Food scientists: Eat more wild papaya for a stronger immune system

Eating more papaya (Carica papaya) can help boost your immune system, according to a study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The leaf concentrate of papaya has been traditionally used as an immunomodulatory remedy against various diseases. However, there is limited research on the effect of papaya on supporting the immune system. Thus, researchers in Sri Lanka conducted a study on the immunomodulatory potential of mature papaya leaf concentrate using mice models.

For the study, they orally gave mice the mature papaya leaf concentrate at doses of 0.18, 0.36, and 0.72 milligrams (ml) per 100 grams (g) of body weight once a day for three consecutive days. They then assessed the treatment’s effect on the nonfunctional (enumeration of immune cells and cytokine levels) and functional (cell proliferation and phagocytic activity) immune responses. They also tested whether the oral intake of the mature papaya leaf concentrate was safe.

Based on the results, all doses of the papaya leaf concentrate significantly improved the counts of platelets, total leukocytes, lymphocyte and monocyte subpopulations, and bone marrow cells of the mice. These improvements indicated the effectiveness of enhancing the immune system. In addition, the highest dose of the papaya concentrate reduced inflammatory cytokines, interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF?), suggesting the anti-inflammatory effects of the treatment.

Moreover, the treatment also improved phagocytosis of peritoneal macrophages, which suggested a modulation of the functional immunity of mice. It also modulated cytokine responses. The chemical profile of the mature papaya leaf concentrates also the presence of several immunomodulatory compounds.

The researchers also concluded that the treatment was safe as it did not cause any side effects on the liver and kidneys of the mice.

The findings of the study established the immunomodulatory properties of the mature papaya leaf concentrate as it effectively modulated immune responses by stimulating immune cell proliferation, increasing phagocytosis activity, and modulating cytokine responses.

Therefore, the researchers concluded that the oral intake of the mature papaya leaf concentrate is a safe and effective remedy for enhancing the immune system.

Other benefits of the papaya

In addition to papaya’s immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory effects, the superfood also offers many health benefits. Here are some of them:

  • Papaya aids digestion – Papaya contains papain, an enzyme known to aid digestion by breaking down proteins. It is also rich in fiber and water content. Drinking papaya juice is often recommended as a remedy for digestive problems or constipation.
  • Papaya helps prevent heart disease and cancer – The antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and vitamin content in papaya work against free radicals, therefore protecting the body from heart problems and cancer. The seeds of papaya also help detoxify liver and kidneys, fight cancer, and aid in digestion.
  • Papaya helps maintain blood sugar and cholesterol levels – Studies have shown that eating raw papaya could help maintain blood sugar and cholesterol levels due to its high fiber content, thus preventing diabetes.
  • Papaya supports skin health – Slices of papaya fruit can be used as a natural skin cleanser because of the fruit’s active enzymes that get rid of impurities.
  • Papaya helps prevent arthritis – Papaya contains high amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and copper. Eating papaya regularly helps increase the calcium levels in the body, which in the long run, helps prevent arthritis.
  • Papaya aids in weight loss – Because papaya is low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, it can be a healthy food option for people who are trying to lose weight.

Read more news stories and studies on superfoods like papaya by reading

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