Black Pepper: The Unsung Hero Of A Healthy Immune System
Black pepper and the immune system form a strong but rarely discussed partnership. The kitchen staple of spices has been seasoning meals for thousands of years, but it’s also been used as medicine for centuries. Traditional Indian medicine reveres its ability to relieve flatulence, and those with epilepsy in China often apply it for traditional treatment.
So what is black pepper good for in modern medicine? Is black pepper good for immunity? Studies are sparse, but its spectrum of benefits range from boosting white blood cells up to simply subbing in for its imperfect counterpart: salt.
Let’s dive into all things black pepper and immunity!
Black pepper and the immune system
What is black pepper good for besides giving your food an extra kick? Does black pepper have any health benefits we can apply today? Research indicates that black pepper can do wonders for your overall immune system health. Its core benefits fall into three main areas: nutrients, anti-inflammatory properties, and antioxidants.
Black pepper is cholesterol-free, low in sodium and fat, and a premium source of magnesium. With its nutritional offerings landing heavily in the healthy camp, the spice is a great supplement to add to your diet. It packs a rich variety of vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Pantothenic Acid (B5)
Image by Klaus Nielsen on Pexels: What is black pepper good for? An immune-boosting seasoning for snacks!
As well as giving the spice its distinctive flavor, black pepper’s main active compound, piperine, may be effective in fighting inflammation. Piperine serves as black pepper’s alkaloid component, which balances the immune system and can help draw curcumin from turmeric.
Dietician Gillian Culbertson referred to a 2020 study on black pepper when she noted, “It’s especially powerful when combined with turmeric because it helps your body absorb that spice’s curcumin compound, which also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.” Curcumin is not absorbed well in the body, so by potentially boosting absorption, black pepper forms a key partnership with turmeric by aiding digestion and allowing the immune system to reap the otherwise lost benefits.
Another study exploring piperin’s effect on the absorption of curcumin showed that taking 20 mg of piperine with 2 grams of curcumin “improved the availability of curcumin in human blood” by a whopping 2,000%. Another study analyzing piperine’s ability to suppress cardiac injury associated with anti-cancer drug doxorubicin found that lab mice injected with piperine experienced reduced inflammation.
Another rodent study suggests piperine’s anti-inflammatory properties could protect renal tissue damage linked to ischemia-reperfusion injury, referring to tissue damage from oxygen deprivation. Piperin can also help decrease chronic inflammation deriving from metabolic syndrome when taken in supplement form. Additionally, arthritis studies on rats have shown the compound can reduce joint swelling and blood markers of inflammation.
As with many results from animal testing, we can’t be certain the benefits will translate to us humans, but the studies do look promising.
How else is black pepper good for immunity? It's rich in cancer-destroying antioxidants, the molecules that fight dangerous free radicals in your body.
Beta-carotene is another compound (found in fruit and veg and converted to vitamin A) that black pepper may help us to absorb. Beta-carotene functions as a powerful antioxidant that may combat cellular damage, thus preventing conditions like heart disease.
Studies have found that taking piperine with beta-carotene can dramatically increase levels of beta-carotene in human blood (compared to taking it alone).
Image by Antoni Shkraba on Unsplash: Does black pepper have any health benefits? Besides key nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties are the cornerstones of black pepper as a healthy spice.
How can you add more black pepper to your diet?
Black pepper can be added to meals and snacks in a variety of ways, including:
- Salads and smoothies
- Black pepper kadha
- Black pepper tea
- Tomato black pepper soup
- Black pepper marinade
- Seasoning for meats, fish, vegetables, salad dressings, stir-fries, pasta, scrambled eggs, avocado toast, fruit, and dipping sauces.
Remember: to get the most health benefits, freshly ground pepper beats additive-ridden pre-ground products.
Is black pepper good when you're sick?
Got the sniffles, but don’t fancy a hit from that peppercorn grinder? Think again. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that are prominent in black pepper are well-equipped to fend off infections. The high levels of vitamin C functions as both a natural boost to your immune system and a virile antibiotic. It turns the spice into an ace up the sleeve to battle fevers, coughs, and colds, so be sure to sprinkle a healthy serving over your next steamy bowl of soup! You can also crush and blend it with honey to ease chesty coughs.
Black pepper may also be effective in treating arthritis inflammation, Alzheimer's disease, high blood sugar, and poor gut health. Taking supplements of black pepper (at a recommended strength between 5mg–20mg) can especially help to protect you from ailments taking hold – and prevention beats treatment, after all.
It’s clear that black pepper could prove a key addition to any diet aiming at a healthier immune system. With a clear understanding of why it’s so great, and how you can begin implementing the spice into your diet, there’s no reason you can’t begin bolstering your health with black pepper today. If you want to take your vitality even further, keep an eye for GenBoost’s own incredible immunity supplement range, available very soon.
Featured image by Victoria Bowers on Unsplash