Gastronomical Problems: Spicy Food and the Explosive Effect
Indians love their spices. But did you know that excessively spicy food can lead to all sorts of digestion issues? We spoke to Dr. S K Thakur, Gastroenterologist from Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi. He explains, “Spices are added to our food to improve the taste. However, once they reach the digestive tract they may cause irritation to the stomach's mucosal lining. Spices increase the acid secretion and reduce the strength of the gastritis mucosal barrier.”
“Overindulgence of spicy food may cause various stomach ailments. The main reason behind these problems is the presence of high acidic content in spicy food. Although spices provide a number of vitamins and nutrients that are present in abundance, too much of these nutrients can be harmful too,” he adds. Following are the ailments caused by extra spices in everyday food:
Acid reflux: Spices are basically a combination of acids. When too much of these acids are introduced into the stomach, which already has its own acidic contents, it starts damaging the walls of the stomach.
Acute gastritis: It is caused due to inflammation of the gastric mucosa, the membrane that lines the stomach. Many people suffer occasional, mild bouts of gastritis, which are often passed off as simple indigestion. Acute gastritis is generally characterized by symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, fever, diarrhea, headache accompanied by bleeding in vomiting or passed in the stool.
Gastric ulcer: Spicy food can cause ulcers in the sensitive mucosal lining or in the small intestine, called the duodenum (duodenal ulcer), or either in the esophagus (esophageal ulcer). Gastric ulcers are painful causing burning stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and weight loss.
Insomnia: Spicy food raises the body temperature, which may trigger insomnia thus, it is advisable to avoid spicy food at dinner.
Loss of appetite: Spicy food is safe for consumption when taken in moderate amounts. One may eat spicy food 3-4 times a week.
Spicy food lovers should take care of the following:
- Spices should only be taken in main meals
- Avoid combination of fried oily and spicy food as it can increase acid secretion
- Avoid having spicy food in late night meals
- Drink milk in order to neutralize acid secreted by spicy food
- If you are experiencing digestion issues due to spicy food, then take antacids one hour after the meal and before bedtime.
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images