A dash of 'chili peppers' may help you win battle of the bulge

There may be a spicy way to keep your body in shape, as scientists have found that adding capsaicin from chili peppers to a diet may just help to prevent weight gain.

ANI| Updated: Feb 09, 2015, 12:08 PM IST

Washington: There may be a spicy way to keep your body in shape, as scientists have found that adding capsaicin from chili peppers to a diet may just help to prevent weight gain.

Researchers at the University of Wyoming conducted a study on mice, keeping them on high-fat diet found promise in the potential of capsaicin as a diet-based supplement.

The researchers from the laboratory of Dr. Baskaran Thyagarajan will soon describe how dietary capsaicin may stimulate thermogenesis and energy burning by activating its receptors, which are expressed in white and brown fat cells. This may help to prevent and manage obesity and other related health complications such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases-though this effect has not yet been demonstrated in carefully-controlled clinical trials.

Vivek Krishnan, a graduate student working in Thyagarajan's laboratory at the University, a research group known as 'Baskilab', explained that obesity is caused by an imbalance between calorie intake and energy dissipation. In our bodies, white fat cells store energy and brown fat cells serve as thermogenic (heat produced by burning fat) machinery to burn stored fat. Eating calorie-rich food and a lack of physical activity cause an imbalance in metabolism that leads to obesity.

While pursuing a strategy for obesity management, the group's laboratory data revealed that dietary capsaicin, a chief 'agonist' of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channel protein, suppresses high-fat-diet-induced obesity.

High-fat-diet obesity and dietary capsaicin -- 0.01 percent of capsaicin in the total high fat diet-prevented high-fat-diet-induced weight gain in trials with wild type mice, but not in mice that genetically lacked TRPV1.

Developing a natural dietary supplement as a strategy to combat obesity can be easily advanced to human clinical trials, according to the researchers.

The group's strategy to counteract obesity is expected to form a major focus of future healthcare priorities for both the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense.