Is There a Risk to Eating Takis? Why Some Kids End up in the Emergency Room From Snacking

Eva Hagan - Author

Jan. 26 2024, Published 1:14 p.m. ET

Takis are a spicy rolled tortilla chip snack, distinguishable by their bright red chip dusting that will dye your fingertips while eating. These tasty treats are available in various flavors, including Fuego, Crunchy Fajitas, Blue Heat, and Nitro.

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As a processed food, it’s not the healthiest thing you could put into your body. However, some are concerned that the intense spice of chips like Takis and snacks like Hot Cheetos could damage your digestive system. We explore whether Takis are bad for you.

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Are Takis Bad for you?

Nutritionally, Takis are not good for you. According to Healthline, they are high in fat, sodium, and calories and low in nutrients. They are a highly processed food, which have been shown to contribute to major health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Most people aren’t worried about the nutrient density; it’s the spice. According to WXYZ Detroit, Takis and Flaming Hot Cheetos have become popular snacks among kids in schools, which can be concerning for their digestive health.

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Gastroenterologist Dr. Partha Nandi told WXYZ Detroit, “So, these kids are eating them and they’re having a lot of pain, it’s because of the amount of acid is more than the stomach and also the esophagus can handle,” said Nandi, “So bad that they end up in the emergency room.”

A young girl with blonde hair and a blue jacket holds her stomach in pain.
Source: iStock
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According to USA Today, other doctors have seen kids end up in the emergency room because of the effects of eating too much of a spicy snack in one sitting.

The most common issues include stomach lining inflammation. Dr. Cary Cavender, a gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., told USA Today that issues surrounding spicy snacks send about 100 kids monthly to her hospital.

Among the more severe cases, a teenager had to have her gallbladder removed from eating too many spicy snacks. In 2018, 17-year-old Rene Craighead was used to eating up to four hot chip packs a week. One day, she began experiencing stomach issues from eating too many Hot Cheetos and Takis. She was taken to the hospital, where they immediately performed surgery to remove her gallbladder, per WREG Memphis.

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A woman reacts to eating a bowl of spicy food by holding up her hand to her mouth.
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Can spicy food cause ulcers?

Despite what you may hear, spicy foods won’t give you stomach ulcers. According to UChicago Medicine, spicy foods could be effective in fighting stomach ulcers.

Capsaicin, a chemical compound found in chili peppers that gives them that spicy element, has been used as a medication to prevent stomach ulcers. A study found that capsaicin effectively prevented acid secretion and stimulated mucus production when consumed.

However, experts note that if you already have a stomach ulcer, there is a chance that spicy foods could aggravate it. According to Byrdie, people who have open sores or peptic ulcers in their stomach have digestive conditions like IBS, acid reflux, Crohn’s disease, or colitis, may feel their symptoms ramp up after eating spicy foods.

Ultimately, listen to your body — if your stomach starts to hurt after eating spicy foods, it's probably a sign to stop.

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