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Stomaching Spicy Food


mb7o
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Recently I went to a Thai restaurant with some friends, and we ordered the food 0 star. Mind you, I'm not a chilihead. But I'd like to have a moderate level of spice, it's one of the key elements of Thai cuisine. However, my friends claim it will irritate their digestive system and don't want to pay that price.

Has anyone gone though this and 'strengtehend' their systems to be able to eat spicy food again? Any ideas or suggestions?

Antacids? Aloe drinks? Purgatives? I think at least one doctor's suggestion was 'well don't do that', which makes sense for allergies, and certainly is a better answer than 'you've got a life-threatening disease'. But there must be more than that.

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Milk and yoghurt do work. I think the more spicy food you eat, the more you are able to tolerate (something to do with killing off taste buds?? not sure). However, I have friends addicted to hot & spicy who suffer for it afterwards - but arise no less determined to order the hottest vindaloo, eat the onion / peppers and so on.

Hope your friends don't prevent you from indulging in the red end of the spectrum too often....

cheers

Maliaty

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Recently I went to a Thai restaurant with some friends, and we ordered the food 0 star. Mind you, I'm not a chilihead. But I'd like to have a moderate level of spice, it's one of the key elements of Thai cuisine. However, my friends claim it will irritate their digestive system and don't want to pay that price.

Has anyone gone though this and 'strengtehend' their systems to be able to eat spicy food again? Any ideas or suggestions?

Antacids? Aloe drinks? Purgatives? I think at least one doctor's suggestion was 'well don't do that', which makes sense for allergies, and certainly is a better answer than 'you've got a life-threatening disease'. But there must be more than that.

Nothing works, dude. You pay to play. It either is going to affect you or it isn't.

I'm one of those people who has an adverse reaction to spicy food, but eats it anyway.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Obviously there are several elements to a tolerance. One is a palate for spicyness and one is a stomach for it. And I suspect the "stomach" part consists of different symptoms for different people.

Of course we should be specific to start. By "spicy" I'm assuming we mean an effect from capsicum--from chilis--as opposed to garlicky, gingery, numbing (as from sichuan peppercorn), or merely an "overly complex" taste from the use of too many kinds of spices for someone's tastes. And of course a perception of "greasiness" often mixes with a reaction to "spicyness" and exacerbates it or confuses people.

I've got pretty good tolerance for both the palate and "stomach" portions, but I'll add "so far" since I'm just waiting for that ulcer to hurt my tolerance. :smile:

I'm trying to recall what medical conditions I've heard of that lead to instances of stomach issues with spicyness, and I think there are quite a number of them. I mean what... everything from allergies, to diverticulitis, to hemorrhoids, I'd imagine. Thus I doubt there is one "cure".

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I find that spicy food is good for my respiratory system and usually also good for my stomach. What does happen if I have food that contains really high degrees of hot pepper is that I sometimes feel the hot pepper sensation later when I defecate (which I guess others would call the "next day chili" sensation). This happens only on fairly rare occasions, and I don't find it so unpleasant that it overbalances the pleasant taste and positive respiratory effects of eating the spicy food.

In terms of building up tolerance, that's done by gradually introducing more hot pepper into the diet. I think it's worth it but you may differ.

If you have to take anything other than more rice and drink (or, in the case of Indian food, more raita or/and dal) to counteract the hot pepper, have less hot pepper. A calcium-based antacid binds with fat, so that's fine and in fact often recommended to take after a fatty meal, but if you're thinking of using purgatives, back off.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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...but I'll add "so far" since I'm just waiting for that ulcer to hurt my tolerance. :smile:

I'm pretty sure that ulcers are not caused by what you eat (or drink), they're a viral infection so you don't need to worry about chilli induced ulcers.

On the general subject, I believe that one can quite easily build up a tolerance to spicy food. My wife an I took our 2 month honeymoon in Vietnam and Thailand. When we got back to the UK (where I think the Thai food is still a lot hotter than the US) none of the spicy food seemed hot enough. Since then our tolerance has definitely declined; still good but not invulnerable :hmmm:

We regularly discuss going back to Thailand to freshen up our curry muscles...

Edited by sockettrousers (log)
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...but I'll add "so far" since I'm just waiting for that ulcer to hurt my tolerance. :smile:

I'm pretty sure that ulcers are not caused by what you eat (or drink), they're a viral infection so you don't need to worry about chilli induced ulcers.

