Peppers in Diet Linked to Lower Risk of Death

Eating spicy food frequently is linked to a lower risk of death in a Chinese study, adding heat to the debate on whether people should eat chilies for health benefits.

The study involved 487,375 people aged 30 to 79 across China. Half were followed for 7.2 years. Over the study period, there were 20,224 deaths.

Those who said they ate spicy food once or twice a week showed a 10 per cent reduced overall risk of dying, compared with people who ate spicy foods less often.

…In the study, the association was stronger among people who didn’t drink alcohol.

Source: Chili peppers in diet linked to lower risk of death

The article doesn’t mention that peppers are generally a source of calcium (though not much good without vitamin D to process it if you aren’t going outside), and vitamin C, folate, and iron. No vitamin K to speak of.  What makes up the rest of the diet is also important, but the article is extremely vague (or potentially misleading) as chili peppers are a particular type vs habanero, jalapeno, bell…

Eat healthy, exercise regularly, die anyways 😉

Psychology: Why does guilt increase pleasure?

I’m not just being contrary; I’m taking a cue from experts. We may have more than enough worries that are out of our control, anyway, without feeling bad about the things we should enjoy. But what’s more, psychologists have found that those guilty feelings about our diet or lifestyle don’t appear to help us live a healthier life. Rather than leading us away from temptation, guilt often drives us straight to our vices.

… forgiving a bit of down-time, or the odd treat, should mean that I can recover a healthier outlook more quickly – and I should then be able to muster up the willpower to go to the gym the next day. That kind of attitude is often not emphasised enough, says Goldsmith.

Source: Psychology: Why does guilt increase pleasure?

There you have it – cheat day is real.  Also – sharing dessert reduces guilt

Math, Not Lifestyle or Genetics: Why You Might Get Cancer

Eat healthy, exercise regularly, die anyways.

Why? That’s the first word on many lips after a cancer diagnosis. “It’s a perfectly reasonable question,” says Bert Vogelstein, a cancer geneticist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, who has spent a lifetime trying to answer it. Thanks to his friendship with a recently minted Ph.D. in applied mathematics, the two now propose a framework arguing that most cancer cases are the result of biological bad luck.

In a paper this week in Science, Vogelstein and Cristian Tomasetti, who joined the biostatistics department at Hopkins in 2013, put forth a mathematical formula to explain the genesis of cancer.

…The idea emerged during one of the pair’s weekly brainstorming sessions in Vogelstein’s office. They returned to an age-old question: How much of cancer is driven by environmental factors, and how much by genetics? To solve that, Tomasetti reasoned, “I first need to understand how much is by chance and take that out of the picture.”


There is a difference between cancer initiation and cancer promotion. Many environmental factors favor existing tumors but do not create them. Hence initiation can be random, while promotion can be environment-induced.

Meal Planning: Portion Control/Cutting

In an age of bulk food and value meals, limit your intake with a little preparation.  Rather than eat directly from the box/container, dole the contents into smaller containers.  In addition to calorie control, it can make grabbing food on the fly easier.

Despite what you read on the covers of magazines, there are no special workouts.  To loose weight means reducing your caloric intake.  “But that’s starving yourself” is often the response.  We accumulate fat by consuming more calories than we need, so no – you are overeating in the first place.  And all your exercise won’t work if you are “eating it back” – justifying foods and quantity “because you’ll work it off”.  Body builders call it “cutting” when you are working towards a weight and/or body fat percentage goal – a daily limit of around 1,500 calories.  It’s to make a calorie deficit, so you’re eating less than what you use throughout the day.

Obligatory warning here about going beneath 1,500 calories can have health consequences, and a long term “cutting” diet might be anorexia/bulimia.

There are studies to support that exercise makes us happy.  “Runners high” is a well known term for the euphoria that can come with running – lots of reformed addicts become long distance runners.  Most of the studies I’ve seen to support the chemical reaction aspect, but I think they miss that exercise means goals and social interaction.  Joining a club (running, cycling, etc) can be very social and humans by nature are gregarious.  This motivates us to continue exercising, and can lead to a better lifestyle.

There’s various ways to implement cutting.  I was very scientific at the start: I picked one aspect and focused on it for a period of time.  Progress was slow, but I knew what was responsible for the results.  The other benefit was that with enough time, the change became normal to me so my lifestyle evolved.  I came to see that I was eating because I was bored, and choosing food that was easy (little to no preparation) to make satisfying the boredom easier.

Looking to make a change?  Try the local marathon or triathlon groups.  Triathlon is nice because of the crosstraining/variety.  My next marathon is Netflix.  Joking aside, marathon training is social and decent amount of time to chat with people and make friends.  Both marathon and triathlon are largely comprised of women.