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Posted by Elizebath Bijoy Friday, December 16, 2011

Spicy food is one of the good things that India has to offer to the world. You may eat spicy food just for the thrill of it, but research suggests spicy foods may offer health benefits as well.
Exploring the physiological connection between spicy foods and an increase in your body's metabolic rate may make you appreciate the heat of spicy foods a little more than you already do and may tempt you to spice up your meals more frequently, whether you're a spice aficionado or someone looking for a metabolic boost.

The capsaicin heat
When you eat spiced foods, not only does your tongue tingle and burn, but sweat beads on your brow, and you may even feel physically hot and begin to pant for breath and reach for water. This is due to the action, within your body, of a chemical called capsaicin, the source of the spicy heat from hot peppers such as jalapenos, red peppers and chili peppers. Interestingly enough, capsaicin's heat-inducing properties are so pronounced that the chemical is used not only to spice up foods, but also as an active ingredient in topical anti-inflammatory creams for muscle aches and joint pain as well as in self-defense pepper spray, reports the Florida State University.

Effects of capsaicin on metabolism and body temperature
Meals that are spiced with hot peppers have the capability to raise your body's metabolic rate by as much as 20 percent, simply by consuming spicy foods. This effect is temporary and lasts only up to 30 minutes after you consume spicy foods. This affects your body's basal, or resting, metabolic rate. The body's metabolism works as a cycle, converting food energy to energy your body uses to perform many vital functions, including regulating body temperature. Capsaicin can raise your body temperature with its chemical heat, contributing to the temporary increase in your overall basal metabolic cycle.

Spicy food and digestion
Another very important component of metabolism is digestion, and spicy foods affect this aspect as well. Foods with added hot peppers can increase the secretion of saliva from the salivary glands in the mouth, and continue to augment digestion by increasing gastric juices in your stomach, as well as promoting the food-breakdown activity in your small intestine. This unique feature of capsaicin-rich spicy foods not only has the potential to speed up your metabolism through increasing the metabolic process of digestion, but can act as an overall aid for good digestive health.

Precautions you should take
Since spicy foods can raise your metabolism temporarily, you may be tempted to spice up everything you eat. However, use caution with the amount of hot peppers you add to your meals, since too much capsaicin can cause upset stomach and gastrointestinal pain. Talk to your doctor about other ways to speed up your metabolism before dramatically increasing the amount of spicy foods you eat.


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