In 2017, 90% of US consumers said they enjoy eating hot and spicy food in a Kalsec survey.
Despite the growing popularity, spicy foods do have a downside – they can cause health problems, especially if you have too much.
INSIDER spoke to several doctors to find out how spicy food can affect your health and what signs you should watch out for if you’re overdoing it.
You experience heartburn.
Heartburn occurs when your stomach acid flows back up into your food pipe, causing a burning feeling in your chest.
“Hot peppers, spicy curry, and other spicy foods trigger a reflux of gastric juices of the stomach into the esophagus, which causes heartburn,” Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, MD, told INSIDER.
Plus, many spicy foods contain a compound called capsaicin, which slows down the rate at which you digest. The food, therefore, will stay in your stomach longer, increasing your risk of heartburn.
You’re breaking out.
If you’ve ever accidentally touched your eye after eating spicy food, you know how much it can burn. Spicy ingredients, sauces, and dishes can be serious skin irritants and can also cause flare-ups in existing skin conditions.
Specifically, the side effects you may experience from eating spicy foods can increase your chances of a breakout. After a spicy meal, the body temperature rises and produces sweat, which triggers oils to be released in the skin. Dirt and bacteria get trapped by those oils, exacerbating skin conditions like acne.
“Spicy foods may cause people to break out,” Rebecca Tung, a dermatologist in La Grange Park, Illinois, told Allure. “When spicy food creates inflammation in the gut – from an upset stomach, acid reflux, or other symptoms – sometimes this inflammation can also be seen on the skin with flushing, acne breakout, or even eczema.”
You have the runs.
Diarrhoea can be caused by foods that contain oils, stimulants, artificial ingredients, and spices. In fact, spicy seasoning is one of the most common sources of food-induced diarrhoea.
You need a mint.
Onions and garlic are some of the more obvious causes of bad breath, but spicy foods could also be a source – mostly because of the digestive problems these dishes can bring about.
When you experience heartburn, your stomach contents move back up your esophagus, which may cause a bad-smelling gas to come out of your mouth.
You have insomnia.
Because peppery or spicy foods are known to cause heartburn, this condition can be worsened when you’re trying to go to sleep. Lying down makes it easier for the acids in your stomach to flow back up to, and burn the lining of, your esophagus. Therefore, the discomfort from heartburn can make it difficult to fall asleep.
To avoid this, try not to eat spicy foods too late at night, and don’t sit for too long afterward either. Get up and take a walk if you can, Dr. David Greuner, MD, recommended.
You have a sore throat or lost your voice.
Eating spicy foods can cause your vocals cords to inflame, leaving you with a hoarse voice. And besides being an irritant to your throat, spicy foods can do even more damage because of the acid reflux it can trigger.
You’ve lost your appetite.
Some studies have found that spicy foods can curb appetite. Research has shown that people felt more satisfied after eating hot and spicy foods and consumed less fat.
Although a curbed appetite seems like an easy way to lose weight, it is not recommended to eat spicy food daily. If you overdo it, a loss of appetite could become a much more serious problem.
You have signs of acute gastritis.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and a feeling of fullness in your upper abdomen after eating. To avoid harming your stomach, try to reduce the amount of spicy food you eat.
You’re starting to sweat.
Sweating after eating spicy food is a normal response, so don’t be alarmed. It is, however, your body’s way of trying to cool you down, after the capsaicin in spicy food sends signals to your brain telling it that you’re overheating.
If you want to combat or reduce the effects of capsaicin, you can try drinking milk. In fact, drinking or eating any dairy products along with your spicy foods can be soothing and cooling, according to Dr. Greuner.
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