Your pancreas has an important job to do. It produces chemicals called “enzymes.” Enzymes are needed to digest food. Without enzymes, you would not be able to absorb nutrients efficiently. Normally, most of the enzymes are only active after they reach the small intestine, where they are needed to digest food. But when these enzymes somehow become active inside your pancreas, they can eat (and digest) the tissue of your pancreas. Not surprisingly, this causes some pretty serious and painful symptoms, such as swelling, bleeding, and damage to your pancreas.
Acute pancreatitis affects men more often than women. Certain diseases, surgeries, and habits can make you more likely to develop the condition. Acute bouts of pancreatitis can be serious enough to land you in the hospital.
Now here’s some good news about pancreatitis: a very common spice may be able to help alleviate symptoms. Researchers have discovered that a substance found in black pepper called “piperine” could help to reduce the symptoms of acute pancreatitis.
The research team investigated whether piperine, a phenolic component of black pepper, could lessen the severity of pancreatitis. They found that piperine reduced cell death and enzyme activity. They also found that piperine exerted an anti-inflammatory effect on the pancreas. They concluded their study by stating that piperine has a protective effect against acute pancreatitis.
Besides coming to the aid of your pancreas, black pepper could also improve your digestion. The spice stimulates your taste buds, creating a chain reaction that causes your stomach, in turn, to increase hydrochloric acid secretion. And hydrochloric acid, of course, is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in your stomach. When your body doesn’t produce enough hydrochloric acid, food may sit in your stomach for an extended period of time, leading to uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn or indigestion.
So there you have it: black pepper is good for your digestion and good for your pancreas. Spice up your life and boost your nutritional health by adding some black pepper to your next meal. Your stomach will thank you.