Does Spicy Food Kill Bacteria: The Question That Everyone Ask While Tasting A Hot Dish

If I ask you this question, what makes you happy, what will you answer? Some may answer shopping, some traveling, or some may answer football. But, if you ask me this question, I have my answer ready in a second. Food!!! 

Food makes me happy all the time. When I am gloomy, I need sweet; when I am jumpy, I need sour. But there is one food that makes me happy no matter what my mood is. The hot and fiery spicy food. Not that I love to eat spicy food only, I love to cook them too. The perfect balance of spices, vibrant taste, and aroma make me lost in the world of flavor.

One day, while cooking and tasting one of my favorite hot and spicy dishes, a bundle of questions emerged into my mind. Is spicy food beneficial for our health? Is it helping us or damaging us? Does spicy food kill bacteria? So many questions were colliding in my mind. I ate and kept thinking.

Now, if the same questions are also in your mind, why don’t you join me. Together, in this article, let’s explore how spicy food is affecting us.

Does spicy food kill bacteria
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Spices That Make Food Spicy

Have you ever thought, what spices make the food spicy? More precisely, what are the elements that make food spicy? Capsaicin, piperine, gingerol, and allicin are the four elements of chemical compounds responsible for the fiery heat on the tongue.

Now you must be thinking about which spices contain these elements. Let’s find out.

Capsaicin is an organic compound produced by the seeds in plants of the genus Capsicum. It is the active ingredient that gives spicy food its fiery heat. It is mainly found in pepper and chilies. Oregano, cinnamon, and cilantro also contain capsaicin, though in minuscule amounts.

Allicin and gingerol are the other two compounds imputing a burning sensation on your tongue. Onion and garlic are two ingredients containing allicin. On the other hand, ginger has the burning compound gingerol. Piperine is mainly found in black pepper and long pepper.

When we use ingredients containing these compounds, our food becomes spicy. Some spices will add only spicy flavor: the smell, whereas a few add the fiery spicy taste of burning sensation on your tongue. Though your tongue is on fire, no physical damage is genuinely there. It is just as before: intact, safe, and sound. Cool, isn’t it? 

Why Does Your Mouth Burn?

Few of the spices, especially those containing capsaicin, are the reason for the fiery heat in spicy food. But don’t consider it as disadvantages of spicy food.

Our tongue is the home to the millions of microscopic receptors that make our sense of taste achievable. Along with the five tastes: bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and umami, our tongue comprises thousands of pain receptors, called VR1 receptors. Now, they are the main targets of capsaicin. So, the question is, how does capsaicin work?

Capsaicin molecules in your food come in touch and bind to the pain receptors on your tongue. It results in a burning sensation signaled by the brain. Just imagine what happens when you get your hand too close to a fire. It burns! The same goes for your tongue, which is burning now.

The only difference between your hand on fire and your tongue on spicy-food fire is your tongue doesn’t burn literally. It is just a sensation that evaporates after some moments. What is left is your dripping nose, sweaty palms, and burning adventure.

Benefits of Spicy Food

Spicy food is not everybody’s cup of tea, or I should say, a plate of food. But, if you like your lunch with a bit of kick, you’re in luck because spicy food offers numerous health benefits.

Consuming spicy food regularly can boost your metabolism by increasing your heart rate and warming the body. However, few spices have antioxidant properties. It protects the cells of the body from damage by harmful free radical toxins. Now, does spicy food kill bacteria is a different issue that I will disclose pretty soon. 

If you ask me if spicy food kills bacteria? Yes, few do. Few spices contain antimicrobial properties which protect us from bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. They also enhance the ability to boost the immune system. In addition, spices containing gingerol and allicin are mighty cold and flu fighters.

Spices have anti-inflammatory properties. They help reduce or prevent inflammation in the gut, preventing damage to the GI tract like ulcers. They also reduce common symptoms of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. 

Research suggests that spices have anti-cancer properties. In one study, capsaicin has shown to have the ability to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells. It also takes action against Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer. On the other hand, piperine research shows assuring results on prostate cancer. 

Some studies on gingerol propose that it may efficiently inhibit pancreatic, ovarian, and prostate cancer. Furthermore, allicin is found particularly effective against cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. 

Now, those who are not hot and fiery food lovers can consider adding spices in life. They are highly healthy.

Does Spicy Food Kill Bacteria?

The secret of happiness is variety; the mystery of food is spice. And for me, food is happiness. So, I spice my dish and bring a smile. Along with the taste and flavor, spices offer numerous health benefits. Now, the question is, can spicy food kill bacteria?

