Eating curry may improve health and extend life – study

Eating chilli peppers regularly is one way of switching off pain.

CALIFORNIA – While the debate over the superiority of Guyana or Trinidad curry shows no sign of cooling down, a new study shows that merely eating curry – regardless of its culinary merit – may be a hot way to live longer.

The connection between spicing up your diet and promoting longevity was made by researchers who say that blocking the body’s ability to feel pain boosts lifespan – and that eating chilli peppers regularly is one way of switching off pain.

Experiments in mice showed that stopping pain signals from reaching the brain extended their lifespan, with animals that could not make a pain-sensing protein called TRPV1 “exceptionally long-lived.”

In addition to a 14 percent longer lifespan, the animals were also healthier, developing cancer less often and experiencing less memory loss with age.

The mice also seemed to be able to burn off calories without extra exercise, and their metabolism, including their ability to process sugar, remained youthful late in life with the potential to cut the risk of diabetes, the journal Cell reports.

According to University of California researcher Professor Andrew Dillin: “We think that blocking this pain receptor and pathway could be very, very useful not only for relieving pain, but for improving lifespan and metabolic health and in particular for treating diabetes and obesity in humans.

“As humans age, they report a higher incidence of pain, suggesting that pain might drive the ageing process,” he added.

While the animals used in his research had been genetically engineered to prevent them from making the TRPV1 pain sensor, Professor Dillin said that regularly eating capsaicin, the active compound in chilli peppers, should stop the sensor from working.

“Chronic ingestion of compounds that affect TRPV1, such as capsaicin, might help prevent metabolic decline with age and lead to increased longevity in humans,” he said.

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