Factcheck: can turmeric and hot pepper to protect against viral diseases

Trying to strengthen the immunity during a pandemic, people began to stock up on healthy food. The turn of turmeric, and hot pepper when there was a rumor that they kill the virus 2019-nCoV. Whether so it actually, figured out the edition of the BBC.

Фактчек: могут ли куркума и острый перец защитить от вирусных заболеваний

Photo: Shutterstock

There is a perception that spicy (e.g., pepper) repels viral disease. Believe in it and Hillary Clinton, who, they say, every day, eat a pod of hot pepper Chile during the election campaign, not to get sick.

Turmeric, which thousands of years have used in Asia as a spice, not so long ago settled in the fashionable coffee houses around the world in the “Golden latte” and became a trend as a dietary Supplement that strengthens the immunity and protects from diseases.

Meanwhile, Cayenne pepper is famous in 2013, an ingredient of the “beyoncé diet” to reduce weight, subsequently harshly criticized the British Association of physicians nutritionists, who called this way of eating is dangerous.

The people long ago, hundreds of years ago, were in the habit to add in food of black pepper or a pod of chili or brew ginger tea. But only recently some spices have received the unofficial status of a medicinal superfood.

But is it really spices healthy or even able to protect from diseases? And can they harm us?

Some like it hot

Chili peppers (red hot peppers) — one of the most popular spices in the world. His influence on our health have been studied in many studies, and the results are mixed.

The main active ingredient in Chile is capsaicin. When we eat hot pepper, capsaicin molecules affect the temperature receptors in our body that send a signal to the brain to create a feeling of warmth.

Some studies seem to support the idea that capsaicin can help us live longer.

In 2019 in one Italian study found that people who four times a week, ate foods spiced with hot peppers, had lower risk of dying compared with those who never ate chili. (The researchers took into account factors such as Smoking, exercise and overall quality of the diet).

In 2015, scientists who observed the consumption of chili and the state of health of almost half a million Chinese adults, found the same thing. Those who ate almost every day food, flavored with spices, the risk of death in the observation period was reduced by 14% compared to those who ate such food less than once a week.

“The main conclusions was that a larger number of spices in food is associated with lower risk of death, particularly from cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases,” says Lou Tzu, a Professor and nutritionist from the Harvard school of public health.

All this, however, does not mean that we come in large numbers to eat a hot pepper, our health will improve — or that it will protect us from disease. At least in the short term this will not happen.

It is important to understand that in a Chinese study people watching an average of seven years each.

So even if chili’s and had a protective effect on the health of the participants (not just those who ate the pepper, was initially healthier) anyway — this impact increases over time and certainly not for weeks or months.

Professor Tzu tried to separate the effects of consuming hot peppers from the rest, given the age, gender, level of education, marital status, diet and other factors such as alcohol consumption, Smoking and physical activity.

According to the Professor, the lower the risk of death in those who eat chili, can partly be associated with the action of capsaicin.

Some studies have shown that capsaicin can increase the amount of combustible energy and reduce appetite.

Zumin Shi, assistant Professor, Department of nutrition Qatar University, found that consumption of hot peppers is associated with a lower risk of obesity and useful for reducing high blood pressure.

And when she had begun to study the implications for cognitive cognitive function of a person she was expecting and then Chile will work.

And it worked — just not as well as expected Sumin Shea. Those of Chinese adults who ate more chili, there was a decrease of this function.

This was particularly noticeable on the example of memory: the reception of chilli in a greater amount than 50 grams per day, combined with an almost doubled risk of poor memory — at least, according to the participants themselves. (Here, however, it is worth noting that such voluntarily provided data is usually not considered reliable.)

The feeling of warmth that occurs when you eat a chili pepper, has long attracted the attention of scientists. It partly may explain why regular consumption of hot peppers may be due to the fading of cognitive functions: this feeling is a result of how plants have evolved in an attempt to protect themselves from diseases and parasites.

“Some plants in the course of evolution become bitter to the taste or burning, but even better if the plant itself can produce toxins, like a predator,” said Kirsten Brandt, senior lecturer at the Institute of research in the field of human nutrition in Newcastle University (UK).

But these connections usually affect man to a much lesser extent than insects. “A smidgen of toxin can even be useful — for example, caffeine to accelerate our metabolism, then we feel more cheerful, she says. — However, a large number of toxins will bring you harm.”

On the other hand, even if a compound in the spice may be useful for us, we almost never consumed such a quantity that had to be this effect.