No, I mean the ulcer which makes me not able to eat spicy food. Stress will cause the ulcer well enough. :wink:

And for those poor souls who suffer from some kind of "ring of fire" syndrome on a regular basis, I can't really suggest much more than aggressive use of aloe vera or possibly laser surgery. :biggrin:

Actually I have to wonder how much the reactions on the elimination end (this discussion is definitely NOT making me hungry) are tied to digestion. Will better digested capsicum eliminate itself in a kinder fashion? Is it the oil in chili oil making it's way... er... south... in such a hasty fashion or will this happen equally with solid spice?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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And for those poor souls who suffer from some kind of "ring of fire" syndrome on a regular basis, I can't really suggest much more than aggressive use of aloe vera or possibly laser surgery. :biggrin:

Actually I have to wonder how much the reactions on the elimination end (this discussion is definitely NOT making me hungry) are tied to digestion. Will better digested capsicum eliminate itself in a kinder fashion? Is it the oil in chili oil making it's way... er... south... in such a hasty fashion or will this happen equally with solid spice?

Laser surgery for red pepper intolerance? Just a joke, right?

For me, the worst is a good strong kimchi, so it's the pepper powder, definitely no oil in there.

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...but I'll add "so far" since I'm just waiting for that ulcer to hurt my tolerance. :smile:

I'm pretty sure that ulcers are not caused by what you eat (or drink), they're a viral infection so you don't need to worry about chilli induced ulcers.

Not to get too far afield, but I think many if not most ulcers are caused by the Helicobacter pylori bacterium. But, be that as it may... :biggrin:

I actually have a friend who has problems with ulcers that are not caused by H. pylori, and he loves spicy food but it can be really tough on him. He had a birthday dinner at Grand Sichuan in Midtown Manhattan, and had such a bad reaction it caused him to bleed enough internally to get dizzy and tired and run a fever for awhile. It was really unpleasant for him, poor guy, and he really is a gastronome and someone who I've shared a lot of good food with. I'm not sure if he's completely recovered yet or not, but he was well enough to go on vacation a few weeks later and is to my knowledge still on vacation. I'll doubtless speak with him soon.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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And for those poor souls who suffer from some kind of "ring of fire" syndrome on a regular basis, I can't really suggest much more than aggressive use of aloe vera or possibly laser surgery.  :biggrin:

Actually I have to wonder how much the reactions on the elimination end (this discussion is definitely NOT making me hungry) are tied to digestion.  Will better digested capsicum eliminate itself in a kinder fashion?  Is it the oil in chili oil making it's way... er... south... in such a hasty fashion or will this happen equally with solid spice?

Laser surgery for red pepper intolerance? Just a joke, right?

For me, the worst is a good strong kimchi, so it's the pepper powder, definitely no oil in there.

Yes, but for argument's sake lets say that you divide the digestive timeline into vague stages--let's say 1 through 5. 1 is immediately after you eat, 2 is within the next hour after the meal, 3 is the next 4 hours or so after that, 4 is the rest of the time it's in your body, and 5 is the time it leaves your body. So which number or numbers are the ones representing where and how spicy food "gets" you?

0, I guess would represent people who get sick to their stomach just looking at or smelling the food.

This entirely unscientific breakdown is totally arbitrary, so let's not debate it too much. It just seems easier than talking about body parts and fire rings. :huh::wacko::unsure::shock::angry:

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I can't find the report in the archives but, a few years ago, one of the medical schools here (Baylor I think) did a study on hot pepper and tummies. They actually used volunteers, some with healthy stomachs and some with ulcer problems. They would feed the subjects pure capsaicin (the hot stuff), not in food, and then take a look at the inside of the stomach with a fiber optic device. (ACK!) They didn't see any irritation of the stomach lining in either case and the subjects didn't report any discomfort. I seem to recall that other conditions, like diverticulitis, could be a problem if eating chile peppers with seeds. There was also speculation that sometimes the foods with peppers would also contain more fat than the person normally eats and that could cause some upset. But they couldn't make a case for capsaicin being an irritant to the stomach.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Interesting. Well, Grand Sichuan also tends to use a lot of fat, so I suppose that could have accounted for some of my friend's problems. He and his doctor think spicy food is a problem for him, however, and there are times when an individual's empirical results trump the results of larger studies of others.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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There is definitely individual variation. My son used to be able to eat the hottest of curries and has eaten hot peppers since he was a kid. He has had to cut back on the heat some but he thinks it is probably sensitivity to something else in the peppers since not all types (jalapenos versus cayenne for instance) affect him the same way. The number and type of flavor compounds in peppers is mind boggling.

