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Proteolytic Enzymes: Benefits and Natural Sources!

Proteolytic enzymes have many important functions in the body, including helping break down food for energy, and are found in certain foods and supplements. Studies suggest that they can improve digestion, decrease inflammation, ease arthritis pain and possibly reduce symptoms related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Proteolytic enzymes are essential for many important processes in your body. They’re also called peptidases, proteases or proteinases. In the human body, they are produced by the pancreas and stomach. While proteolytic enzymes are most commonly known for their role in the digestion of dietary protein, they perform many other critical jobs as well. For example, they are essential for cell division, blood clotting, immune function and protein recycling, among other vital processes.

Two of the best food sources of proteolytic enzymes are papaya and pineapple. Papayas contain an enzyme called papain, also known as papaya proteinase I. Papain is found in the leaves, roots and fruit of the papaya plant. Papain is a powerful proteolytic enzyme. In fact, it has been used for thousands of years as a meat tenderizer due to its ability to break down protein. Meanwhile, pineapples contain a powerful proteolytic enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain is found in the fruit, skin and sweet juice of the pineapple plant and has been used for centuries by the indigenous people of Central and South America as a natural treatment for a number of ailments. You can get papain and bromelain by eating raw papaya and pineapple, respectively. You can also buy these proteolytic enzymes in concentrated supplement form. Though pineapples and papayas are the most common sources of proteolytic enzymes, other dietary sources include:

  • Ginger

  • Asparagus

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Yogurt

  • Kiwi Fruit

  • Kefir

  • Turmeric

  • Kimchi

  • Sauerkraut

  • Yogurt

Even though you can purchase the enzymes as a supplement and proteolytic enzymes are generally considered safe the supplements can cause side effects in some people. It's possible you may experience digestive issues like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, especially if you take very high doses so natural sources in fresh foods may be the best course for most people.

Knowledge about the effectiveness of this enzyme in aiding the healing of joints and benefits to those suffering from arthritis has been known since the 60's! A 1965 double-blind placebo study (the gold standard of studies) compared 44 people with ankle injuries from sports accidents. They discovered that proteolytic enzymes helped to promote faster healing and took 50% less time away from training. Studies collectively involving 400 osteoarthritis participants compared treatment with proteolytic enzymes versus an anti-inflammatory medication called diclofenac.

The studies found that pain management was about equivalent between the group that took medication and the one that received the proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes counter the damage done by sertain proteins that may be causal factors for age related joint pain.Dairy contains a high level of protein casein. This type of protein triggers inflammation and pain in the joints, and may even contribute to irritation around the joints.Scientists have identified a protein known as sulfatase‑2 that plays a critical role in the damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis. A chronic disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own joint tissues, rheumatoid arthritis affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans


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