How many extreme chili pepper or hot sauces challenges have you seen over the past year?
Three? Ten? Over one hundred? They’re all over YouTube and Facebook, so they’re damned difficult to miss.
These videos always begin in one of two ways. Some people are genuinely terrified of what they’re about to do; they tend to have respect for the heat produced by certain peppers. The other group thinks they’re hot shit and nothing will happen to them when they eat a reaper. (They’re wrong.)
Regardless of how they start, these videos end in the same way – sweating, shortness of breath, retching, and occasionally some serious vomiting. Screaming or crying is obligatory.
Why, oh, why do people do it?
Chili Peppers Are Good for You
If you’ve only ever seen chili peppers as featured in extreme food challenges, you’ll be floored by the incredible good they do a body. Besides being packed with vitamins and antioxidants, you’ll find they offer a short-term metabolic boost.
The hot stuff in chili peppers also turns off your hungry feels and stimulates those that tell you you’re full. Chili peppers reduce the amount of insulin required to lower body glucose by sixty percent. They may cause cancerous cells to commit suicide and even stave off the development of some cancers.
Though known for the pain it creates, the heat compound (capsaicin) is used pharmaceutically to alleviate headaches and chronic aches and pains. Some studies demonstrate this wonder worker’s ability to stop a heart attack while it’s happening.
And, we haven’t even gotten to the flavor yet – or the fact that eating chilies will allow you to cut your consumption of high-fat foods.
There are so many reasons to eat chili peppers that we’re not going to begin counting. But…
There May Be Some Reasons to Avoid Chilies
Okay, how many of those extreme food challenge videos led to some sort of vomiting? Even when they don’t do it on camera, there are pre-cursor symptoms that trigger your own gag reflex, right?
And, that’s not the worst of it. One guy tried a burger with some ghost pepper puree in an eating competition. He began to vomit so violently that he tore a hole in his esophagus. It was about one inch wide! After 23 days in the hospital, we’re pretty sure he didn’t win that competition.
Last year, a guy tried to impress his date by indulging in a super hot sauce. During his frightening convulsions and collapse, paramedics were called. And, they discovered a tumor in his brain. No… that wasn’t the result of the hot sauce, but the capsaicin triggered an interference.
Now, the second guy was grateful to have discovered the tumor in a good time. The first, well… The news reports aren’t clear whether his condition was in any way pre-existing. And, to be fair, it was the excessive vomiting that caused the hole, not the capsaicin in the ghost peppers. (Though, we know why his body was doing that.)
What the Point?
There are loads of good reasons to eat chili peppers and douse your food with super hot sauce. We’re just asking you not to be stupid about it. If you’ve never tried anything hotter than a jalapeño, you don’t want to enter a ghost pepper eating contest.
You’re more likely to experience all the benefits of chili peppers if you approach them with respect and timidity. Don’t just dive into the hottest things you can find. It’s a seriously bad idea.
That said, if you want to continue posting extreme food challenges to YouTube, we don’t really mind. In fact, it keeps us occupied much longer than you might think.