A Mexican Recipe For Health And Happiness

Chilis are super tasty and healthy. And they also hack your brain chemistry to induce a sense of happiness and wellbeing.

A friend of ours in Mexico City named Fernando Dávila is an expert in chilis, which of course originated in Mexico and permeates the food of that delicious country.

His theory is that the reason Mexican people are happy and friendly is that they eat chilis every day, usually several times a day.

Wait, what?

This theory is based on two claims:

1. Chilis make you happy

2. Mexicans eat huge quantities of chilis

Are these claims true?

Chilis are spicy. This chemical burning sensation in the mouth is caused by capsaicin, found in tiny glands in the chilli's "placenta" — that white spongy stuff surrounding the chili's seeds. There's no actual burning. Capsaicin tricks the burn-detection hardware in the mouth into believing that burning is going on. But it’s perfectly harmless.

Capsaicin receptors in the mouth (quantity and sensitivity of which is partly genetic) determines how "hot" chilis feel.

The pain of this capsaicin "heat" causes the the production of a neurotransmitter called substance P, which tells the brain that the mouth is experiencing pain from burning. The brain responds with neurotransmitters designed to reduce the pain, including endorphins, specifically dopamine, which makes you feel good and gives you an overall sense of wellbeing.

So, yes, chilis make you happy.

(As a bonus, chilis are high in vitamin C (double what you find in citrus fruits), vitamin A, and b-carotene. They have antibacterial qualities, and contain bioflavonoids and antioxidants.)

There's literally no downside to eating chilis, and everything about them contributes to health and happiness.

Botanically, chilis originated in South American jungles. Spread through the Americas by both birds and humans, they made their way to Mexico, where ancient Mexicans began to domesticate and cultivate them, and, in the process, integrate them into their food culture. After the Spanish colonized what we now call “Latin America,” the seafaring colonizers spread chilis worldwide. Today, the chilis that make Thai food, Korean food, Indian food and other spicy foods “hot,” all originate in Mexico. All the chilis used in all cuisines throughout the world are Mexican chilis.

Chilis are a Mexican ingredient. But do Mexicans really eat more chilis than others?

Again, the answer is: yes. Mexicans eat way more chilis than anybody else.

The average Mexican eats up to nine kilograms of chiles a year — far more than the average citizen of any other country.

So it looks like our friend Fernando is really onto something. Mexicans eat chilis for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mexico is a happy nation high on dopamine.

As a bonus, chilis may help you live longer, too.

So pack your diet with chilis. And make yourself happy the Mexican way.

Wishing you a deliciously healthy and joyful life!

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Recipe: Spartan Fermented Spicy Garlic Chili Oil

My Spartan Fermented Spicy Garlic Chili Oil is something my family cannot eat without — or maybe even live without! It’s going to transform your meals into something quite stimulating to not only your body but also to all your senses. It’s crazy delicious and nutritious!

All the basic ingredients in the recipe — cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, chili flakes, turmeric, oregano and sauerkraut juice — are superfoods that are incredibly healing and nourishing: Mixed together into this condiment, it becomes what you might call a super duper food! So much so that it’s actually a medicine.

Get the Recipe!