Papaya is a tropical fruit that is typically yellow, red or orange, and it has a succulent sweetness. When ripe, this tropical delight is a carbohydrate rich fruit that is a good source of folate and vitamin C1. It provides the body with nutrients that help to support the immune system and the digestive system. Papaya is also a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. It can be eaten cooked or raw when unripe. Unripe papaya is also called green papaya. Green papaya can be used in salads, sweets, stews or other dishes.
In addition to being a great source of nutrition, papaya also provides the body with amazing supportive benefits. Have you ever noticed that you get indigestion after meals? Or maybe your quality of life has decreased due to trauma or tissue damage? If so, then papaya may help support your body’s digestion and natural tissue protection methods. This is because both ripe and raw papaya are sources of proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes help to break down proteins. This function helps to support the body’s natural process of protein digestion and tissue protection. Continue reading to see how these properties may be just what your body needs to unlock optimal quality of life.
Papaya Enzymes & What They Do
Although both ripe and green papaya have proteolytic papaya enzymes, they are found at a higher concentration in green papaya. These enzymes are typically extracted from a milky substance called the papaya latex. This crude papaya latex has been heavily researched for its ability to support the body’s natural excretion of hemolytic parasites2.
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Due to this research, the enzymes within the papaya latex have been identified. The enzymes identified in the crude papaya latex are: papain, chymopapain, caricain, glycyl endopeptidase and glutamine cyclotransferase. The supportive benefits of these papaya latex enzymes include: aiding tissue protection, breaking down proteins and regularity support. Only four of the five enzymes are proteolytic enzymes. Each enzyme varies in structure and potency. These variations impact the enzymes’ benefits and uses. Let’s take a look at the ways each of these enzymes support the body’s natural functions.
The Caricain Enzyme
Out of the five papaya latex enzymes, the Caricain enzyme has been shown to be the most effective detoxifying enzyme for removal of gluten-type proteins3,4. You may not have known this, but a person with gluten intolerance lacks naturally produced enzymes similar to Caricain that break down gluten proteins5. (The most severe form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease6.) This can be problematic, because undigested gluten protein can cause tissues to be harmed in the body, which may decrease one’s quality of life. Caracain has been shown to effectively support the body's natural processes of breaking down and removing gluten proteins, which may be beneficial to a person with gluten intolerance. In a clinical study, Caricain in the right dosage provided 80% protection in this process4. If you are not taking a supplement that contains caracain, supplementing your diet with papaya after wheat-based meals may help support your body’s natural gluten digestion.
The Papain Enzyme
The most popular and highly researched papaya enzyme is papain. Papain is a proteolytic enzyme from the cysteine proteinase family. It functions by breaking down bonds in proteins, which is why it is commercially used as a meat tenderizer. In the body, papain specifically breaks down and helps to remove weak or damaged protein bonds. These weak or damaged bonds may cause discomfort. Papain is able to support the body's natural tissue protection process by promoting the maintenance of healthy proteins. This has been shown in clinical studies where papain has provided significant benefits to sports injury recovery3. The strong body of research for papain provides support for Enzymedica’s including it in the Repair™ and Repair Gold™ supplement formulas.
The three other enzymes present in papaya latex are chymopapain, glycyl endopeptidase and glutamine cyclotransferase. Glutamine cyclotransferase was identified in 1965. It is similar to caricain and was researched for its potential benefit of breaking down and removing gluten proteins9. The chymopapain enzyme is a proteolytic enzyme. It helps in breaking down bonds in protein, similar to papain. Lastly, glutamine cyclotransferase is a catalyst enzyme. All three enzymes contribute to the benefits of papaya latex. However, the body of research for all three enzymes are limited related to digestive health.
How to Supplement Your Diet with Papaya Enzyme
The aforementioned research supports the benefits of papaya enzymes for supporting the body’s natural functions to digest proteins and optimal joint health, but how do you unlock these benefits? One way is by consuming ripe or green papaya. In many Asian countries, green papaya is eaten in the form of a salad. Eating this before or after a meal may support your body’s natural protective and digestive process. Ripe or unripe papaya can be consumed in the form of a smoothie to unlock its benefits. Supplementing your diet in these ways is a great way to help the body effectively break down the proteins of a meal.
It is important to note that papaya enzymes may be sensitive to stomach acid that is formed after eating. To mitigate this and achieve the full benefits, you can try consuming unripe papaya on an empty stomach. Unripe papaya, as previously mentioned, has a higher enzyme concentration and can be consumed in the form of a salad or smoothie.
For the best results, you can also supplement your diet with the Enzymedica Repair™ or Repair Gold™ formulas, which include Papain and a unique blend of other beneficial enzymes.
Whichever method you choose, papaya will help to support an optimal quality of life by aiding your digestion and supporting fatigued muscles and joints.
- Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, United States Department of Agriculture National, https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2305?n1=%7BQv%3D1%7D&fgcd=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=50&sort=default&qlookup=papaya&offset=&format=Full&new=&measureby=&Qv=1&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=. Accessed 30 January 2018.
- Behnke, Jerzy M., et al. "Developing novel anthelmintics from plant cysteine proteinases." Parasites & vectors 1.1 (2008): 29, https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-3305-1-29. Accessed 30 January 2018.
- Mamboya, Ezekiel Amriand Florence. "Papain, a plant enzyme of biological importance: a review." American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology 8.2 (2012): 99-104, http://thescipub.com/pdf/10.3844/ajbbsp.2012.99.104. Accessed 30 January 2018.
- Dang, Lei, Douglas Wardlaw, and David WL Hukins. "Removal of nucleus pulposus from the intervertebral disc–the use of chymopapain enhances mechanical removal with rongeurs: a laboratory study." BMC musculoskeletal disorders 8.1 (2007): 122. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2474-8-122 . Accessed 30 January 2018.
- Messer, M., and M. Ottesen. "Isolation and properties of glutamine cyclotransferase of dried papaya latex." Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Specialized Section on Enzymological Subjects 92.2 (1964): 409-411. https://doi.org/10.1016/0926-6569(64)90204-4. Accessed 30 January 2018.