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Spice up your satiety?

The active ingredient in spicy food, capsaicin, seems to have some effect on satiety. But researchers weren’t quite sure what it was or how it happens, until this highly controlled experiment was done

Study under review: Capsaicin-induced satiety is associated with gastrointestinal distress but not with the release of satiety hormones

Introduction

Do you love the burn of spicy food, or prefer to take it mild? The heat of peppers, hot sauces, and many other pepper-based spicy foods comes from a chemical called capsaicin. In addition to gastronomical pleasures, there is research that suggests consumption of capsaicin can promote[1] weight loss. The mechanism by which this occurs is not well defined. Some researchers have suggested that capsaicin has a direct effect on how the body expends energy, either through the activation[2] of brown adipose tissue (generating heat as a byproduct) or through increases[3] in fat oxidation. Other researchers hypothesize that there is an effect on various biological responses like catecholamines[4] (including epinephrine and norepinephrine, which can suppress appetite) or insulin[5]. A third hypothesis is that foods containing capsaicin work to decrease[6] appetite, and thus overall caloric intake.

Who and what was studied?

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What were the findings?

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What does the study really tell us?

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The big picture

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Frequently Asked Questions

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What should I know?

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Other Articles in Issue #16 (February 2016)