edit to add: Come to think of it, if I am going to get any upsets from peppers it will be an overabundance of green bell pepper. Go figure. It is one of the few things that will give me the burps and a very slight upset.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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What's funny about me is that I have no trouble with hot peppers of any type, except if there are too many of them, but bell peppers of any variety upset my stomach - green are the worst, but red, yellow, whatever, they're bad for me. I can eat a few pieces without much trouble, but when I forget to ask them to hold the bell peppers (emphasizing that hot peppers are good), as I often do, I tend to pick them out piece by piece. This happens to me a lot with Chinese food.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I can't find the report in the archives but, a few years ago, one of the medical schools here (Baylor I think) did a study on hot pepper and tummies.

Very interesting.

jhlurie,

Assuming access to decent health care is readily attainalble, there is no reason for anyone to have any type of ongoing ulcer today. There are drug, antibiotic, and surgical treatments.

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I can't find the report in the archives but, a few years ago, one of the medical schools here (Baylor I think) did a study on hot pepper and tummies.

Very interesting.

jhlurie,

Assuming access to decent health care is readily attainalble, there is no reason for anyone to have any type of ongoing ulcer today. There are drug, antibiotic, and surgical treatments.

Being a recently recovered (yet unemployed) college student, there is one damned good reason: poverty.

I usually look at peppers as something that aids the digestive tract. If there is something that causes true upset, I usually suspect seeds.

But, I've heard of several studies along the lines of fifi's that indicate that spicy food is typically benign if not even beneficial toward the digestive tract. At some occasions it acts as a counter-irritant, a la icy-hot, which will tend to aid in the recovery from digestive pain.

Of course, if there is an active lesion somewhere, spicy food can be as irritating as rubbing salt in an open wound. Premedicate with beer :biggrin: :remove tongue from cheek:

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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re: ulcers -- Sigh. People around here REALLY can't tell when I'm joking, even WITH the smileys. I'm not really worried about ulcers. "Active lesion" is such an unpleasant phrase, by the way.

re: diverticulitis -- more likely some day, since I've got a family history.

As for the studies suggesting the digestive harmlessness of capsicum, I can understand that. I still think it has to have something to do with the oil content for many people, except for whoever has the kimchi-related problems like Katherine. Again, I think the er... "region" or timeline of the discomfort have to be key here. I know my grandfather, with his diverticulitis, took all of five minutes to react to spicy food, but I've seen people with other conditions take hours, and certainly the people who only have an "exit" problem with the stuff aren't on the same timeline.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Assuming access to decent health care is readily attainalble, there is no reason for anyone to have any type of ongoing ulcer today. There are drug, antibiotic, and surgical treatments.

Not everyone responds to those treatments.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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which I guess others would call the "next day chili" sensation

No, we call it Ring of Fire.

...and the Johnny Cash song still brings a smile to my face. Every time.

Sung to the tune of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"

Dinner last night

Was quite a treat

Tried to see how much hot stuff

That we could eat

Next morning though

My innards grumbled

So off to the bathroom

I quickly fumbled

I sat down on a burnin' ring of fire

I tried to flush it down

But the flames they got higher

And it burns, burns, burns

That ring of fire

That ring of fire

Now you would have thought

By now I'd have learned

That a firey mouth

Ain't all that burns

My thighs are marked

By a painful grip

A whimpering cry

Sighs 'cross my lip

I sat down on a burnin' ring of fire

I tried to flush it down

But the flames they got higher

And it burns, burns, burns

That ring of fire

That ring of fire

I always tell myself

Lord! Never Again!

But I know it's not if

But more likely when

Those chiles entice

I can't say no

Whip out my Chile-head card

Psssst! Here we go!

I'll sit down on a burnin' ring of fire

I will try to flush it down

But the flames they'll get higher

And it'll burn, burn, burn

That ring of fire

That ring of fire!

firesmile.gif

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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