According to a new study, blocking the body’s ability to feel pain can help you live longer. In animal experiments, mice genetically altered not to feel pain not only lived longer but were healthier than normal mice. One food naturally able to block the sensation of pain in humans is chili peppers.
In a recent study, researchers were able to find a direct link between pain sensations and mortality. A group of mice lacking the TRPV1 pain receptors were compared against unaltered mice. Results showed that mice without the ability to feel pain were remarkably healthier. According to the Daily Mail, these mice were less likely to develop cancer, had better memory in old age, burned off more calories without exercise, and their metabolism and ability to process sugar stayed healthy as they aged.
“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,” Andrew Dillin, lead researcher of the study, explained to the Daily Mail.
Although the animals in the study had been genetically altered not to feel pain, chili peppers are able to do this naturally. This is because of the capsaicin they contain. Capsaicin is used to treat all types of pain, ranging from arthritis pain, neuropathic pain, or skin conditions that have a painful itch, ABC News reported.
Although eating chili peppers has not been proven to make humans live longer, based on the results from this study, theoretically, it should work. "Chronic ingestion of compounds that affect TRPV1 such as capsaicin might help prevent metabolic decline with age and lead to increased longevity in humans," Dillin added.
Aside from perhaps making you live longer, chili peppers are also capable of giving people a euphoric sensation when consumed in large quantities. "There's a massive endorphin rush, and I feel really good after all the pain and craziness," he said. "My body starts tingling all over, my hands and arms start to go numb, and I sometimes get lightheaded and euphoric. It feels good," Ted Barrus, a Washington State man who has made a habit out of eating chili peppers, told ABC News. This is because the body naturally releases endorphins in response to pain and stress, such as eating a large amount of hot peppers.
Some experts suggest that capsaicin can help suppress appetite and aid in weight loss, although this has yet to be proved.
Source: Dillin A, Riera CE, Huising MO, et al. TRPV1 Pain Receptors Regulate Longevity and Metabolism by Neuropeptide Signaling. Cell. 2014.