Pineapple for Recovery in Endurance Athletes December 11, 2019 – Posted in: Functional Foods

Pineapple is a tropical plant and its medicinal uses have been documented in various traditional systems of medicine that date back to ancient times. Scientific advancements have revealed that the therapeutic benefits of pineapple are attributed to the presence of Bromelain in them.

Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes (proteases-enzymes that breakdown protein) present in Pineapple (mainly in the stem and fruit of the plant). It is a kind of a proteolytic (breaking down of proteins) enzyme that is involved in the dissolution of damaged components of skeletal muscles.

Bromelain is available in the form of powder, cream, tablet, capsules, etc. As a dietary supplement it is commonly used to cure nasal swellings, poor digestion, muscle soreness, etc. It as also applied topically in the form of creams and powders to treat skin wounds and burns.

It has been found to increase the bioavailability of antibiotics and also reduce the side effects of a few. It also believed to act as an immunomodulator, have anti-metastatic, anti-edimatous, anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory activities.

The relevancy of bromelain for athletes mainly lies in its properties that bring about recovery. It reduces the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and has anti-inflammatory effects. However, some studies suggest that the fact that it’s a protease, regulates clot formation and resorption after an injury, its benefits would only be significant if there is a notable membrane injury. Otherwise, its effectiveness may be limited.

A 1000 mg/day dose of bromelain through 6 days of cycle racing did not diminish the markers of muscle damage but did bring about a reduction in perceived exertion in the cyclists. Supplementation with Bromelain prior to and for four days after downhill running brought about a reduction in muscle soreness as compared to acute supplementation of bromelain for four days post damaging exercise.

Thus, bromelain may help overcome injuries and help with recovery if taken pre-exercise. Its limited benefits may also be enhanced if it’s taken along with other proteases. No toxicity or side effects were observed by consuming bromelain in doses as high as 1500 mg/day.

Given the mixed reviews on bromelain, its too soon to comment on its efficacy in terms of bringing about recovery in athletes. Not only is there availability of sparse data but the studies available have used bromelain supplements and not the actual fruit of pineapple to study the effects on athletes. Therefore, not much can be commented on the consumption of the quantity of its (fruit) intake to bring about positive outcomes.