Eating Healthy: Turning Down the Heat

Desi people love spicy food. The spicier – The better. Biryani, nihari , whatever you can think of, if it is not a shade of flaming red, we are not interested. Though we may have come to regard hot chili peppers like a best friend, perhaps it is time we put a bit of distance between ourselves and that fiery little menace.

A touch of spice is not a bad thing. We have talk about how it can actually benefit your health. It gives the food a certain aroma and your palate a pop that it needs. But we have a local tradition of really piling on the masala. It does not matter what it is, the dish is doused in chili powder and turmeric. At a certain point, it is hard to tell whether we are eating chicken or beef because it is so loaded with spices. The only sensation we can feel is the intense burning in our mouth.


A lot people say how they have “gotten used” to having a lot of spices. And that’s true! Constantly eating spicy food can permanently damage taste buds. Taste buds, like other parts of our body, are subject to wear and tear. After years of being scorched by hot stuff, the sensation of taste can reduce dramatically. This then leads to overeating hot food that leads to gastritis.

An excess of spicy food can cause a condition known as gastritis. It is an inflammation of the stomach lining and spicy foods are known to reduce its protective functions. Chronic gastritis can eventually lead to ulcers, where the stomach acids can no longer be contained by the weakened lining. A serious case of ulcers can lead to a permanent ban of all kinds on hot food.


Another very real danger of over-eating spicy foods is losing sleep. The body needs to reduce its core temperature before we are able to sleep. That’s why we feel so drowsy during winters. Spicy food, on the other hand, raises body temperature. If you have been having restless nights, it may be due to having excessively zesty food before you turn in.

We can list all the dangers of spicy food all day but you will still hear your friends telling you that it does not matter and that “we can take it”. That’s true. When you are younger, you can withstand anything you give your body. The problem arises when you grow older. Factors such as gastritis and acid re-flux prevent a lot of older folk from the food that they have grown to love. Imagine how sad it would be to eat nothing but plain boiled chicken after a lifetime of fun food.

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