Chillies have been used throughout history for numerous medicinal benefits. However, as they are part of the nightshade family, some people might perform better without them. Here’s an outline of the health benefits and potential side effects of chillies.
- Fights inflammation
Chillies contain a compound called capsaicin; it’s what makes them hot. Capsaicin is associated with inhibiting inflammatory processes in the body1.
- Reduces the risk of ulcers and helps to heal them
Despite popular belief, capsaicin prevents the release of acid secretion and instead stimulates alkali, mucus secretion and blood flow to a layer of the stomach called the gastric mucosa, all of which aid the prevention and healing of ulcers2.
- Helps to prevent cancer
Inflammation is suspected to be a significant cause of cancer so the anti-inflammatory properties provided by capsaicin in chillies helps to prevent cancer3.
- Keeps the fat-burning fire alive
Capsaicin helps to lessen the reduction of metabolic rate caused by a weight-loss diet4. Chillies are also thermogenic, meaning that they slightly increase body temperature after consumption, which in turn increases energy expenditure5.
- Aids detoxification
By increasing the temperate of the body and causing it to sweat, chillies can help to remove toxins6.
- Clears congestion
As chillies promote mucus secretion in the lungs and nose, they can help when feeling bunged-up7.
Potential Negative Side Effects
- Digestive issues
Nightshade vegetables contain alkaloids and lectins, two compounds which might present problems for some people with sensitive digestive systems8.
- Bodily function
Alkaloids can also negatively affect nerves, joints and muscles as well as contributing to loss of calcium from bones due to a hormone called calcitriol9.
How and When I Use Them
To my knowledge, I am not hypersensitive to chillies as I don’t suffer with brain fog, achy muscles or fatigue after eating them. That being said, I choose not to eat nightshades on a daily basis as I am concerned about the lectins present. Instead, I eat chillies in certain dishes, such as beef chilli, simply because I enjoy spicy food. By cooking nightshades, some of the lectins are destroyed and the alkaloid levels are lowered by about half10. As my digestive system isn’t severely compromised, these are levels I can stomach.