Some Like It hot

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CollegeB
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Some Like It hot

#1 Postby CollegeB » Wed Nov 16, 2005 9:53 am

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... icine.html

Why Some Like It Hot: Spices Are Nature's Meds, Scientist Says
John Roach
for National Geographic News
November 11, 2005

People who live in warm climates are attracted to spicy foods because the red-hot seasonings keep people healthy, according to a scientist who takes a Darwinian approach to medicine.

"The Darwinian approach asks the question, Why are certain things the way they are, which is a complement to the approach of asking, How do things work?" said Paul Sherman, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Sherman's research shows that people in warmer regions of the world benefit from eating spicier foods, because spices are natural antimicrobials. Food-borne pathogens and parasites are more prolific in warmer climates, and spices can kill or inhibit their growth.

When people in a country like Thailand, for instance, eat a spicy meal, they are much less likely to spend the next day with a bout of diarrhea than people in that region who eat bland foods.

"Humans do what makes them feel good, and they learn from each other," Sherman said, adding that people in hot climates learned that spicy food is less likely to make them sick and thus developed a preference for it.

"The simple mechanism is they felt better after eating food that was spicy, and since they felt better they learned to like that stuff," Sherman said. "Over time, word-of-mouth spread the news."

In cooler climates such as Iceland, a steak left outside overnight might freeze. The cold would slow germ growth in the meat, rendering the use of spices unnecessary. As a result, Icelandic dishes tend to be bland.

But that's not a bad thing, Sherman said. Why take antimicrobials when they are not needed?

Randolph Nesse is the director of the Human Evolution and Adaptation Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He said Sherman's research is a fine example of how behavioral traits are shaped by both natural and cultural selection.

Red-Hot Proof

To prove his hypothesis about the climate-dependent evolution of spicy foods, Sherman and his colleagues compared recipes for more than 4,000 meat dishes and 1,000 vegetarian dishes among 36 countries.

As predicted, countries with the warmest climate have the spiciest food. Meat dishes in particular are always the spiciest because a piece of meat lacks defenses against pathogens and parasites. Plants by contrast are where the antimicrobials originate.

"The plants have a recipe for survival," he said. "We are just borrowing the plants' recipes for use in our own recipes."

In all countries studied, spice use was greater overall in dishes from warmer regions.

The University of Michigan's Nesse said it's possible that cultural differences in spice preference are reflected in people's genes, a hypothesis that could be tested in by studying twins raised in separate cultures.

Darwinian Medicine

Sherman's spicy research is part of the emerging field of Darwinian medicine, an approach to understanding the "why" behind bodily functions, ailments, and diseases that complements traditional medicine.

"If you are going to fix something, it's important to know what it's designed to do in the first place," Sherman said.

For example, he said fever is an evolved defense deployed to fight unwanted bacteria in the body. Increased body temperature makes it harder for parasites and pathogens to reproduce and kicks the host's immune system into overdrive.

This is useful knowledge when treating a mild fever, Sherman said. Instead of prescribing medicine to reduce the fever, it may be in the patient's best interest for the doctor to prescribe medicine that works with the fever to combat the parasites and pathogens.

According to Nesse, Darwinian medicine is not "alternative" medicine, nor does it recommend treatment. Rather, he said, "it is simply using evolutionary biology as a crucial tool in mainstream medicine," including nutrition.

"In general the human tendency is to eat exactly what's going to kill us," such as fatty, salty, and sweet foods, "because those were in short supply in our evolutionary history," he said. "So we are determined to eat fats, salts, and sweets."

In future research, Sherman plans to examine how spice use changes with altitude. He predicts that spices will be used less in higher, drier climates than in lower, warmer, wetter places where food-borne bacteria present more culinary problems.

He is also studying whether certain spices fight pathogens and parasites on some foods better than others.

"For example, if I said, Let's have salmon and use lemon and pepper on it, you'd say, OK. But if I said, Let's smother it with ketchup and oregano and vinegar you'd say, What?

"The question is, Why are specific spices associated with particular dishes?"

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#2 Postby Aaron » Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:35 pm

Interesting. I just started getting a cough too. Ty :)

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#3 Postby CollegeB » Wed Nov 16, 2005 2:42 pm

Get Topher to tell you about the holy trinity roots. Good stuff. Nat can help you out too. Take lots of vit. C. Garlic...there are some others I think ginger. You'll be well in no time.

