Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Are Spicy Foods Bad For You?



Short answer

Eating spicy food, if not overdone, is great for you. It can lead to a reduced risk of several diseases and increase your lifespan.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

There's a saying that goes, "no pain, no gain," and this may very well apply to spicy foods too - in particular, chili peppers. The familiar burning sensation you get on your tongue when eating something spicy is not the spice slicing through your tongue like a razor blade, but rather the capsaicin interacting with your nerve endings. While it may be uncomfortable, cause any lasting damage is extremely rare. 

While spicy foods contain a variety of nutrients, the chemical capsaicin is the one researchers believe responsible for increased longevity and a decreased risk of various diseases. Studies conducted around the world show the benefits of eating spicy food. According to one Hungarian study, spicy food can reduce the risk of stomach bleeding that can occur when taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (such as Aspirin) by decreasing the output of stomach acid. Researchers in Australia found that adding chilies to one's diet can help decrease the risk of high cholesterol. 

Other studies have shown that capsaicin may prevent cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes, and help prevent cardiovascular disease. Also, spicy food may help improve metabolism, destroy bad gut bacteria while promoting good gut flora, and help you lose weight. Spicy foods are often also high in essential nutrients such as vitamin A and calcium. 

There are some risks to take into consideration, though. Spicy food may cause heartburn and/or acid reflux. Also, spicy foods have been shown to aggravate IBS as well as cause diarrhea in some people. One further danger, which is only seen when one consumes large amounts of spice food, is that the stomach lining can be injured, causing problems such as gastritis and colitis. 

Still, the above concerns shouldn't stop you from eating peppers. When eaten in moderation, you will see nothing but benefits. In fact, spicy foods may help you live a longer life, as indeed a Chinese study involving about half a million people showed.

Possible short-term side effects

  • diarrhea
  • heartburn / acid reflux
  • damage to taste buds (rare)
  • damage the stomach lining (rare)


  • reduces risk of cancer
  • reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
  • promotes weight loss
  • promotes longevity
  • helps kill bad stomach bacteria
  • may kill lung and pancreatic cancer cells

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Super Seed Crackers

  • Organic plant protein
  • Gluten-free snack
  • Contains jalapeno flavor
  • Non-GMO
  • Convenient 6-pack
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-12-2016
Last updated: 12-01-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-12-2016
Last updated: 12-01-2023

Random Page

Check These Out!