Take, for example, polyphenols, compounds found in many plants and has anti-inflammatory effect. Partly due to the high content of polyphenols in the spices last and attributed medicinal properties.

But an analysis of studies produced in 2014 showed that it remains unclear whether our health is quite a limited number of polyphenols, which we consumed with spices.

“Treatment with turmeric”

Another popular spice, which they say that it is useful, is turmeric, and usefulness it is customary to explain the content of curcumin, a small molecule found in turmeric. It is used in alternative medicine to relieve inflammation, stress and many other conditions.

However, reliable information that turmeric is helpful, no.

Numerous studies have shown that in laboratory, curcumin can exert anticancer effects.

However, laboratory conditions are very different from the conditions of the human body. And the fact that curcumin is poorly soluble in water means that our body will not be able to use it correctly when we receive it from food with turmeric.

The growing interest in spices as a means of alternative medicine, which now we see in the West, can be compared with the interest which was last seen in the Middle ages when it was believed that spices have healing properties, says Paul Friedman, Professor of history at Yale University.

“Spices used to balance food, explains Friedman. — People considered the particular food as hot, cold, wet or dry. They wanted a balance.” For example, fish was considered cold and moist, and the spices hot and dry.

The idea of using food as medicine based Ayurvedic medicine practiced in India for millennia.

In many Western countries, where similar ideas are new, the idea of balance is divided into modern medicine, “new age,” says Friedman.

“Our modern fascination with spices sends us even 50 years ago, and right in the Middle of the century. Half a century ago modern medicine with antibiotics medicine from superstition was separated by a blank wall,” he says.

Katherine Nelson, a research Professor at the University of Minnesota, is engaged in, among other things, that determines whether you can use these or other molecules and compounds for new drugs. She decided to study the issue of curcumin.

Nelson found that curcumin is not suitable for use in drugs because its molecules are not bioavailable, not biosfaety. This means that the body can’t use them after they are digested.

Them poor at learning the small intestine, their structure may change when associated with proteins in small and large intestines. As a result, the action of curcumin is almost not noticeable.

Фактчек: могут ли куркума и острый перец защитить от вирусных заболеваний

Photo: Shutterstock

According to Nelson, if there’s something useful in turmeric, it is not curcumin. Besides, turmeric is cooked as part of dishes together with other products subjected to heating, so its chemical components change.

There are many turmeric — is not harmful, says Nelson, but are not advised to apply it as a medicine.

Correlation vs causation

Hot pepper and turmeric, it would seem, was investigated along and across, but in most studies only compared the data consumption and various health outcomes, where it is impossible to understand what is cause and what is the result.

Well, a study conducted in the laboratory, will not necessarily get the same results in humans.

As in many other studies in the field of nutrition, it is difficult to separate correlation from causality.

Take, for example, an Italian study of 2019, in which the consumption of chilli is associated with reduced risk of death.

It was observational, that is, it is impossible to say definitely whether the consumption of Chile makes people live longer, or just more healthy people like hot peppers. Or even work something else.

One of the keys to unlocking, however, is as follows: how hot pepper is consumed by Italians and other Mediterranean Nations, the author of the study Maria Laura Bonacci, an epidemiologist with the Mediterranean Institute of neurology (Italy).

“Hot capsicum usual for Mediterranean cuisine, she says. Mostly it is eaten with pasta, beans or vegetables.”

This is just one example of how spices can benefit indirectly — they are eaten with legumes and vegetables.

Studies have also shown that adding spices in the burgers could potentially lead to formation in the body a lesser amount of free radicals, that is, making the meat less carcinogenic.

However, these health benefits can be attributed simply to the preservative qualities of spices, noted by other scholars: in fact the addition of spices to meat has long been known way longer keep him. In any case, it makes the food less harmful to us.

Many researchers believe that the benefits from consumption of spices boils down to what we eat. For example, they often replace salt. Spices make food tasty and flavorful and can be a healthier alternative to salt.

In addition, we frequently add spices to vegetable dishes and vegetables are certainly useful.

In General, although the “Golden latte” is not going to hurt you, more good health will be from vegetables, flavored with spices.

And of course, we should not rely on spice as a way to protect themselves from disease or to heal from it.

As previously wrote ForumDaily:

  • What are the myths about the immune system can seriously harm your health
  • Coronavirus, and vaccination against tuberculosis: whether it provides immunity
  • Have contracted COVID-19 Chinese doctors have dark skin: what is the reason

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