Sure, a good diet and plenty of exercise can lead to a healthier lifestyle, but it turns out the true key to longevity may actually be hidden inside a tiny chili pepper.
To understand how it works, we have to dial it down a notch. Let’s start with capsaicin. That’s the part of the pepper that makes hot chilis taste so very hot. When you eat a hot pepper, a receptor protein called TRPV1 is activated. It senses the heat and our blood vessels begin to relax.
Capsaicin is already known to help with minor aches and pains, but that may not be the end of it.
Several years ago, a study began looking at pain and the aging process. Naturally as you get older you report more pain. Researchers found that by genetically manipulating mice to lack TRPV1, the mice lived about 14-percent longer than other mice. By blocking the pain receptor, researchers were able to extend the lifespan of mice, and give them a relatively younger metabolism. In the same way, constantly activating the TRPV1 receptor with chilis can mimic the loss of TRPV1. Therefore, by eating capsaicin, it may be possible to help prevent metabolic decline as we age, possibly leading to increased longevity.
Whether this can actually happen remains to be seen. We do know, however, that eating a diet rich in capsaicin has been shown to result in fewer metabolic problems and a lower incidence of diabetes. So, your chili addiction may not be the entire answer to longevity, but it may not hurt, either. The next time you feel like spicing up your food with some chilis high on the Scoville scale, just remember they not only make your meal taste better but may just give you a few extra years to enjoy doing what you love the most.