Spicy food, depending on your tolerance, may be something you gravitate towards or avoid completely.
There may be certain health risks from eating spicy food that give reason to take caution.
When it comes to dietary advice on how to approach spicy food, each person is different and your individual needs may vary.
However, there are some common effects and repercussions of eating spicy foods that are fairly well documented.
Keep reading to find out more.
Common Effects Of Eating Spicy Food
Eating spicy food generally involves your mouth and tongue feeling like there is a physical fire on them.
The reason for this is a compound called capsaicin present in spicy food that triggers the same receptors on your taste buds that literal heat does, tricking your brain to thinking that there is something physically hot in your mouth.
This can cause a variety of symptoms you may be familiar with, depending on the strength of the spicy food consumed, such as:
– Burning sensation on the tongue and mouth
– Stomach discomfort
However, you’ll be glad to know that the spicy food does not actually cause physical damage to your tongue or esophagus upon consumption.
That being said, spicy food still comes with an assortment of other health risks you may not be aware of.
Health Risks Of Eating Spicy Food
Capsaicin can actually be fatal when consumed in large enough quantities because your body views it as a neurotoxin.
However, the odds of this happening are pretty low because your body has mechanisms in place to prevent you from eating enough to cause a fatal reaction.
In fact, the symptoms from eating spicy food are linked with these very mechanisms that stop a fatal dose from being ingested, as well as a few other health risks from the aftermath of eating spicy food.
Vomiting is one of the body’s responses when something ends up in your stomach that shouldn’t be there, whether that’s too much spicy food, too much alcohol, or a poisonous substance.
Unfortunately, while vomiting clears the stomach of the capsaicin, the acid from the stomach can cause irritation and damage to the esophagus on the way up.
The damage can be exacerbated depending on the level of capsaicin in the food ingested as well.
Capsaicin also causes inflammation of tissue, which can lead to damage in the stomach or intestinal lining in larger doses.
At this point you may be wondering if regular amounts of spicy food also have any health risks; the following outlines just that.
1. It Can Trigger IBS Symptoms
One study exploring the link between spicy food and irritable bowel syndrome found that a greater consumption of spicy foods was associated with a higher likelihood of having IBS.
On top of that, regular symptoms of IBS can be exacerbated from spicy food ingestion by causing more stomach irritation and diarrhea.
2. It Can Be Painful If You Have Geographic Tongue
In case you don’t know, geographic tongue is a condition where the tongue has patches that seem irregular, smooth, and red.
The name of the condition, formally known as benign migratory glossitis and erythema migrans, comes from the fact these patches show up like parts of a map on your tongue.
The cause of geographic tongue is currently unknown, and it isn’t clear if eating spicy food is linked with the beginning of this disorder.
However, individuals with geographic tongue can be more sensitive to spicy foods, making its consumption a painful experience.
3. It Can Trigger Heartburn
Similarly to geographic tongue, spicy foods may not be the cause of heartburn, but can make an existing condition worse.
As mentioned earlier in the article, because capsaicin acts as an irritant to your insides, consuming spicy food can make acid reflux more painful and longer lasting than it normally would.
Contact The Mindful Healing Clinic
If you have any additional concerns in regards to your diet and spicy food, we can help here at the Mindful Healing Clinic.
We provide a full-range of naturopathic services provided by a physician and licensed naturopathic doctor such as, but not limited to:
– Clinical nutrition
– Botanical medicine
– Traditional Chinese medicine
Here at the Mindful Healing Clinic, we concentrate on the whole person, rather than focusing only on symptomatic treatment, so if eating spicy food is triggering symptoms, we’ll work toward helping you understand why.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic to book your FREE 15-minute introductory session today.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.