Why does your tongue itch when you eat pineapple?

What is it about pineapple that makes your tongue itch when you eat it? Surely these holidays you will have remembered it since it is a typical fruit in many countries that is consumed during the end of the year celebrities. Discover the secret of this tropical fruit.

Whether served alone naturally, in fruit salads or in sweet or savory recipes, pineapple with its refreshing sweet and sour flavor offers a very interesting contrast that makes you love it or hate it. But if you've tried it on occasion you know one thing: over time your tongue itches, and sometimes a lot.

The secret after your tongue itches: digestion

The itchy sensation that many people experience when eating raw pineapple is due to the fact that its pulp contains an enzyme called protease, which is capable of digesting and breaking down the proteins that the pineapple plant uses as a defense method against parasites and pathogens that want to eat. attack her.

In this case, the protease is called bromelain and the name comes from the botanical term for the pineapple family, Bromeliaceae. This enzyme is similar in properties to papain from papaya.

When eating pineapple, especially in large quantities, bromelain will act on proteins found in the soft tissues of the mouth, including the tongue, causing a temporary itching or burning sensation.

The itch is usually more intense at the beginning of eating pineapple, since the mucous layer that protects the tongue breaks down as the fruit is consumed. Additionally, the itching may be more intense in people with an irritated or wounded tongue.

It is literally a pineapple that tries to digest the mouth of whoever eats it: it is the result of the proteolytic action of bromelain on the surface proteins of the oral mucosa. This effect is temporary, generally harmless and usually disappears within a few minutes, although some people are more sensitive than others.

There are people who, after feeling this unpleasant sensation in their mouth, will associate this effect with an allergy to pineapple. It is important not to confuse the symptoms when your tongue is itchy since the proteolytic effect of bromelain can be irritating but does not cause allergic reactions.

It is true that bromelain can cause allergies in some people, the main symptoms may be contact urticaria, swelling of the tongue, atopic dermatitis, asthma and rhinitis. This allergic reaction may require medical attention and, depending on the severity, immediate attention.

In addition to bromelain, pineapple also contains oxalic acid, which can contribute to itchiness. Oxalic acid is an acid found in many plants, and can cause irritation to the skin and mucous membranes.

itches the tongue

Pineapple properties

Also known as pineapple (Pineapple comosus) This fruit is rich in vitamins C and D, and is also a good source of minerals such as iodine, potassium and magnesium, as well as fiber and water.

The enzyme it has is considered digestive because it helps digest food proteins and transform them into amino acids, improving the digestive process and facilitating the assimilation of nutrients.

But its consumption should be moderate. Dangerous radical diets or detoxes based on its diuretic effects, suggesting the "detoxifying" or "cleansing" powers of this fruit, as we know, are misleading and have many potential risks.

Reduce the annoying sensation when your tongue itches

The center of the ripe pineapple is the part that contains the most bromelain and many of us do not want to waste it when cutting fruit because if it is of good quality and cut into thin slices, it is neither fibrous nor too hard. So as an option to avoid this feeling that your tongue is itchy, you can avoid consuming its central part.

  • Eat pineapple in the form of juice or smoothie, since bromelain is destroyed by heat.
  • Soak the pineapple in cold water for a few minutes before eating it.
  • Cook the fruit in the oven since the heat destroys the enzyme responsible for the sting.
  • Eat pineapple with other foods, such as yogurt or cheese, which can help neutralize bromelain.

References:

  • Allergome - The platform for Allergen Knowledge. 2022. Allergenic Molecule Ana c 2 (No. 694). Allergome.
  • Baur, X. et al. 1979. Allergic reactions, including asthma, to the pineapple protease bromelain following occupational exposure. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.1979.tb02507.x
  • Nanda, R.F. et al. 2020. A Review: Application of Bromelain Enzymes in Animal Food Products. Andalasian International Journal of Agriculture and Natural Sciences (AIJANS), 1(01), 33-44. DOI: 10.25077/aijans.v1.i01.33-44.2020
  • Walker, S. et al. 2003. Psychophysical properties of mechanical oral irritation. Journal of Sensory Studies, 18, 325-345. DOI: 10.1111/J.1745-459X.2003.TB00392.X

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