Researchers have discovered that spices kill bacteria while studying ‘how to control pathogens in food.’ Several studies indicated that common and popular spices, such as garlic, clove, and cinnamon, may be effective against certain strains of E. coli bacteria. 

Spices like garlic, onion, and oregano are discovered to be the best all-around bacteria-killers by researchers. Likewise, thyme, cinnamon, tarragon, and cumin may kill up to 80 percent of bacteria. On the other hand, capsicums, including cayenne, chilies, and other hot peppers, are in the middle of the antimicrobial pack. In contrast, pepper of the white or black variety restrains 25 percent of bacteria, ginger, anise seed, and celery seed.

However, more research needs to be done to ensure if spicy food kills bacteria. Nevertheless, no one can deny the health benefits of spices are noteworthy. 

Here is a list of few antibacterial spices that are favorites to all spice lovers with their power and performance. 


Garlic: the all-rounder. It is a strong-smelling antibacterial spice herb regarded for its many health benefits.  A report in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Research advised that one clove per day may induce a vast improvement in your overall health, while two to three cloves daily could help keep the common cold at the crack.

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Allicin, the compound of garlic, helps to lower cholesterol. In addition, It eases the symptoms of the common cold, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of heart diseases. It also reduces the risk of neurodegenerative disorders. 

This single spice herb contains antiviral, antifungal, and antibiotic properties. So, you can say goodbye to heart disease, kidney disease, and many infections. Instead, welcome strong immunity, healthy bones, and vigorous metabolism.


Can cinnamon kill bacteria? Yes, it can. 

Researchers at Kansas State University discovered that compounds in cinnamon kill Escherichia coli. Scientists experimented with apple juice tainted with approximately one million E.coli, adding a tablespoon of cinnamon. They left the mixture for three days. After three days, when the scientists checked the juice, do you know what they found? The researchers discovered that 99.5 percent of the bacteria had been destroyed in the liquid by cinnamon.  

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Now, that is a discovery!!!

Studies also show that compounds in cinnamon oil had an anti-bacterial fight against 

Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It is a potentially life-threatening, drug-resistant bacteria harmful to plants, people, and other animals.

In addition to this, the antibacterial and antifungal properties found in cinnamon oil are also effective against Streptococcus mutants. Streptococcus is the primary agent which causes oral infections and cavities in teeth.

This old-aged spice has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any spice, which effectively controls blood pressure, relieves pain, develops memory, and many more. 

So, try adding little cinnamon in your food: cooked dishes, smoothies, yogurt, healthy baking recipes, oatmeal, tea, or coffee, and live healthily.


Whenever I am sick with a cold or having any fungal symptoms, I always grab oregano oil and make use of it. Yes, you heard me correct. Oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of most fresh herbs and spices that reduce several parasite growths. 

The study shows that oregano is a potent anti-fungal and a strong defense against Candida Albicans. Candida albicans is a common strain of yeast that can cause multiple types of infections. It can affect the mouth, genitals, and all areas of the skin. So, if you got candida, just take a handful of oregano.

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Now, does oregano mixed food, aka, does spicy food kill bacteria?  A substance called Carvacrol is found in many spices and herbs. However, it has an immense density in oregano. The study shows that carvacrol is a powerful antibacterial against numerous strains of bacteria. It can destroy the cell membranes of bacteria and even stop them from multiplying.

Do you know what the fantastic factor about oregano is? We know that oregano is perceived to destroy harmful bacteria. However, during its destruction, it doesn’t attack the helpful ones in the gut. Instead, it keeps beneficial probiotic bacteria intact.


It’s the time for fire. Yes, now the hot and fiery cayenne. This hot spice not only heats your food but also heats your body. It raises your metabolism, helps burn fat, and reduces the risk of heart diseases.

This long, thin, bright red Capsicum annum, aka cayenne pepper, is a member of the Solanaceae family. It’s related to other capsicums, including sweet bell peppers, jalapeños, poblanos, serranos, and spectacularly spicy ghost peppers. Though it is not as notoriously fiery as ghost pepper, the cayenne pepper still packs quite a punch.

Cayenne as a spice, does spicy food kill bacteria
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Cayenne is an effective anti-inflammatory and pain remedy for everything from headaches to arthritis and sore muscles. It also helps to clear nasal congestion and boost immunity.

People who avoid flaming cayenne thinking it will bother your stomach are doing the opposite. Instead, it effectively heals stomach tissues, stimulates digestive enzymes, and helps prevent stomach ulcers.

Interestingly, research showed that a person customarily consuming food with red pepper eats 15% less food. Therefore, cayenne may reduce your hunger, and you feel fooler for a long time — great news for anyone desperately fighting fats.

