I'm always on the hunt for natural ways to relieve bloating and discomfort.
I've repeatedly seen (and of course been served Instagram ads for) Papaya as a "digestive enzyme supplement". So, I was naturally curious! Considering it's an easily accessible fruit and all-natural *potential* method to alleviate digestive discomfort. Below are some of my findings!
MACRONUTRIENTS & THEIR SQUADS
There are three macronutrients: fats, carbs, and protein! Each of these three categories has a whole squad of little soldiers (called enzymes) that help break them down into more digestible pieces
- Amylase enzymes help break down carbohydrates into sugars. (Remember: Amy likes carbs)
- Protease enzymes help break down proteins into amino acids. (Remember P = P)
- Lipase enzymes help break down fats into fatty acids. (Remember (Lips = Fat)
ENZYMES = SOLDIERS
Once these soldiers (enzymes) help digest, or broken down into these simpler forms, they are absorbed into the bloodstream and out of the digestive tract. The blood then transports the nutrients to our organs 👇🏼
If these soldiers do not perform their jobs to the fullest, their apathy tends to manifest as symptoms like bloating, constipation, and gas.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO PAPAYA?
While fruits are technically a part of the “carbohydrate” macronutrient category, papaya apparently contains a digestive enzyme called “papain” - which is a type of protease. As we know from the bullets above, proteases help break down proteins from the foods we eat.
That said…It is cool to note that many of the supplements (like the one pictured below) are also created with a dash of amylase too - which helps break down the carbohydrates (dominant macronutrient in fruit).
Another fun fact is that proteases (like those found in papaya) have also been used to unclog feeding tubes in hospital settings.
ANY NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS?
Papaya supplements that contain the papain enzyme might help support digestion. However, supplements can lack the fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in the whole fruit. This might suggest that eating the whole fruit provides more holistic / nutrient-dense serving of digestive enzymes.
According to some sources, taking large amounts of papain (reminder: the protease found in papaya) might damage the esophagus.