Ever notice that eating fresh papaya or pineapple makes you feel good? Like really good? Part of it could be that you’re on a dreamy tropical vacation and part of it is that these fruits are scientifically proven to help with digestion and a litany of other health concerns.

The two key players here are bromelain and papain. Bromelain is found in the flesh and stems of pineapples while papain is found in the fruit, leaves, latex and roots of papaya plants. Yet they are very similar in form and function and are therefore even more effective when utilized together, like in our new SIBO-friendly comprehensive bloat supplement: Bloat BFF. We’re going to break down some of the key reasons papain and bromelain are such powerful bloat busters as well as why we love them for inflammation, sinus issues, and skin.



Have you ever marinated meat in pineapple juice before? 1. It’s delicious, you should try it if you haven’t already. 2. There is a legit reason! It’s an incredible meat tenderizer and has been used for centuries by many cultures around the world. Both bromelain and papain are considered to be proteolytic enzymes which means they help you digest proteins by breaking the chemical bonds between amino acids. This translates to faster transit time in the gut, aka faster pooping!

If you’re on a high-protein diet like keto or paleo diet, bromelain and/or papain can be particularly helpful. Interestingly, certain enzymes require a specific pH range (often more acidic) to activate and function properly, but papain can work without an acidic environment (1). This is important because many of us struggle with low stomach acid so papain can be a really inclusive option for all. Fun fact – if you suspect you have low stomach acid, you can actually test for this at home. All you do is mix ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in 6 oz of cold water, drink it, then time how long it takes for you to burp. If it takes longer than 3 minutes, you have low stomach acid! This is because the baking soda reacts with your stomach acid to produce carbon dioxide gas, aka burping.


If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious digestive condition, papaya and pineapple enzymes may provide you some relief! Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Chron’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, are on the rise. Fortunately, research shows that bromelain can be a therapeutic treatment for IBD. Essentially, inflammatory cells in the mucus of the colon lead to tissue damage and classic IBD symptoms like abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea.

Taking oral bromelain reduces existing inflammation in the colon and down regulates the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that damage the gut lining (2). Bromelain also wipes out intestinal cell receptors that can bind intestinal bacteria, decreasing the likelihood that immune cells will be negatively impacted by bacterial antigens. In that same vein, papain is known to soothe and strengthen the digestive tract over time, offering reprieve to those struggling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (3). 


We all know how crucial fiber is for the microbiome at this point. High dietary fiber consumption is consistently associated with increased gut microbiota diversity as well as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)-producing bacteria in the gut (4). SCFAs are made from the fermentation of dietary fiber and resistant starch and have countless benefits in the gut including producing mucus, repairing the gut lining, enhancing nutrient absorption, and preventing the colonization of pathogens.

Turns out the fermentation of dietary fiber from papayas in particular triggers the production of SCFAs and improves the diversity of microorganisms in our guts like Clostridium and Bacteriodes. Oddly enough, eating unripe papaya actually boosts the gut microbiome even more, increasing Clostridiaceae, Coprobacillus, Bulleidia, and Slackia (5). And if we still haven’t convinced you to up your papaya intake, several studies have shown that papain is also a potent antibacterial. It specifically targets enteropathogens (nasty bugs contracted from fecal contact) like Enterobacter cloacae, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus and Proteus vulgaris (6,7). No thanks!

Similarly, the fiber and bromelain found in pineapple have been shown to promote probiotic growth, specifically Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, and increase SCFAs (9). While more research needs to be done on bromelain’s antibacterial properties in the gut, it has been proven to inhibit the growth of pathogens in the mouth microbiome – like Porphyromonas gingvalis which causes gingivitis (9).

Recipe idea: Tepache, a fermented, fizzy drink made by fermenting pineapple, is a delicious (and gut supportive) probiotic drink native to Mexico. If this piques your interest, we highly recommend trying it out in your very own kitchen! All you do is combine 1 cut up pineapple (with peels), 1 cup of organic sugar, 1 stick of cinnamon, 3 cloves, and 2 quarts of water in a large glass container. Cover it with a cheesecloth and let it sit for 24 hours at room temp. Then remove the foamy white layer with a spoon, cover it again, and let it sit for another 24 hours at room temp. Finally, strain it into a new glass jar and sip away!



Fun fact, bromelain is a surgeon’s best friend. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a fantastic painkiller and swelling-reducer, especially for the nose, sinuses and mouth. And even if you aren’t getting surgery anytime soon, research suggests that consuming pineapple could be beneficial in reducing inflammation from tendonitis, sprains and strains.


This one’s for the girlies with chronic sinus infections. Turns out papain digests mucin, a glycoprotein in mucous, making it less viscous and easier to eliminate. Not to mention papain is also a potent antioxidant, on par with Vitamin C, that helps protect the mucous membrane and boost immunity.


Papain is an effective and gentle exfoliator for the skin, digesting damaged and dead skin cells to reveal softer, brighter skin beneath. It can also be extremely helpful in lightening hyperpigmentation and scarring from acne. Don’t sleep on making a papaya mask at home! Simply mix up 1/2 c greek yogurt, 1 tbs honey, and a papaya in a bowl, apply to clean skin and let sit for 20 mins before rinsing off. 


We hope that this deep dive into the many benefits of papaya and pineapple inspires you to enjoy them more often, experiment with them, and try out supplementing with them! If you’re interested in the latter, our Bloat BFF supplement is a great place to start. As we were formulating this comprehensive bloat supplement, the addition of papaya and pineapple was a no brainer. These two ‘food as medicine’ ingredients compliment the addition of spore-forming probiotics and enzymes to tackle bloat and GI upset from every angle.

Bloat BFF is launching on 9.12.23. You can click here to learn more about this formula and be the first to shop. 

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