A single study reporting some major finding is never a good reason to swallow a new idea without chewing on it for a while or waiting for more studies. With that in mind, until further studies come along, we may want to chew and swallow less spicy foods thanks to research from the University of South Australia.
In functional medicine we happily use both supplements and prescriptions, but we love when we can use daily nutritional habits to relieve suffering or prevent disease. The old quote “Let food be thy medicine” is balanced by my rephrasing, “Don’t let food be thy poison”. In this case, we should keep our spicy intake of chili’s with its capsaicin below 50 grams a day. For those 4582 adults in this Chinese study, their chance of dementia increased over 15 years if they consumed over this 50 gram limit. The risk doubled. While they noted that the chili consumption showed benefits for blood pressure control and body weight control, the dementia risk troubles me.
We need further research into these effects as well as to understand why thinner individuals in the study appeared to suffer larger risks for dementia. Until then I will be pointing patients away from excess chili intake as we seek to restore healthier abundant lives for the long term in our patients.
Zumin Shi, Tahra El-Obeid, Malcolm Riley, Ming Li, Amanda Page, Jianghong Liu. High Chili Intake and Cognitive Function among 4582 Adults: An Open Cohort Study over 15 Years. Nutrients, 2019; 11 (5): 1183 DOI: 10.3390/nu11051183
Thanks to Science Daily
University of South Australia. “Warning to those wanting to spice up their lives.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190722105939.htm>.