What do spicy foods have to do with longevity?

This may be hot news for those of us who want to lead longer lives. It turns out that the components in spicy food can extend your life span. In a new study conducted at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, it has been found that people who ate spicy food regularly showed a lower risk of falling victim to diseases like cancer, ischemic heart diseases and respiratory system diseases.

Researchers from the academy gathered data collected between 2004 and 2008 from the China Kadoorie Biobank. They analysed food consumption of half a million respondents between the ages of 30 and 70 across regions in China, excluding those with serious medical conditions like cancer and heart disease.

What’s the logic?

What is it in spicy foods that acts as a catalyst to a longer life though? Scientists say it is capsaicin, a bioactive ingredient that stimulates the kidneys, heart and lungs, and can help keep infections at bay. There’s also a legend that suggests that spicy foods can induce labour, but there are no hard facts to support this. There is a theory that proposes that spicy foods trigger thermogenesis, improving the metabolic rate. It also means a lower intake, indicating that fewer calories are consumed. This essentially means a more balanced, healthy diet.

Should we change our lifestyle?

However, there are several demerits of spicy foods. It has been found that spicy foods can lead to incontinence, especially in women. They also contribute to runny noses, sinus infections and colds. Scientists are quick to point out that this finding doesn’t mean that we dedicate half our next shopping trip to the supermarket to the spices section. Individual components of spicy foods can make a big difference, and it’s important that the food being consumed be surveyed in its entirety. They are firm that further research needs to be done to determine conclusive evidence.

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