Remember When Scientists Thought
That
Black Pepper Was the Cure for
Obesity?


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Mar 27, 2018

By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist










There was good reason to be optimistic in 2012. Black
pepper
's active ingredient called "piperine" had been shown
to have an inhibitor effect on the processes that start the
building of fat cells.  They had finally unlocked the msyteries
of how fat cells start and how piperine inhibits that start.
The scientists in that study led by Sejong University of South
Korea, like all scientists, tend to understate the promise of
their breakthroughs. But they indulged themselves this
optimistic look into a future when obesity might be a thing of
the past:

"Overall, these results suggest that piperine, a major
component of black pepper, attenuates fat cell differentiation
by down-regulating PPARγ activity as well as suppressing
PPARγ expression, thus leading to potential treatment for
obesity-related diseases."

Dutifully, some papers and sites breathlessly heralded the
news:

"Unmasking black pepper's secrets as a fat fighter...piperine
also can block the formation of new fat cells". ScienceDaily.
com

"Black Pepper May Help Fight Fat". WebMD.com




That was then. Fast forward six years and we have seen no
further advancement in this promising research. Obesity and
obesity-related diseases are the leading cause of death on
planet Earth and yet we hear silence. It's as if scientists
discovered a simple spice could cure cancer and the world
greets it with a collective ho-hum.




The Problem with the Korean Study Linking Black Pepper
with Anti-Obesity Effects


































Like many studies, the Korean study was a lab dish study. To
perform these studies, scientists examine how easily a
process takes place in the presence of other substances. For
example, say you wanted to test whether sugar enhances a
brain cells ability to divide. You would place brain cells in a
petri dish and watch them divide in a neutral solution, say
saline or water. Then you would repeat the experiment, only
adding sugar. If the cells stopped dividing, you might be on
to something. You might venture saying that sugar inhibits
or accelerates brain cell growth.  Of course, the experiment
doesn't show this at all.



Inside the human body, the processes that enable or inhibit
biochemical reactions typically are complex. One element
such as magnesium can be involved in 500 essential life-
supporting chemical processes. This is the problem of
numerosity. If you had to tract  the action of such an
element, you might observe that magnesium enhances the
uptake of say iron, all the while ignoring that in one or more
of the other 500 interactions in which it is involved,
magnesium may also play a role antagonistic to the uptake of
iron.



The simple truth is, without extensive study on humans ---
not lab dishes and not lab animals --- one has to regard any
scientific studies as preliminary and perhaps also, inchoate.

To draw a hard conclusion about how a substance acts on
humans, we need humans.

So it was with the good news about black pepper. Don't you
just know that after seeing those headlines in webmd and
the like, that all over America people started to secretly chug
a heaping spoonful of black pepper every day?


But black pepper is not the whole story of how our bodies
end up obese. In fact, the United States has an obesity rate
of over 33%, yet it is the country with the second highest
consumption of peppers of all kinds, behind India, according
to a
market study.


There is another reason that black pepper is not the solution
to obesity we once had hoped it would be.

Black Pepper Stimulates Your Appetite


Black pepper has been used fr thousands of years to add
flavor and stimulate appetite. In fact, in the ancient practice
of Ayurvedic medicine, black pepper is used to aid digestion
by relieving gas and stimulate appetite.


Thus, adding more black pepper to your diet is likely to
increase the amount of calories you consume. And even if
the black pepper succeeds in suppressing fat absorption
from certain of those foods, all the calories from other
sources may in fact overwhelm this benefit.



































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