Some studies also show that it can slow the growth of cancer cells. It may even kill cancer cells for certain types of cancer, including prostate, skin, and pancreatic.

Try cayenne pepper in your dishes: morning eggs, soups, stews, curry, meatloaf – a bit of little metabolism-boosting spice.


Turmeric, a close relative of ginger, is common in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern cooking. This vivid yellow-orange spice has been used as medicine in places like India for centuries. 

Turmeric has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties that fight off several infections. This antibacterial and antiviral agent can also work against respiratory system infections and block MDR-1, a gene responsible for resistance to multiple antimicrobial drugs.

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Curcumin, the active ingredient in this super spice, is a strong scavenger of oxygen-free radicals. So, turmeric plays a prominent part in preventing and controlling heart disease. In addition, turmeric has also been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in people at risk of heart disease and may improve blood pressure.

Numerous studies have shown that turmeric can affect cancer formation, growth, and development at a molecular level. As a result, it can decrease the spread of cancer and contribute to the destruction of cancerous cells in various cancers. It can also reduce the adverse side effects of chemotherapy.

If you ask me, ‘does spicy food kill bacteria in mouth’ my answer will be yes, at least turmeric surely does. 


Clove, powerful natural medicine for centuries, has a unique sweet and spicy flavor. Adding clove as a spice in your daily dishes or adding it as a seasoning can increase the food’s immune-boosting power. In addition, it increases the white blood cell count that improves delayed-type hypersensitivity.

Cloves have been regarded as having the highest antioxidant level (ORAC value) of all spices and herbs. In addition, they have vital antiseptic and germicidal components that support fight infections, reduce digestive problems and arthritis pain. One of the best-discovered uses of cloves is its ability to relieve tooth and gum pain.

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Cloves help digestive problems like gas, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting and eliminate harmful parasites, bacteria, and fungus in the digestive system. And the smell of cloves helps to encourage mental creativity too. 

The antibacterial properties of clove may help decrease oral bacteria leading to gingivitis and cavities.

Check These Top 20 Immunity Booster Already There In Your Home


Ginger: a strong super-spice for your health. Ginger comprises above 25 different antioxidants. As a result, it is remarkably effective at fighting free radicals in several body systems.

Several chemical composites in fresh ginger help your body ward off germs. They are exceptionally good at halting the growth of bacteria like E.coli and shigella. They may also keep viruses like RSV at bay.

A smile can change the world. Ginger’s antibacterial power can also brighten your world-changing smile. The active compounds in ginger called gingerols keep oral bacteria from growing and reducing gum infection.

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Ginger is a soothing solution for sore throats from colds and flu because of its antiviral properties. In addition, it helps coughs and is an effective expectorant. Whenever I am under the weather, I usually take hot tea simmered with a few slices of ginger, a tablespoon of honey, and lemon. The relief I get from cough and cold is phenomenal. 

Several studies show that the bioactive molecules in ginger may slow down the growth of some cancers like colorectal, gastric, ovarian, liver, skin, breast, and prostate cancer. However, much more research is needed to determine this fact.

Spicy Food and Roasting Risk

Spicy food offers numerous health benefits, yes, but not for everyone. People with specific gastrointestinal issues, like gastroesophageal reflux disease, should avoid spicy food as it can trigger their symptoms.

Thus when you are inquiring ‘does spicy food kill bacteria in throat,’ the answer is yes. Unfortunately, however, it can trigger some swallowing and digestive issues.  

Excess of anything is harmful. In terms of spicy food, excess consumption of hot fiery spicy food can result in abdominal pain and diarrhea. If you’re new to spicy food cuisine, build your tolerance first. Then, intake spicy food slowly and cautiously to minimize any unwanted symptoms. 

Are There Any Good Bacteria in Your Guts?

When we hear the word “bacteria,” a creepy image of some microscopic germs comes into our mind that love to harm us. However, not all bacterias are harmful. In our body, there lives “Good Bacteria” and “Bad Bacteria.” Have you heard of Probiotics? Let me introduce you to the Good Bacteria “Probiotics” that live in your intestines and contribute to a healthy gut.

These bacterias provide us with necessary nutrients and help us in preserving the body from infections.  It is significantly assumed that the bacteria in your gut can affect your metabolism, hormonal levels, and mood. 

Without good bacterias in your gut, you would be unable to digest your food, synthesize several necessary vitamins, absorb water, and control the harmful bacteria that often try to attack your gut. Honestly speaking, without the billions of good bacterial cells in your body, you wouldn’t be alive today.

Studies show that several spices, such as black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, rosemary, and turmeric, have powerful antioxidant effects and possible probiotic effects. So, keep your gut good with spice.

