Wellness Culture

WWB WATCH: Consumption of Spicy Foods May Increase Your Longevity According to Chinese Study


This was the ‘hot’ news last week, no pun intended! Anytime a new study is released to the media, I always wait to let the media ‘star dust’ settle. At ‘The Watch’ I often talk about the dangers of sharing research and turning the results into ‘sound bites’. It’s as simple as this–notice the word ‘may’ in my post title. Well, that word pretty much gets ignored and overlooked when it travels the media highway as a ‘soundbite’. There has been all kinds of articles about this study, and at World Wise Beauty I try to find the most trusted sources and distill what matters in wellness culture.

What matters ultimately, is you get all the facts and you do your best to consider your own bio-individuality before embracing any one diet or one food. Never trust a sound-bite and as a rule of thumb, when I see everyone jump on a bandwagon, I usually stop, observe, collect more information and review. Be wise, be savvy and be discerning when consuming any media!

Below my overview are 5 key things to consider before you increase your spice intake.  It’s your cheat sheet excerpted from Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Vital Signs page at CNN. I found this particular article to be the most comprehensive and responsible story about this study. The article highlights both the pros and cons of eating spicy foods, and also emphasizes that more research needs to be done for it to be conclusive. The study is a very large and controlled study, yet there are so many ‘variables’ that need to be considered. This CNN article by Lisa Lucas lays it all out for you.

I think the important question is whether the protective effect associated with spicy foods translates across cultures. The author of the study believes it does, and other researchers believe it needs more context. Just a little tip when reading any media and especially on the internet–always consider the source and the ‘context’. Excerpted from the very CNN article I am sharing with you, below are the closing remarks from John E. Hayes, an associate professor of food science and director of Sensory Evaluation Center at Penn State University. He drives home the importance of context when reviewing research studies…

So before you make a run for the hot sauce, more research is needed to qualify what spicy entails and the various ingredients, which the current study does not break down. “This isn’t an excuse to go out and eat 24 wings and then rationalize it by claiming they are going to make you live longer,” Hayes said. “When you’re looking at a whole food versus the individual component, we have to be very cautious.” This is the big caveat. “In science, we try to break things down into the simplest parts while still considering the context,”

My own simple non-scientific conclusion is right in line with my ‘Healthy Epicurean’ philosophy. If you like spicy, enjoy in moderation. More importantly, if you are eating healthy, exercising your body, managing your stress and feeding your soul with love, connection and purpose, you are at the very least going to be happy. Did you ever notice that centenarians ( living to 100) seem to be happy spirits? I’m happy to make this key observation for you! 😉







(Notes from CNN Vital Signs)

  1. The study itself cites limitations including the lack of information about other dietary and lifestyle habits or how spicy food was cooked or prepared.
  2. It’s an observational study within a single culture.
  3. There are also a few risks associated with eating spicy foods. “There are certain foods that are triggers for people with incontinence or overactive bladders, including spicy foods, which doctors have identified as common irritants for women,” said Kristen Burns, an adult urology nurse practitioner at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
  4. Spicy foods can also aggravate colds or sinus infections, increasing your runny nose.
  5. The new research found an “association” between death and spicy food consumption, but an editorial published with the study cautions that this is not definitive.

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