Elefteria Mantzorou - massage therapy and phytotherapy instructor
While some believe that chili intake can lead to weight loss, others believe that this is a myth. So what is truth and what myth? Learn about the most recent scientific discoveries.
More or less, we all have tasted a spicy dish. Others love it, others are afraid of it, others are addicted to the spicy flavor. The "fire" comes from the substance capsaicin, which is the active ingredient of peppers.
Not all peppers have the same content of capsaicin. The most hot, of course, contain the substance at a higher concentration, while the milder (eg the bell pepper) not at all. The substance is located in various parts of the chilli fruit, in varying proportions. Capsaicin was isolated in crystalline form for the first time in 1846 by LT Tresh, and was first synthesized in 1930 by E. Spath and FS Darling.
Recently, certain food supplements containing capsaicin have become quite popular , while within the circles of alternative therapies the chilli oil, obtained by cold extraction, is very widespread.
It has been shown that capsaicin intake is associated with weight loss. It appears that it reduces appetite - moreover, it reduces the hormone ghrelin, which, when secreted, increases the appetite. In this manner, it contributes to the feeling of satiety. It is well documented that capsaicin prevents recovery of excess weight.
Capsaicin also increases thermogenesis - that stimulates metabolism. Anyway, it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system.
In one study it was found that capsaicin activates brown adipose tissue in humans, while in another (published in 2009 in the journal Clinical Nutrition) that capsaicin, combined with green tea, suppresses the appetite and favors low calorie intake.
What about the chili oil?
Capsaicin is a lipophilic substance (that we have experienced very well, when we tried unsuccessfully to rinse the mouth with water after a good intake of chilli!) And therefore can be extracted in fat. Of course, the effect of chilli in body weight is observed with oral intake. Therefore, this preparation (extraction of chilli in oil) cannot have an impact in the fight against obesity. However, it may display a mild analgesic and heating effect, and that would make it an interesting massage product. The action will be mild, because in general, these natural formulations do not contain a sufficient concentration of capsaicin.
• The chili can cause microhemorrhages (similar to aspirin), and should not be taken in combination with anticoagulants.
• Other studies show that chili intake is associated with gastric ulcer, other that it prevents it, or even that it helps to its treatment. There is no consensus on this issue.
• Good to avoided by people with GERD.
If you like spicy food, you have to integrate chilli in your diet! The chili has many other health benefits, beyond the slimming effect. After all, a healthy body weight is often a sign of good health.
• Diepvens, K., K. R. Westerterp, and M. S. Westerterp-Plantenga. "Obesity and Thermogenesis Related to the Consumption of Caffeine, Ephedrine, Capsaicin, and Green Tea." AJP: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 292.1 (2006): R77-85.
• Yoneshiro, Takeshi, Sayuri Aita, Yuko Kawai, Toshihiko Iwanaga, and Mayayuki Saito. "Nonpungent Capsaicin Analogs (capsinoids) Increase Energy Expenditure through the Activation of Brown Adipose Tissue in Humans." American Society for Nutrition (2012).