Spicy Food vs Flu Bacteria

Does spicy food kill bacteria that cause flu? 

Well, those foods don’t cure or kill the flu bacteria. However, if you’re sick, eating them may help alleviate some of your symptoms, give you comfort, and support you in fighting your flu.

Spicy foods, especially chili and other hot peppers, have a chemical component known as capsaicin. It helps you fight flu-causing germs. This compound may make your eyes and nose run but eventually help you break up congestion so you can breathe better. It also improves the flow of blood and metabolism.

In addition, spicy food also reduces the symptoms of colds and flu by opening up nasal passages and dealing with the associated discomfort.

Spicy Food And Your Teeth

Spicy food is everywhere, from Italy to India. So, there is no chance you can avoid spicy food. And it is always sensational to add spice to your dish to increase the spice of life. However, does spicy food affect your teeth? Is too much spice harmful to your teeth?

The answer is “No.” Spicy food does not damage your teeth in general. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful when you entertain yourself with spicy cuisine.

Usually, tooth decay starts with bacteria and worsens when you feed that bacteria a steady processed sugar diet. But onions, an ingredient in spicy foods, fight the bacteria that harm your mouth. Additionally, chili powder is known for protecting your bones and your teeth, which has many vitamin A. It also helps with your gums’ mucus and tissue health and lessens inflammation from infection.

However, be cautious while eating spicy food like turmeric. It can cause severe yellowish stains on your teeth if you eat it often.

Spice Up Your Brain

Spicy food has a beneficial effect on the gut, teeth, and bone. But does it affect your brain too?

Surprisingly, spicy food is highly beneficial to your brain. Some spicy foods like turmeric have components that help reduce Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, some spices help reduce stress and, to some extent, improve your memory functions.

One study shows that spicy foods are somehow linked to happiness. Eating hot pepper can make you happier by simply initiating your brain to produce happy hormones such as Serotonin.

Therefore, eat spicy food, and be happy.


Is spicy food bad for gut bacteria?

Research shows that spicy food containing garlic, clove, and cinnamon, can kill and reduce the growth of the harmful bacteria E.coli in your gut. They also benefit the development of probiotics, the good bacteria. in your intestines.

However, if you overeat spicy food, it might cause you abdominal pain and diarrhea. So, spice tolerance is needed first. And you can always ask your doctor ‘does spicy food kill stomach bacteria’ before adding new spices to your meal.

Does chili kill viruses?

Chili pepper does not kill viruses that cause your flu or other diseases. But, if you are suffering from a high fever, hot chili peppers can relieve the pain. It can also stimulate the immune system to fight off the virus.

Research also shows that the components in chilies may kill or inhibit 75% of pathogens of your food that may make you sick.

Moreover, chili pepper is rich in beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A and vitamin C. So, chili pepper can maintain your healthy respiratory, intestinal, and urinary system.

Will spicy food kill parasites?

Parasites purge into fresh food left outside in hotter climates and win their way into people’s stomachs. Research shows that a spicy meal provided people with protection from lingering parasites in hot and humid weather.

Red hot chili pepper is potent against parasites. However, capsaicin, the main compound of chili, may not cure the human body of an infectious parasite; it can create a hostile environment for parasites to make you gut their happy home.

Is spicy food bad for your liver?

Spicy food is a liver-lover. Research shows that consuming spicy food daily, especially food that contains pepper benefits your liver immensely. Capsaicin, the active component of peppers, has a good effect on preventing and progressing liver damage. 

So if you still concerned is spicy food bad for you, let me assure you they are not.

Is it healthy to eat spicy food every day?

Spicy food is the key to your long life. People who eat spicy food every day are solid and sound compared to less-spice eaters.

Spicy food keeps your heart healthy, develops your metabolism, and makes your immune system strong to fight infections. Recent research also shows that eating spicy food lowers death rates due to heart disease and stroke by 13%. 

So, spice up your life and live long.


Spice is life. And life is all about testing your limits. With spicy food, the good thing about ‘testing the limit’ is, it comes with boundless beneficial bags- antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. 

Does spicy food kill bacteria? Yes, it does. Some spices contain several components that fight bacteria and reduce their growth. Moreover, your body becomes strong to combat inflammation, improve heart health, and fight cancer.

If you are not into spicy food, start with less spicy foods and gradually go up. Trust me; you will be amazed to see the fantastic health benefits of spicy food.

I am Rubab Sikandar, and I have done MPhil in food and nutrition. I am a professional dietician and content writer. I always try to deliver the best content to the readers. It's my passion to write on medical, health and fitness. Sharing is caring so; I always share what I learned in my academic career.

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