or whole chillies, and chilli powder directly during the cooking process.

The beneficial effects of capsaicin in red peppers have been documented in experimental studies. Such studies include relief from cancer, peptic ulcer, menopausal problems, low risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These peppers have anti-inflammatory analgesic properties and are incorporated in sprays, ointments for the relief of fibromyalgia.

In a study of half a million people in China eating spicy food the researchers found that their risk of death is reduced by 10 percent. There are other studies done in India and China when eating spicy food regularly shows that your risk of death from heart diseases, cancer and diabetes, are much reduced by as much as 14%

Spices in Indian food have major role to play. India grows over 50 different varieties of spices. There is a huge demand for Indian spices in the world market as most people of all nationalities are beginning to acquire the taste for spicy foods and their known health benefits. Spices are good not only for taste buds, but have antioxidants and potent inhibitor of tissue damage and their anti-inflammatory effects on chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Most spices have phenolic  compounds which can block the formation of compounds that contribute to damage of tissues caused by metabolic disorders.

Chillies make you slim
It is a known fact that people eating spicy food, including chillies help you to lose weight. This could be one of the reasons why Indians including people from Kerala tend to be slimmer compared to Asians and Caucasians who don’t indulge in spicy hot foods. These foods increases your metabolism, makes you feel hot and can even make you sweat and go red in your face. Capsaicin a chemical found in chillies and chillies-based spices such as cayenne andpaprika stimulates your metabolism and accelerates your internal machinery like using high octane gasoline in your motor vehicle.

This is referred to as diet-induced thermogenesis. Added spices and chillies into curries when eaten with a carbohydrate diet like rice or pasta seem to further accelerate this process. This process of thermogenesis seems to lessen with fatty foods.

It is also a known fact that spicing up fatty meals with chillie powder significantly increased the levels of diet induced thermogenesis. Keep a bottle of chillie powder shaker instead of the traditional salt shaker on your dining table.

Reduce weight
Eating hot spicy food with chillie added reduces your appetite and you eat less. These studies have been reported in the British Journal of Nutrition. Researchers also found that adding chillie powder into your food tricks people into thinking that the meal contains more fat than it actually does.

Live longer
Studies have found that eating spicy food could help you to live longer. Dr Chattoo says spicy food can slow down the aging process by increasing blood flow to the face, body including brain. You do have a better appearance when you eat spicy foods with added chillies. You too become more active and burn more calories. You tend to exercise more when you eat spicy food.

Blood thinner
Those who are on blood thinners need to be careful in eating excessive amounts of spicy food with chillies. Chillies tend to thin the blood and would clean the coronary arteries. Capsaicin, as mentioned earlier in chilli peppers like cayennes, jalapenos and habaneros could help protect you from heart disease.

This was revealed in a report shared at the 243rd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society held in San Diego.
The heat in chillie peppers is caused by a family of substances termed “capsaicinoids” found in capsaicin.

Chillies being hot can cause dilatation of peripheral arteries and lower your blood pressure. It can reduce your blood cholesterol minimally. According to Dr Yu Chen, who presented a study pointed out genes and other mechanisms may influence cholesterol and the health of blood vessels.

The heart health function is boosted by lowering the cholesterol levels by reducing accumulated cholesterol in the body and increasing its breakdown, excretion in the faeces and blocking the action of gene which makes arteries contract restricting the flow of blood to the heart and organs, according to Dr Chen’s team.

Some have weak gut lining
A small percentage of people cannot eat spicy food including chillies due to sensitive inner layer of the stomach, small and large guts. Some chillies like cherry peppers are mild and are good for pickling, and enjoyed as a “rice puller”. Most people having a sensitive gut lining can tolerate such pickles that feed the good bugs (microbiota) boosting your immune system and other beneficial functions.

Those who suffer from heartburn may not be able to tolerate spicy foods. These foods can cause a bit of inflammation of the large bowel (colitis and proctitis) and cause an uncomfortable smarty itchy sensation in the anal region the following morning, which subsides spontaneously.

Good for arthritis
Spicy food has anti-inflammatory properties, and some physicians recommend for arthritic patients. These foods can also relieve pain and cause healing by increasing blood flow to affected joints.

Kills bacteria
Spicy food can kill stomach bacteria. This is a new finding.

Winter months
Spicy foods are strongly recommended to eat during winter months. The heat that they generate can regulate the body temperature. So now, get some good Indian recipes with chillies, cardamoms, peppers, mustard seeds added, and enjoy your next meal. If you feel burning in the stomach on your first attempt, keep some sliced cooled cucumber and or a cool glass of milk, in case there is fire in your stomach to extinguish.

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