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ask: Are spicy foods bad for you?

By Kristin Davis
 
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I have a cousin who loves spicy foods so much that she nearly drowns all of her meals in chili paste sauce or peppers -- anything to get her mouth on fire. I'm just wondering if this could be bad at all. Her husband gives her a hard time by telling her that she's going to tear up her throat/esophagus with all of the spicy food. Any truth to that?

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EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Well i eat spicy food all of the time. Like habaneros and others dried hot peppers like those. I am a big fan of spicy and i mean SPICY food and it hasnt caused me any problems so far and ive been eating spicy food like that for 9 plus years. The only thing i wonder is if it will cause me physical problems when im in my old years?? I take acid reflux pills but the acid reflux disease didnt come from the spicy food.

May 16, 2011 - 11:15am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Don't listen to anyone that says spicy food is good for you. i ate spicy food so much at the point where i had more hot sauce on my food then food itself that if screwed up my digestive system. for two months i suffered cause of it. i was shitting blood and at one point tears were coming from my eyes because my ass was on fire and every time i walked, it was like a stab in there. it will screw u up there is nothing good in it except for its taste. i continue to eat a lot of spicy food today not because i want to but i am addicted and my digestive system is getting worse and worse because of it.

February 9, 2011 - 3:23pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Anonymous, are you for real? Honestly, that is the funniest comment I've ever read. Major lolz.

May 18, 2011 - 11:58am
Alison Beaver (reply to Anonymous)

Please know that whenever you read something is "good" for you, it is usually in moderation.

You do not sound like you have consumed spicy foods in moderation, so it does make sense that you would have some side effects from this.

Have you talked with a doctor about blood in your stool, and pain during a bowel movement?

February 10, 2011 - 10:22am
alysiak

My DH is like your cousin, and I tease him that he must have no taste buds! He has a very high metabolism, as well (that's just not fair, lol!).

There are certain spices and "spicy hot" foods, like peppers, ginger, cinnamon, wasabi and curry, that have some health benefits. As others here have already replied, if your cousin is not experiencing any negative effects, she's probably okay. I have a friend who, like your cousin, piles on the heat to my consternation. I couldn't do that, my stomach is far too sensitive.

However, when I lived in North Africa, the further I traveled into the Sahara, the spicier the food. They have a red peppery paste called harissa that is used in a lot of their cooking. This is based on the principle that sweating is your body's natural cooling method. After returning to the States, I found I could no longer tolerate such heat on my food and avoid really spicy foods. Plus, I was hospitalized after a wonderful Indonesian meal because of a negative reaction to the curry. Not fun.

Another consideration about toleration for spicy foods is whether or not your cousin suffers from gastric reflex. Another friend of mine developed nasty ulcers along his esophagus from gastric reflux and has been told to avoid spicy foods because they're among the triggers for him.

Some people simply have a higher tolerance level than others. All the same, I hope your cousin listens to her body and will seek medical attention at the first sign that something's not quite "usual" for her.

February 2, 2009 - 5:28pm
Diane Porter

I would bet that your cousin has actually lost some of her ability to taste how spicy those peppers are, Kristin. We get used to certain levels of "heat" and they fail to give us that spicy sensation, so we increase the dosage, so to speak.

Some folks drown their food in spices and peppers because it helps amp up their metabolism and, they believe, helps them lose weight or keep it off better. Capsaicin, which gives chile peppers their powerful kick, creates the most heat, which helps burn more calories immediately after a meal. Black pepper and ginger have similar effects. Could this be an issue with your cousin?

Here's a healthcare blog that talks about the negative -- if fairly minor -- effects of lots and lots of spicy food:

http://blogs.healthcare.com/healthyseason/2008/11/29/why-you-should-be-c...

Spicy foods can make symptoms of heartburn and ulcers worse. And if your cousin ever has a sore on her tongue that doesn't go away and seems to be sensitive to spicy food, she should see her doctor or dentist and ask about it. Oral cancers can start as a fairly innocuous white spot on the tongue -- something we might just see as an irritation. If it doesn't go away, it's worth some attention.

February 2, 2009 - 9:33am
Alison Beaver

Interesting question!

Fortunately (for those of us who love spicy foods!), adding spices to foods provides many health benefits! Officially, the jury is still out on any negative long-term reactions to spicy foods (which tells me, also a lover of spicy foods, that there may not be any negative consequences, as spicy foods have been used for centuries and in many cultures...it is well researched and many other foods have been found to be culprits to irritation, ulcers and other health problems...but not spicy foods!).

Peppers and other spices (notably: cumin, chili peppers, red pepper flakes and tumeric) have been shown to curb hunger, boost brainpower and improve mood, and add lots of flavor with little/no extra calories. Spices indirectly elevate endorphins in the body, a natural feel good chemical, and have been known to "wake up the senses"! I'm personally not into extreme sports...so maybe this is where I get my kicks..ha ha!

The negatives with eating spicy food are: mouth sores. The spicy foods won't "tear up" the throat (that comment implies a cumulative effect), but if a person, WHILE EATING THE SPICY FOOD, has any discomfort, then a mouth/canker sore could be a result of the food being too spicy. Mouth sores can also occur from drinking/eating an item that is too hot (temperature), contains caffeine, or from acidic foods and drinks (citrus).

Some people experience stomach burning or irritation when eating spicy foods, but people are sensitive to different types of foods...it may just be a personal thing that if your cousin does not have any adverse reactions to spicy foods...then she is tolerating them well. People's definitions of "spicy" are varied, just as are their tastes and preferences for certain foods.

Please note: from your post, I assume we're talking about mild to moderate hot peppers...as there are some extremely and truly hot peppers that can cause blistering of the lips and palate. Other hot peppers can cause skin irritation, so when cutting peppers, be sure to keep fingers out of eyes and wash your hands thoroughly.

The New York Times ran an article about spicy foods:
"...according to Dr. Arnold Levy, a gastroenterologist in Washington and vice president for education of the American Digestive Disease Society, ''Precious little data are available anywhere in any language on the effects of hot, spicy foods on the digestive tract.''

Dr. Levy said: ''Caffeine and alcohol are gastric irritants; citrus fruits are acidic and can irritate the lower esophagus and add to stomach acid; chocolate, mint, nicotine, alcohol and fatty foods can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, and cause heartburn, but there just aren't any data on hot, spicy foods.''

Hope this information helps!

February 1, 2009 - 2:58pm
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