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Healthy Lifestyle: Pros and Cons of Spicy Foods

In everyone's life, there are situations where you will encounter one or two illnesses for a particular period. Sometimes we only experience the signs and symptoms of a particular disease, then it disappears again after some time even without medication. 

There are also some illnesses or health complications that seem normal to prevail as we grow older e.g cataracts and joint pain. This is so because the immune system becomes weak as we age and hence the body's ability to defend diseases is reduced. 

Not just ageing, the lifestyle you live will determine:

  • Whether you will contact a disease
  • How often you get sick
  • Your immune system's role in fighting the disease 
  • To what extent will the illness affect you 
  • Whether you will overcome it

Maintenance of a healthy lifestyle occurs in two broad categories: what you should do, and what you should avoid. The things you need to do to stay healthy include moderate exercises, eating a balanced diet, rest and sleep, medical check ups e.t.c.

Today we want to throw more light on the benefits and dangers of spicy foods consumption. 

Spices are local or industrially extracted food products from plant parts such as roots,fruits, flowers, seeds, leaves, etc. Used for seasoning or adding flavour to food. 

Spices are extracted in different forms. Whether it's in powder form, dried, leafy, fresh or partly cooked. Each species has its own health benefits. 

Spices are found all over the world in local markets and packaged forms. There are hundreds of spices available for cooking and preservation.  Each species has a unique property and the absence of such spices in our foods is felt by loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and other effects.

Read Also: Here's What Happens to Our Body When We Starve

A good number of spices can be classified as food or food products that regulate and protect our body system. The Benefits of spices Include:

Enhancement of our immune system functions 

Turmeric, commonly used in Indian and Nigeria, poses some anti-inflammatory properties that prevent diseases like Alzheimer's disease and depression. 

Regulation of our body metabolic processes 

Spices like cinnamon can be used to lower one's blood sugar levels. it's safe to say certain spices are good for diabetic patients. 

Antimicrobial effect

Some spices like ginger and garlic are natural sources of medicine, there are several studies proving the effect of such spices on diseases.e.g, the use of garlic in treatment of high blood pressure or hypertension, and stroke. 

Curcumin found in turmeric is also used in treatment of swelling in people suffering from arthritis. 

Ginger is also used as a supplement in treatment of nausea caused by pregnancy. All these benefits from spices are the reasons why your doctor will always recommend fruits and vegetables for you. Daily consumption of garlic is beneficial in prevention of heart attack.

Appetisers 

Our brain contains appetite centres that are linked to our sense organs such as the eyes and tongue. This makes us attracted to foods garnished with colourful spices or those with a nice flavour. The visual or olfactory pathways leading to the brain which are stimulated now encourage us to eat.

Spicy foods increase salivation, this can easily be experienced by increased salivary secretion when we see such foods. 

Enhancement of a proper digestion

Prevention of cold and influenza. E.g when you eat food prepared with a moderate quantity of pepper, cases of nausea or vomiting are hardly experienced. 

As preservatives 

Some spices are used to prevent food spoilage hence they possess antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. Industrial chemicals used for preservation may be harmful to our health or most likely, affect the natural properties of food. Spices provided from natural herbs or vegetables are marked safe for preservation according to food and drug administration (FDA).

Are spicy foods harmful?

As much as there are numerous benefits of spicy foods consumption, we should be mindful of the quantities at which we consume these spices in food, and how often we consume them. It is also recommended to know which spice you are allergic to and avoid them. Sometimes our body reacts to these spices and harms itself in the process.

Apart from cases of allergy, spicy foods are not harmful provided they are eaten in the recommended proportion and frequency of consumption. 

For instance, putting a moderate quantity of pepper, for instance, in food gives the recommended taste, and reduces the urge to vomit after meals. But large quantities of pepper in food may result in loss of taste of the food,  uncontrolled runny nose, watery eyes, and a burning sensation on the tongue.

Some spices contain substances we don't know about, these substances are mostly beneficial to our health but also harmful judging from another perspective. The phytonutrients in a spice may give you your desired flavour but still add to some risk factors. For example, some Maggi cubes sold in Nigeria contain a substance called monosodium glutamate which enhances taste and flavour of meals.

Read Also: Obesity: Concepts, Risk Factors, and It's Management

It's quite pleasant that monosodium glutamate may give us the taste we hunger for. The scientifically proven fact remains that monosodium glutamate causes obesity and other metabolic problems. Not forgetting the complications of obesity we discussed last week. Consumption of such spices can even result in cancer, diabetes mellitus,  and quick ejaculation. 

Monosodium glutamate causes the blockage of the hypothalamus responsible for food satiety.  This can make you eat more often without being satisfied, resulting in abnormal  accumulation of nutrients in the blood.

People suffering from conditions like ulcer may find it uncomfortable to eat hot chilli in food. Certain diseases do not cooperate with some spices. You can know this by the way your body reacts to such spicy foods when you eat them.

People who are already underweight should minimize their rate of consumption of spices which reduces body weight. 

In summary, spicy foods consumption are associated with the following complications:

  • Heart burns
  • Harm to already existing illnesses 
  • Loss of taste
  • Eye or ear problems 
  • Skin irritation 
  • Restlessness 
  • Acute or mild Gastritis 
  • Respiratory difficulties 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 

Conclusion: Consumption of spices in food is healthwise, but we should be mindful of the quantity and frequency of their consumption. We recommend you make out time to discuss with a food nutritionist for more health tips.


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