You know the drill: runny nose, burning mouth, sweating. Whether you’re eating homemade chili, habanero fajitas, or chicken vindaloo, nothing lights up your taste buds like spicy food. But besides clearing out your sinuses and watering your eyes, what else do these types of foods do? As you can see, what happens to your body when you eat spicy food is pretty wild.
Chili has numerous health benefits. Research shows that capsaicin, a chemical compound found in chili peppers, is a natural pain reliever. Not only that, but a 2015 study found that enduring the heat can actually extend your life. Those who ate spicy foods six or seven days a week had a 14 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to those who ate spicy foods less than once a week. All that said, spicy food can cause gastrointestinal distress and other unpleasant consequences for some people.
There’s nothing wrong with a fiery kick, but if you’re the type to throw Sriracha on just about anything, there are a few things to know about what happens when you go heavy on the heat. And if you’re looking for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 7 foods to eat right now.
While the capsaicin found in hot peppers is often thought to cause ulcers, Dr. Lynn Poston, a licensed physician and contributor to Invigor Medical, says the exact opposite is true.
“Capsaicin inhibits acid production, increases blood flow to the stomach, and increases mucus production,” he says. “All of these factors reduce the risk of ulcers.”
There are many studies that support this. According to Dr. Poston, one of the most common culprits of ulcers is the frequent use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen.
Don’t forget to read about the dangers of eating spicy food according to scientific research.