Have you ever been enjoying some pineapple, whether on a pizza, in a smoothie or on its own, and wondered why your mouth is tingling all over? I once thought it was a minor allergic reaction until I came across a TikTok by Dr Karan Raj explaining the science behind why it happens.
In the video, which has nearly 90k views, Dr Raj says that every time you eat a bit of pineapple, it’s eating a part of you in return. Ummm…. What?
Yes – apparently it’s true. Stitching a video by another user that explains that when we eat pineapple, we’re actually getting stabbed by thousands of tiny needles called ‘raphides’. These needles contain what’s called calcium oxalate, and it pokes teeny tiny holes in your cell membranes, causing irritation.
Dr Raj continues, “In addition to the sharp needles, which kebab your tongue, pineapples contain a proteolytic enzyme known as bromelain.
“This combined with the natural pineapple acid starts to chow down on your meat. It breaks down protein and since your body is made of proteins, the pineapple tries to digest you, starting with your tongue and mucous membranes in your oral cavity.”
He says that while it’s physically damaging your cells, you shouldn’t worry. Once you’ve swallowed the pineapple, your stomach acid and your body’s proteolyctic enzyme will render it harmless – ha!
Some users commented with their own horror stories. “I ate a whole one once and my mouth was bleeding when I was done”, said one TikTokker.
Another said: “Now I know why the roof of my mouth feels raw after I eat pineapple!”
It’s not just pineapple that does this, though. Papaya, figs and kiwifruits also come with ‘attacking’ proteolytic enzymes.
So, how to avoid the tingles? “Cook the fruit or dunk it in salty water to denature and change the shape of the enzyme,” explains Dr Raj. Not quite sure how I feel about salty pineapple, but whatever the doctor says…