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The Key to a Long Life: Spicy Foods?

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Bring on the chillies, the hot salsas, and the spicy curries. A new study of the diets of 490,000 Chinese people over the course of seven years finds that spicy food consumption is linked to longer lives. The study, published in the BMJ, finds that habitual consumption of spicy foods was inversely associated with total and certain cause specific mortality (cancer, ischemic heart diseases, and respiratory diseases).”

The international team of authors surveyed individuals between 30 and 79 years old living throughout China, asking them how often they ate spicy foods and what kind of spices they ate. They found that independent of other risk factors, eating spicy foods six or seven days a week was associated with a 14 percent lower risk of mortality than eating spicy foods only once a week. The effect seemed to be stronger for those people who ate fresh chili versus dried, as well as for people who did not drink alcohol.

The researchers caution against reading too much into the relationship between spice and health. This study did not establish that eating spicy foods was the cause of the lower mortality rate, and it’s possible that it was due to some other diet or lifestyle factor associated with the type of people in China who happen to eat more spicy foods.

It’s too soon to start shoving your face full of hot peppers in search of the fountain of youth, but previous research has also indicated that capsaicin, the spicy compound in peppers, might have some beneficial properties as an anti-inflammatory and an anti-carcinogenic agent. And replacing your beer with a spicy bowl of vegetables probably isn’t a bad idea, health-wise.

[h/t: The Guardian]

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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