Could the answer to fighting obesity be found in a chili pepper derivative?
That’s what scientists want to know. A team of researchers in Wyoming found some positive results in battling obesity by using an oral form of capsaicin. They discovered the capsaicin was able to stimulate the TRPV1 receptor, which then helped turn white fat cells into calorie-burning brown fat. Capsaicin has already been used successfully in topical form for pain because of how it works on the receptor. While capsaicin activates TRPV1 with a painful sensation, with constant exposure, it’s been shown to do just the opposite and alleviate pain.
Other research has already shown a connection between TRPV1 and metabolism.
In that case, researchers coated capsaicin with a polymer, making it into a pill that slowly released capsaicin. When they tried it out on mice fed a high-fat diet, the mice were able to maintain weight loss over a span of eight months with no observable safety problems. Researchers need to know just how long the effects can last, but they do say they found some marked improvements in cholesterol and blood sugar levels, symptoms of fatty liver disease, and insulin response.
Even though this is positive news, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can just eat chili peppers.
Consuming peppers high on the hot pepper scale may help, but it probably isn’t the entire answer. That’s because most of the time the capsaicin found in spicy food isn’t absorbed very well. In the meantime, researchers are looking for new ways to transform white fat into brown fat. Still, hot peppers do have a lot of health benefits, so don’t give up on eating hot peppers. Some research has shown eating hot peppers helps people feel fuller, which may help with portion control. That could also, perhaps, help you maintain weight or even lose a few pounds.