How Pineapple Can Digest Your Mouth!

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Yes you read that right, the delicious sweet tasting flesh of the nutritious, and ever so moreish pineapple could be digesting YOUR flesh…literally! Don’t be alarmed though, this is only in the mouth, plus it will only generally happen if you consume un- ripened pineapple flesh or the core (that hard lighter coloured part in the middle). There are some cases where people may have slight intolerances to pineapple, or even full blown allergies, so if this symptom persists and you notice other symptoms that may be indicative of an allergy then abstain from eating this food and visit your Doctor. The actual cause of the digestion of the flesh in the mouth is Bromelain, this is a group of enzymes that break down the proteins in meat and flesh…and this goes for your mouth too! Don’t get it twisted, your mouth isn’t going to disintegrate from the Bromelain in a single mouthful of pineapple, but the physical digestion of the outer layer of cells in your mouth can lead to a rather uncomfortable burning sensation, redness, inflammation and even some signs of bleeding in extreme cases.

 

Used during the tenderisation of meat

Bromelain’s efficiency at digesting flesh means the enzyme is actively used in order to tenderise meat after butchering. Bromelain and other enzymes derived from Papaya and Figs are harnessed and used to treat tough cuts of meat in turn making them more acceptable to consumers. The enzymes can be used in almost every meat including chicken, beef, pork, and even sea foods such as squid. The two most common enzymes used are indeed Papain (from Papaya) and Bromelain (from Pineapple), so this whole business about flesh digestion may now start to make a little more sense.

 

How to avoid these unpleasant reactions

In most cases a well ripened pineapple will be fine, and to be sure it is fully ripened look out for the ones that are golden in colour and not too yellow/green, and have a good sniff, ripe ones should have a strong pineapple aroma. According to Livestrong.com (2014), one of the best ways to speed up the ripening process is to turn the pineapple upside down and stand it on its leafy end for a few days. They also go onto explain that canned pineapple shouldn’t cause the same issue because the Bromelain is largely eradicated due to the pressurised container. Again, I would like to emphasise that should you experience persistent numb mouth alongside rashes, fainting, nausea and light headedness you should be sure to contact your Doctor, and of course stop consuming pineapple. Livestrong.com (2014) also explain that those who are sensitive or allergic to latex (found in most rubber gloves or condoms) may also be allergic to pineapple because the two contain similar proteins, meaning the chances of cross reactions are quite high.

 

Sources

Livestrong.com, (2014). Pineapple and a numb mouth. Retrieved 4th September, 2014, from http://www.livestrong.com/article/482836-pineapple-and-a-numb-mouth/

 

Enzyme Development Corporation, (2014). Meat tenderising enzymes. Retrieved 4th September, 2014, from http://www.enzymedevelopment.com/html/applications/protein.html

 

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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