Is spicy food good for you?

The various types of chillies.

The current ‘spicy food craze’, especially among instant food, is said to be a common thing as it is believed to be able to increase one’s appetite.

However, does eating spicy food have a good or bad effect — both long- and short-term — on one’s health?

Capsaicin, found in chilli, can help reduce nerve pain such as joint pain (arthritis), psoriasis and diabetic neuropathy.

In addition, it also helps the blood circulatory system by opening the blood vessels to promote increased blood flow, and prevents heart disease by reducing cholesterol levels in the blood and lipid deposits.

“Chilli increases metabolism rates and formation of heat (thermogenesis) which consumes energy and burns calories. It helps us to controls appetite, allowing us to control or decrease our body weight.

The craze on spicy food has even led to the creation of carbonated drinks flavoured with ghost pepper — one of the world’s hottest chilli peppers.

“Chilli also contains beta carotene and anti-oxidants which strengthen the immune system against viruses that cause colds and fevers, and anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent and reduce the risk of allergies.

“Apart from that, laboratory studies show that capsaicin in chilli can activate the lining in the intestine, reducing the risk of colon cancer.

“Capsaicin also helps kill prostate cancer cells and reduces tumours. However, there is not much research to prove this theory,” said Sunway Medical Centre gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Zaharuddin Rahmat.

Meanwhile, according to a survey conducted by Public Health Malaysia, 79 percent of respondents are of the view that spicy food can be harmful to their health.

In addition to that, studies from the University of Qatar and the University of South Australia stated that individuals who eat spicy food every day are at risk of suffering from dementia.

In addition, the study also stated that consuming too much spicy food can increase body temperature, causing a person to sweat quickly.

Undoubtedly, eating spicy food can help increase one’s energy, but if taken at night, it can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Consuming food that is too spicy can also cause heartburn, seizures and stomach aches as the intestinal system tries to move the food to the colon as quickly as possible.

At the same time, the intestine reacts by absorbing too much fluid which can cause diarrhoea.

For those who suffer from frequent bouts of gastric or stomach ulcers, you are not encouraged to eat too much spicy food because it can be harmful to these existing conditions.