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#4 Postby veggymeggy » Wed Nov 16, 2005 3:38 pm

I've heard hypothesis of this nature before, interesting.
I myself have never lived in a 'warm climate' exactly, but my food can never be hot enough. Seriously. I put hot sauce on everything. When I go to Thai restaurants the waiters give me funny looks because I'm this young not-thai girl asking for their hottest stuff and they don't think I can handle it - but I'm no sissy :P
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telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.

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#5 Postby CollegeB » Wed Nov 16, 2005 6:05 pm

I recommend a product called dave's insanity sauce. It burned for days!

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#6 Postby Michelle » Wed Nov 16, 2005 6:18 pm

I wonder if this is why I start craving spicy chinese food when I'm feeling run-down and susceptible to illness?

Cool article, thanks for sharing.

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#7 Postby willpeavy » Wed Nov 16, 2005 7:49 pm

Good article, it makes sense. I live in a hot climate and I like spicy food
[url=http://willpeavy.net/:34olz5pn]willpeavy.net[/url:34olz5pn]

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#8 Postby chesty leroux » Wed Nov 16, 2005 8:22 pm

I had a crazy idea to make my pwn brand of extra hot salsa at one point.
I wanted to call it "Ashley's hot stuff" with the tag "Burns your mouth going in, burns your @$$hole coming out". But thats just my warped sense of humour. I still like to eat spicy stuff, but alot of the time i like to eat mild food. I really like the snyders and hanover jalapeno pretzel pieces. Theyre vegan...or were last time i checked i havent eaten them in forever. And no one else in my house will eat them cause theyre so damn hot.
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#9 Postby robert » Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:14 am

Hey Ash,

I wanted to call it "Ashley's hot stuff" with the tag "Burns your mouth going in, burns your @$$hole coming out".


I just laughed out loud at the University Library....thanks :lol:

That is totally funny and I appreciate you using the symbols too. That's my internet girlfriend!

-Rob

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#10 Postby CollegeB » Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:16 am

Ash I like your hot sauce idea, I'd buy it just to have around and put on food now and then if only for stunts. Also those jalepeno preztels are so good. I ate half a bag one time and felt pretty ill, but I got better and ate more! I should get another bag of thsoe. MMM burning! :P :D

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#11 Postby chesty leroux » Thu Nov 17, 2005 2:05 pm

Hehe thanks guys, you started my day with a smile :D Maybe someday I'll really market it. And you two can have complementary bottles of course. 8) On the condition that you send a picture if the face you make upon the first taste. :evil:

CollegeB I know the feeling of eating too many of those pretzels...but man are they good....

must... :shock:

go... :shock:

to... :shock:

store... :shock:
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#12 Postby Hero » Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:50 am

"Trinity Roots:
Garlic, ginger and onion are called the Trinity roots. Garlic is warming, strengthening, antiviral and reduces toxins. Ginger soothes the nerves, fights flu and colds, relieves nausea, is a potent digestive stimulant and helps relieve menstrual cramps. Onions purify the blood, balance the blood sugar and are antibacterial. When cooked together, the trinity roots "

its really good if you mix all 3 into a soup

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#13 Postby Aaron » Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:09 am

Nice! Ty topher and CB.

Daniel

#14 Postby Daniel » Fri Nov 18, 2005 9:04 pm

Hero wrote:"Trinity Roots:
Garlic, ginger and onion are called the Trinity roots. Garlic is warming, strengthening, antiviral and reduces toxins. Ginger soothes the nerves, fights flu and colds, relieves nausea, is a potent digestive stimulant and helps relieve menstrual cramps. Onions purify the blood, balance the blood sugar and are antibacterial. When cooked together, the trinity roots "

its really good if you mix all 3 into a soup


Cool, I'm making a diner with garlic and ginger tomorrow night, and I don't think it would hurt to add a little onion into the mix.

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#15 Postby CollegeB » Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:13 pm

chesty leroux wrote: you two can have complementary bottles of course. 8) On the condition that you send a picture if the face you make upon the first taste. :evil:


You are on, send me some hot sauce, when you get a chance.


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