Eat Chilies, Live Longer!
Whoo Hoo! I get to eat chilies and hot sauce and live longer to boot. Isn’t that a bit of fun to cheer up your gloomy January morning? Show me the proof.
That’s what this study reveals, released just this week in the on line journal PLOS 1. The authors from the University of Vermont took a sample of elder Americans over age 18 from our national nutrition survey called, NHANES, and followed them for 18 years. 16,179 carefully randomized Americans, followed for 18 plus years end up being 273,877 human years of follow-up with 4,946 deaths. You are getting to large enough numbers for the ability of statistical analysis to be meaningful and true. The risk reduction of death was from 33.6 percent for “non-consumers” to 21.6% for chili-eaters. That’s an absolute risk reduction of 12% or a relative risk reduction of 36% stated as an RR of .64. That’s a lot.
Pretty good? Huh! So, how? A prior study in the British Medical Journal, found the same thing. It was much, much bigger, but in China, not America. The Chinese eat some seriously spicy food. In that study, 199,293 men and 288,082 women were followed for a total of 3,500,004 years. They asked how many days a week spicy food was eaten, and found that adding a day added an increment of reduction, for a relative risk reduction of 14%. Their findings were also statistically significant. Again, they noticed a reduction on cardiovascular mortality.
Again, how? There may be many mechanisms. We know that populations who eat more chilies have less cancer. Capsaicin is known to disrupt the cell cycle and has been advocated as an anti-cancer drug in the form of a product called Capsol T. The ability of capsaicin to reduce lipids has also been documented. The antioxidant effect of capsaicin is well known. It has been found to alter the biome in the gut.
Goodness, gracious. Chilies are good for you. One day a week is good, two is better, seven is best. One of the articles suggested that part of why chilies may be good for you is that you eat less, you are satisfied faster. Hmmm. Perhaps because you are frantically fanning your mouth and pushing your plate away. What ever works!
WWW. What will work for me. I have used Capsol T in my practice. It is a combination of green tea and chilies, and when used every 4 hours arrests the cell cycle in cancer. But I also have chili sauce on my dining room table. For Christmas I was given Ghost Chilies as a condiment and I have been putting one flake on my eggs in the morning. Now, after 4 weeks, I’m up to 4-5 flakes. And I must admit, I love it. It’s a new flavor that is tasty and delightful. It makes my three egg breakfast something I look forward too. Building up slowly might be the way to go.
1. Eating chilies daily will lengthen my life. T of F
Possibly. Population studies aren’t quite generalizable, because you may not be one of the ones who benefits, but the population you are in will. 13% less mortality.
2. The benefits of eating chilies come from cardiovascular risk reduction. T or F
Partially true again. We aren’t sure of exactly what the mechanism is. It appears to be multifactorial, meaning we still can’t put a finger on it.
3. The hottest chili in the world is the Ghost Chili? T or F
Well, actually false. The Hottest Chili is now the Carolina Reaper, a hybrid of the Ghost Chili from Assam, India and a Habanero bred at the Puckerbutt Pepper Company.
4. You should start eating chilies today. T or F
Well, true on general principles but it’s pretty clear it takes a while to get your body used to it. Starting low and going slow is likely the way to go.
5. Chilies came to us from the New World in Ecuador, and spread all around the world. T or F
False. Mexico, but close enough. Now, the most chilies in the world are grown in India,