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Pepper X has entered the Guinness World Records as the new hottest pepper in the world.

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Researchers have been trying for years to unravel the mystery of why many people have a fondness for spicy food despite the unpleasant sensations it can cause, as reported by CBS.

Ed Currie, a pepper expert who crossbred and cultivated Pepper X, broke the record for the hottest pepper on Earth ten years ago when he introduced the Carolina Reaper. Currie developed Pepper X several years ago but did not release it immediately.

He mentioned that he kept Pepper X in reserve in case someone else released something hotter than the Carolina Reaper. When no competitors emerged, he decided to release Pepper X.

How Currie Created Pepper X: Currie began growing hot peppers as a hobby and eventually transitioned to growing them full-time. According to his website, Puckerbutt Pepper Company, in the 1990s, he grew 800 hot pepper plants "on every inch of his home, as well as in the homes of family, friends, and neighbors."

According to the Guinness World Records, Currie cultivated Pepper X on his farm for over ten years. He crossbred it with some of his hottest peppers to increase the capsaicin content. Part of the development process also involved protecting Pepper X, as Currie mentioned that people had been trying to steal it for years.

What Are Scoville Heat Units: The spiciness of a pepper is determined by how much capsaicin it contains, and this spiciness is measured using a scale called the Scoville scale. Pharmacologist Wilbur Scoville invented this special scale in 1912. It measures how much water is needed to dilute the pepper before its spiciness becomes imperceptible.

Pepper X has been tested by Winthrop University in South Carolina and has an average rating of 2,693,000 Scoville Heat Units. For comparison, the Carolina Reaper averages around 1.64 million Scoville Heat Units, and jalapeños range from 3,000 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units. Habaneros typically exceed 100,000 Scoville Heat Units.

According to a press release, Pepper X is considered a patented pepper, so its pods and seeds will not be sold. The only way to taste it right now is through Pepper X hot sauces.

Lovers of Spicy Food: People around the world have varying levels of tolerance for spicy food; some enjoy the burning sensation it brings, while others cannot tolerate it. Interestingly, scientists also have mixed opinions on why people are drawn to such spicy dishes and how consuming hot peppers affects the human body, as reported by "Focus."

It's worth noting that humans are the only known species on Earth that consciously consumes spicy food despite the often uncomfortable sensations it can bring, such as burning lips, mouth, and sometimes even in the stomach.

Epidemiologist Paul Terry from the University of Tennessee has focused on studying how spicy food can impact human health and potentially exacerbate symptoms related to chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Additionally, he examines how a spicy diet may affect a person's lifespan.

Researchers already know that capsaicin has a spicy taste because it activates certain biological pathways in mammals, particularly those activated at high temperatures. The pain caused by spicy food can trigger the release of endorphins and dopamine, which can lead to a sense of relief and sometimes even euphoria. Terry suggests that this might explain why so many people prefer to consume spicy food.

Consequences of Consumption: Previous research has shown that short-term effects of extremely spicy food can range from a pleasant warming sensation to uncomfortable burning sensations on the lips, tongue, and in the mouth. Additionally, it can lead to various forms of gastrointestinal discomfort, and sometimes even vomiting or headaches.

Terry notes that the consumption of spicy food can cause symptoms such as:

  • Migraines
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

In such cases, scientists recommend refraining from consuming spicy food. On the other hand, for many people around the world, consuming spicy food is part of their long-term lifestyle, influenced significantly by geography and culture. Some studies have also found that spicy food can help control foodborne illnesses.

At the same time, epidemiologists and dietitians have been trying for decades to understand the potential risks and benefits of long-term spicy food consumption for conditions such as:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Acid reflux
  • Ulcers
  • Psychological health
  • Pain sensitivity
  • All-cause mortality

Unfortunately, research results are mixed. For example, findings indicate that spicy food does not cause stomach ulcers, but the relationship with stomach cancer is less clear. Large studies also show that consuming spicy food does not increase the risk of all-cause mortality and may even reduce this risk.

However, Terry emphasizes that a person's diet is part of a broader set of lifestyle factors, including physical activity, body mass index, tobacco and alcohol consumption, which also influence our health.

Terry notes that there are still many mysteries surrounding the consumption of spicy food. Firstly, scientists still do not understand why some people enjoy spicy food while others do not. Secondly, it remains unclear how consuming hot peppers affects our biological and psychological health.

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