If you love spicy food, you’re in luck – it seems that spice may be the secret to extending your lifespan! Researchers at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont recently found that individuals who eat chili peppers live longer.
Can Chili Peppers Extend Your Lifespan?
The use of chili peppers to treat disease goes back at least 6,000 years. Their capacity prevent and treat pain, for instance, has been appreciated by cultures around the world. Modern medicine has eagerly studied the benefits of chili peppers, and thorough testing has confirmed a long list of treatment uses. Not until 2015, however, did anyone investigate whether chili peppers can extend your lifespan.
Prior to the Larner College study, researcher in China identified a connection between chili pepper consumption and a longer life. The Larner College study has now corroborated those results. Medical student Mustafa Chopan ’17 and Professor of Medicine Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., found that eating chili peppers can lead to a 13% reduction in total mortality.
Chopan and Littenberg came to this conclusion after analyzing data from more than 16,000 Americans who were followed for up to 23 years as part of the National Health and Nutritional Science Examination Survey (NHANES) III. Although the mechanism responsible for this increase in longevity has yet to be definitively identified, the researchers believe that it could be due to Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels.
TRP channels, which are known to play a role in the development of neurodegenerative disorders, kidney disorders, and cancer, react to a compound found in chili peppers called capsaicin.
Capsaicin: A Hot Topic Among Scientists
Capsaicin imbues chili peppers with heat that some of us seek out and others avoid at all costs. It also imbues them with their health benefits! Much of the research done on chili peppers has centered on capsaicin. Between 1991 and 1999 alone, capsaicin was mentioned nearly 2,9000 times in scientific studies!
Capsaicin can be used to treat a remarkable range of conditions, and appears to be equally effective when used internally and externally. Here are some of the most impressive results of the research on capsaicin to date:
- Applying capsaicin topically can be a remarkably effective treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis. One study found that it substantially reduced burning … stinging … itching … and redness in just 6 weeks.
- Topical capsaicin can also treat arthritis. A study done with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis patients found that capsaicin cream reduced pain by as much as 57%!
- Capsaicin can lead to healthy weight loss by increasing feelings of fullness
- Capsaicin can halt the growth of cancerous cells
Chopan and Littenberg state that when taken internally, capsaicin influences the cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity and regulate blood flow to the heart. It also posseses antimicrobial properties that may benefit your gut microbiota. They hope their research could lead to dietary recommendations supporting the consumption of chili peppers, and possibly to clinical trials that will further explore the benefits of chili peppers.
How Reap the Benefits of Chili Peppers Without the Spice
As the list of ways that chili peppers can benefit human health continues to grow, those who dislike spicy foods may be feeling left out, but there’s no need! There are a number of good quality supplements available that can provide all the health and longevity benefits of chili peppers with none of the spice.