Papaya is a super food that is rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

Additionally, this tropical fruit contains papain, a proteolytic enzyme that helps promote digestion. In fact, in laboratory studies, papaya extract was shown to alleviate induced gastric ulcers in rats, leading researchers to believe that the fruit may be useful in treating gastric ulcers in humans. Papain is also thought to soothe an upset stomach caused by overeating. However, before using papaya to treat indigestion, be sure to consult with your doctor.

Remember to see your doctor if you experience any of these digestive problems:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Heartburn that is not relieved by antacids

Fresh papaya is available all year round in most grocery stores and papaya nectar is available either canned or bottled. The skin of the fruit is bright yellow when it's fully ripe and should feel firm to the touch. It may be eaten as a melon, scooped out of the skin, or cooked as a vegetable to use as a side dish.

Although papaya is generally considered to be safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when consumed in normal dietary amounts, there have been cases of severe allergic reactions reported, so make sure you're not allergic to the fruit before eating it as a digestive aid. You may also want to avoid eating papaya, if is unripe or semi-ripe, or if you are pregnant.

3 Tips for Digestive Health

In addition to eating papaya, here are more tips on ensuring good digestive health:

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating a diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of water will help keep your digestive system running smoothly. And, be sure to chew your food slowly and relax after each meal to allow your food to digest properly.
  2. Stay active. Sticking to a regular exercise program such as walking or swimming for about 30 minutes a day on most days of the week can help stimulate your digestive system. Yoga is also a great way to stimulate your digestive system.
  3. Try herbal remedies. Herbs such as ginger and peppermint can help alleviate nausea and help reduce indigestion and gas after meals.