I think it’s safe to say that if you have ever eaten spicy chili peppers or their seeds, you've noticed at least two resulting sensations:
1. Your mouth burns from the pungency.
2. Your body temperature increases—sometimes to the point of breaking a sweat—immediately or shortly after having eaten them.
These two physiological responses are due to a group of compounds known as capsaicinoids, of which capsaicin is the most commonly known (primarily because it’s the one that most strongly stimulates the sensation of spiciness in your mouth and thus it’s used as a gauge of pepper pungency).
It just so happens that the biochemical mechanisms leading to these responses are the same—they are both triggered by capsaicinoids activating a protein known as TRPV1. This is a cell membrane ion channel that regulates the movement of calcium molecules into cells. TRPV1 is found in the mouth, stomach, and intestines.
When TRPV1 is activated, it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system in specific ways that ultimately have anti-obesity effects.
The Anti-Obesity Effects of Chilies
Chili pepper (Capsicum annuum) works as an anti-obesity herb in at least 3 major ways. By:
1. Increasing the rate of energy expenditure, even in the absence of an increase in physical activity. One of the primary functions of TRPV1 is to detect and regulate core body temperature. When TRPV1 is activated by capsaicinoids, it eventually leads to an acute increase in thermogenesis. That is, it stimulates metabolism at the cellular level.
2. Stimulating the break down of fat, especially in abdominal fat cells. Chilies not only encourage the break down of existing fat, but they also help to prevent the deposition of fat into adipocytes (fat cells). Chilies seem to target abdominal fat the most, although this varies among individuals. Some research suggests that abdominal fat accumulates most easily when people are under stress (especially chronic stress) and/or suffer from persistent inflammatory conditions, primarily in their digestive system.
3. Moderating or decreasing appetite. Various clinical studies have shown that almost every subject who added chili powder—either as a food flavouring or as a supplement—to their daily diet experienced a decrease in appetite. The effects were most pronounced in people who don’t eat chilies regularly, suggesting that over time the body adjusts to the satiety inducing effects of chilies.
One of particularly fantastic effect of chilies is that they exert anti-obesity effects without the stimulating effects of substances such as caffeine, to which some people are sensitive. Clinical studies showed that they also support healthy metabolism in subjects who were on severely calorie restricted diets and/or who didn’t engage in regular physical exercise.
This is relevant because a major drawback of calorie restriction is that your body adjusts to the lower food intake and starts to preserve the calories you do eat—converting much of it to fat (to prevent long term starvation)—and also clinging to the fat already stored throughout your body. That’s a double whammy that sets your weight loss goals backward.
What’s the most effective dose for benefiting from the anti-obesity effects of chili peppers? While there isn’t a consensus on the ideal dose of chili peppers, data from clinical studies show that the anti-obesity effects of chili peppers are dose dependent up to a certain threshold beyond which the body adjusts and stabilizes its thermogenic, fat metabolizing, and satiety responses.
I suggest taking a moderate amount—at least 12 mg and up to 30 mg (although some clinical studies reported beneficial effects from short term doses of 2.5 mg and up to 135 mg) per day. Always take chilies with meals—if you take it on an empty stomach you may increase your appetite or may cause digestive sensitivity.
Beyond the Heat
One thing I love to highlight about herbs is that they rarely benefit your health in only one way. This is partly because most contain a myriad of bioactive compounds and because your body is an intricately connected, whole entity that responds to a single stimulus in multiple ways.
Chilies are no different than other medicinal herbs. The overall health benefits of chili peppers are just impressive and desirable as their anti-obesity actions. Chilies:
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Contain antioxidants also increase the activity of the body’s endogenous antioxidant enzymes
- Have anti-inflammatory effects, especially in the digestive and cardiovascular systems
- Help to support healing of lesions in gastrointestinal mucosa
- Support immune system function
- Are high in vitamin C and also contain vitamins B6, A, and K
- Have pain relieving properties
- Help to prevent the formation and metastasis of tumours
When I consider the wonderful natural medicines that surround us, I question why so many man-made drugs are deemed necessary.
Combine New Nordic Chili Burn with New Nordic Apple Cider and New Nordic Mulberry Zuccarin if you want to experience faster and longer lasting results. These three supplements are conveniently combined in the New Nordic Diet Dre 3-Pack.