The World Health Organization's September 2006 study on adult obesity levels found that approximately 1.6 billion adults (ages 15 and over) are overweight and more than 400 million are actually in the obese category. With these staggering figures, it is no wonder that Americans spent over $55 billion on weight loss supplements and products in 2007, as stated by the Marketdata Enterprises study, "The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market." Researching the use of natural methods at losing and controlling weight and health has led to the use of digestive enzymes as a weight loss supplement.
First cultivated in Mexico, the papaya fruit is native to the Americas mainly from the tropical lands. It has since been eaten and used for medicinal purposes throughout the world. In fact, the peoples from the Pacific Islands use papaya for uses ranging from skin care to birth control. Until 1933, papaya had only been marketed as being eaten in its most ripe state, but eventually it was discovered that unripened papaya contained two strong digestive enzymes, papain and chemopapain.
The foods that people eat are a combination of macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, protein and/or lipids/dietary fats), but for them to be utilized as energy and the various functions that they can contribute to your bodily maintenance, catalysts in the form of digestive enzymes are needed to break apart these macro-nutrients into micro-nutrients. In this state, food can actually be used as energy instead of being stored it in fatty cells or having adverse side-effects like those with a lactose intolerance.
Papain is not produced naturally in your body, but it can act in the same way that your natural digestive enzymes do. It is a cysteine protease, meaning it can break apart large protein molecules into smaller and soluble molecules called peptone. It became evident that this was possible when papaya began being used as a meat tenderizer, and when tested, the enzyme indeed had the same effect with the proteins that people consumed.
Historically, papain has been utilized and used as an aid in calming an upset stomach, arterial calcification, inflammation, and constipation among many other uses, but as of November 2010, there has been no convincing evidence shown to prove its effects on weight loss. Macro-nutrients need to be catalyzed before they can be used as energy, so since papain supplements generally contain both protein and lipid enzymes, it would lead to the incorrect assumption that papain would help dietary fats to be more efficiently utilized.
As with any food, eating too much of it can have adverse effects on health, but with the digestive enzyme papain, you might wonder what effects will high levels of it have on the human body. When humans produce a normal level of digestive enzymes, supplementing with them can harm you in the sense that enzymes are inversely proportional to how much you supplement. Meaning, the more enzymes that you consume, the less your body will produce.
Papain has been shown to help in many ways internally and externally, though not in a weight loss capacity. If you have troubles digesting food and are looking for a natural remedy, consult your primary physician and ask about papain and other dietary digestive enzyme supplements.
- World Health Organization: "Obesity and Overweight"
- Worldometers: "The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market"
- Simonsohn, Barbara. (2000) . "Healing Power of Papaya". Lotus Press
- Tietze, Harald W,. (2003) "Papaya the Medicine Tree", Harald W. Tietze Publishing
- Editore, Giunti. (2007). "Atlas of Human Physiology", Taj Books International