Benefits of Papaya Fruit: Stress and AFS

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

Benefits of papaya fruit as part of your dietThere are many different benefits of papaya fruit – from weight loss to cancer. Papayas are good sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, making them a wonderful addition to any nutritional plan, whether you have a certain condition or just want something new to improve your overall health.

Originally from Mexico and Central America, papaya trees are now grown in many tropical countries. Though they are usually eaten whole, their distinct yet mild flavor works well in dressings and sauces, and their seeds are sometimes blended to add a peppery kick.

Papaya also has health benefits for those with adrenal fatigue syndrome (AFS), a condition affecting many in adults in the world today.

Vitamin C and the NEM Stress Response

The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system is a collection of organs and systems that work together to deal with stress and its effects on the body. In a healthy state, the NEM stress response is able to neutralize stress without becoming exhausted.

The problem arises, however, when the stress becomes chronic and the NEM components go into overdrive, trying to mitigate the damage the body is being exposed to. At some point, the system begins to weaken and wear out, and stress is left to wreak havoc on the body, further deteriorating the NEM circuits.

Much of the stress-neutralization work is done by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) hormonal axis – one of two hormonal NEM stress response circuits (the other being the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis). Through the HPA hormonal axis, the adrenal glands produce and secrete the most important stress-fighting hormone: cortisol.

Vitamin C helps boost adrenal gland function; it is actually one of the building blocks of cortisol. And it follows that one of the side effects of vitamin C deficiency is a lowered ability to handle stress (emotional, physical and mental) because of the compromised cortisol output.

Another two of the six components of the NEM stress response are the inflammatory circuit and detoxification circuit, both heavily reliant on a strong and healthy immune system. If the immune system is compromised, symptoms like allergies, food or chemical sensitivities, frequent infections, colds, and flus begin to show up.

Vitamin C is known to be the immune-boosting vitamin, and it has been shown to be beneficial for those whose immune system is weakened due to stress. In fact, its strong antioxidant action can help reduce the effects that stress has on the body and the NEM stress response. This antioxidant property protects against free radicals and oxidative damage.

Benefits of papaya fruit blendedThe antioxidant, immune-system-boosting, and anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin C are also important health benefits of papaya fruit. One of the main health benefits of the papaya fruit is its concentration of vitamin C. One small papaya contains over 200% of the daily recommended value.

Of course, if you have vitamin C deficiency or need a higher dosage than average, a high quality supplement can be a good option, though use with caution if you have adrenal fatigue as certain types may cause adrenal crashing. This is why it’s important to have proper nutritional coaching when recovering from AFS.

Benefits of Papaya Fruit for AFS Symptoms

Papaya fruit also has a variety of other health benefits, especially for sufferers of AFS.

Digestion and Weight Loss

Those with AFS usually have weight issues, gaining it easily and difficulty losing it, especially around the waist.

Papaya has a high nutrient-to-calorie ratio and its high fiber content (approximately 4 grams in one small fruit) gives a feeling of fullness. Fiber also helps keep things moving along, preventing constipation and maintaining a healthy bowel.

With advancing AFS, the body’s energy drops and the gastrointestinal tract begins to slow down, causing frequent constipation. Also, many people with adrenal fatigue have lower levels of the stomach acid needed to break down protein.

The Benefits of papaya fruit are papain, an enzyme that helps break down protein and fiber in food. The highest amount of papain is found in unripened papayas. You can also extract papain from papaya latex, which is how the digestive aid supplement is made. This enzyme is the reason papaya is used to tenderize meat. Benefits of papaya fruit can be useful for people with AFS to aid digestion, while its high fiber content can prevent constipation.

Papaya’s anti-parasitic properties can also help with some gastrointestinal tract disorders that some people with adrenal fatigue suffer from. Papayas anti-parasitic properties stem from its seeds.

Inflammation and Cortisol

Although acute inflammation is a necessary and important part of a healthy immune system, chronic inflammation is very problematic for the body. Cortisol helps to neutralize inflammation once it has fought off whatever the body was exposed to, but with chronic inflammation, this response can tax the adrenals a great deal, leading to adrenal fatigue. With advanced AFS, the adrenal gland output of cortisol is too low to be able to handle inflammation in the first place, allowing the inflammation to get out of control.

Although more research is needed, there are signs showing that papaya can help control and reduce inflammation in those with inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and inflammatory bowel disease. Its high content of vitamin C, as well its vitamin E and beta-carotene, also make it a useful ally in the fight against the oxidative stress caused by inflammation. Cortisol helps control inflammation, which papaya boosts, so its adrenal-enhancing properties add to its anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Papaya and Heart Health

Benefits of papaya fruit can help improve your health. Those with AFS can experience heart palpitations and unstable blood pressure. Although AFS and heart problems are not directly linked, the common denominator is that they are both aggravated, if not triggered, by chronic stress.

Hypertension and stress weaken the artery walls and cause the left ventricle of the heart to overcompensate by working harder. This brings on other issues, such as arrhythmia. This, in addition to cholesterol from unhealthy diets and lifestyles, increases heart disease risk, the number one killer of American adults.

One of the benefits of papaya fruits is their lycopene, an antioxidant that keeps cholesterol from oxidizing and thus narrowing the arteries. Although the concentration of lycopene in papaya is lower than that in cooked tomato, it is more bioavailable in papaya. Lycopene is also helpful in reducing the risk of strokes.

Since papaya helps cortisol output, it also helps reduce stress, a main factor in heart problems.

Final Notes

Although papaya is definitely a healthy choice, those with adrenal fatigue are advised to use caution when changing their diets. Some fruits should be limited or used in moderation, and all fruits should be organic whenever possible. This includes papaya.

The best way to make sure you are eating the right kind of diet for your condition is to get the right medical advice. This is especially true with AFS as some foods considered healthy for most people can adversely affect those with adrenal fatigue.

However, for many, the health benefits of papaya fruit make it a good addition to a healthy diet.

© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Benefits of papaya fruit squares