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8 Hidden Health Benefits Of Spicy Food Supported By Science

8 Hidden Health Benefits Of Spicy Food Supported By Science

Ever go to a restaurant that offers particularly spicy food? Sure you have. And when you go, do you always see a guy sitting in the corner, sweat dripping down his face as he tries to recover from a chicken wing drenched in a scorching-hot ghost chili pepper sauce?

You might ask yourself, “why does he do it?,” or, “what’s the point of putting yourself through that kind of torture?” Lovers of spicy food will tell you that they’re addicted to the flavor and sensation, but I suspect that there’s something else drawing them to it: the fact that it’s incredibly healthy for you.

Indeed, that old saying “no pain, no gain” has never seemed more appropriate. Hold on tight and I’ll tell you all about the good things that fiery foods can do for you!

1. It helps you burn calories.

Turns out that all of that sweating you do while eating spicy foods serves a real purpose. According to a study in the New York Times, consuming a spicy plate of food increases the rate by which your body burns calories by up to 8%. Or in other words, dealing with all of that heat makes your metabolism work faster.

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Other studies have found that folks who eat spicy appetizers consume fewer calories when their main course arrives. So, if you’re looking to shed a few pounds, you might want to consider adding spicy foods to your diet!

2. It protects your heart.

Numerous studies have shown that people in countries with spicier diets tend to have far fewer heart attacks than those in areas with a more mild selection of foods.

The reason? Consuming chili peppers seems to negate the effects of bad cholesterol (also known as LDL). Additionally, capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the burning effect that spicy foods create in your mouth, helps to fight inflammation (which is one of the things that can lead to a heart attack).

3. It can relieve your pain.

This one gets a bit complicated in terms of the scientific explanation, but to put it simply, capsaicin is able to inhibit certain signals sent from your nerve cells to your brain, deadening any sensation of pain you might be feeling.

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This is why capsaicin is often used as an ingredient in pain-relief creams and patches – the burning sensation works to eliminate pain at its source.

4. It will keep you alive longer.

An immense study in China (involving nearly 500,000 people) found that those who eat spicy foods nearly every day may lower their likelihood of death by 14%.

The folks who ran the study say it’s too early to directly link spicy foods to an increased lifespan, but the results do look encouraging. Given all of the health benefits spicy foods have, it really doesn’t surprise me that consuming them frequently might add a year or two to your life.

5. It is chock full of nutrients.

Consuming chilies on a daily basis will make it far easier for you to meet your daily recommended intake of a number of nutrients. These include several vitamins, like A and C, as well as a handful of vital minerals.

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6. It can make you happier.

Eating spicy foods causes your brain to produce ‘happy’ hormones, like serotonin, which makes you better equipped to deal with depression, anxiety, anger, and stress.

This might explain why folks eating super spicy foods always look so happy, even when they’re sweating buckets and crying from the pain!

7. It might stave off cancer.

According to some medical professionals, and the latest research, capsaicin has the same effect on certain cancer cells as powerful cancer-fighting drugs do. Apparently, the chemical is so powerful that it can potentially kill off leukemic cells and slow the growth of deadly tumors.

With that in mind, I say we all buy a bottle of the spiciest hot sauce we can find and use it on everything we eat!

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8. It might make your stomachache feel better.

What!? Spicy foods can settle your stomach? That’s right. New research suggests that consuming spicy foods can lower the amount of gastric acid you produce, reduce any stomach bleeding you might have, and cut your risk of acquiring a peptic ulcer by 53%.

That’s not a bad deal for eating a few chili peppers!

Has this article changed your stance on spicy foods? Has it convinced you to power through the sweat and tears? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to share any spicy food recipes while you’re at it!

Featured photo credit: 重庆辣子鸡 Chongqing Spicy Chicken/Alpha via flic.kr

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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