Welcome back to Fitness Fridays with Alicia Jones! Every Friday, she’ll be answering your questions about health, fitness and nutrition! Here are today’s questions from city residents.

1. I heard chili peppers are good for your health. Something about the heat clearing up your sinuses. Is there any truth to this?

For many years rumors have spread that chillies clear out your sinuses, but is this old wives tale really fact or mere fiction?

Good news: It’s fact! Chili peppers have a number of great health benefits, one major perk is its ability to clear out our sinuses. You can thank capsaicin, the secret ingredient hidden inside of your hot peppers! Not only does it stimulate mucus production, giving our body a way to expel unwanted germs, but it also boosts our immune system by providing important flu-fighting vitamins such as vitamin A and C.

Fun fact: Are you staying away from chilies because they hurt your tummy? Research demonstrates that although chilies may cause digestive discomfort initially, their powerful heat producing chemicals rid our body of dangerous digestive bacteria. In addition, chilies can help lower our overall risk of developing ulcers and increase our stomach’s strength to ward off digestive disorders. 

2. What causes a low red blood cell count?

There are many reasons why your doctor may diagnose you with a low red blood cell count. Although some reasons are quite serious—such as cancer and internal hemorrhaging—the more popular and less life-threatening answer is anemia.

Anemia is a condition that causes excessive fatigue due to insufficient amounts of oxygen in your body. Women are more prone to anemia, as they lose red blood cells during their time of the month. Nutrition is another factor affecting the production of your red blood cells, or lack thereof. If your diet is low in meat and dairy you may be lacking the nutrients needed to make red blood cells. Iron (meat), B12 (shellfish) and folate (dark, leafy greens) are important nutrients needed to produce red blood cells. If your diet is rich with an array of these foods and you’re still experiencing a low red blood cell count, it may be time to ask your doctor for advice. Don’t panic! They may simply need to issue you a strong dose of iron pills.

3. Is it true that if I add lemon to my water, it will boost my metabolism?

One of my favorite food fun facts has to do with the lemon. During the 19th century, sailors were given lemons to prevent scurvy. The high quantity of vitamin C not only prevented this horrible disease, but also increased the sailors’ immunity to it.

Although lemons are wonderful immune boosters, they cannot speed up your metabolism. Many fad diets use lemon water as a substitute for food choices, lowering your overall calorie intake. This gives you the impression that your weight loss is due to a metabolism boost when in fact, it’s due to an overall decrease in calorie consumption.

In short, for immune boosting power enjoy your tall glass of lemon water! But if you’re using it as a weight loss aid, you may want to think again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlicia Jones is the owner of Destination Fit and can be reached via e-mail or by calling 647-233-7827.

Submit your questions to @mississaugalife!