Digestive Enzymes Vs. Probiotics: Which Do You Need More?
Published Sept 23, 2020
One common mistake people have upon hearing the word “probiotics” is that they’re similar to digestive enzymes. Well, in a sense, they’re right. Both digestive enzymes and probiotics help in your body’s digestion process. But aside from that, they pretty much have nothing in common.
So which do you need more?
Actually, you need both if you want to keep your gut happy. Though digestive enzymes and probiotics differ in a lot of things, they are a dream team when working together. Aside from a smooth-sailing digestion process, each also offers various health benefits.
Probiotics vs. Digestive Enzymes
As some of you know, probiotics are also called the “good bacteria”. As this moniker suggests, probiotics are beneficial microorganisms. They can live inside our body but since they’re organisms, we are not capable of producing them. We can only get probiotics from the foods we eat such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut among others.
Such, however, is not the case with digestive enzymes. These microscopic protein molecules are naturally produced by our bodies to help break down food. In fact, there are three different kinds of enzymes our body makes. Each of these breaks down a different kind of food into various nutrients which our body then absorbs:
- Protease – breaks down protein into amino acids
- Amylase – converts carbohydrates into simple sugars
- Lipase – breaks down fats so the body can easily absorb it
Interestingly, these digestive enzymes do not just come from a single source in our body. They are found all over our body and different glands produce different types of enzymes. The amylase for example, is produced by our salivary glands. While lipase is produced by both the salivary glands and the pancreas.
Another fascinating thing about digestive enzymes is they do not necesarily work in the place where they’re produced. Take the lipase for example. Though they’re produced in the pancreas, they mostly work in the small intestine.
How They Work Together
As mentioned earlier, the only common thing between probiotics and digestive enzymes is they both help with digestion. And together, they are a formidable team.
So how do they help with digestion?
Let’s start from the beginning. When you eat, you usually chew the food so you can easily swallow it. But aside from the chewing motion, the enzymes from your salivary glands also help the food break down more quickly. It then passes through your esophagus and into your stomach.
Upon reaching your stomach, the body will recognize what type of food it needs to break down. So it will send signals to the concerned glands to produce the necessary enzymes. These enzymes together with your stomach acids will then digest the food. This leaves them in a mushy mass of gastric juices and partially digested food.
This mushy mixture will then continue its journey to your small intestine. In there, your pancreas and liver will also release digestive enzymes to digest the food further. Any undigested food then proceeds to your large intestine where they are “squeezed dry”. All excess water is absorbed by your intestine walls so all that remains is a solid lump called a stool.
Now you may be asking, where does probiotics come in all of that?
Though they can be found anywhere in the body, probiotics mainly live in your gut area. It keeps the bad bacteria in check to prevent them from disrupting the digestion process.
Think of them as like your body’s soldiers. With less of them, the bad bacteria can easily run wild and conquer your gut. This can lead to a host of diseases which affects not just your digestive system but other parts of your body as well.
Aside from keeping the bad bacteria in check, studies show that probiotics also help lower the PH level in your colon. This allows your stool to move faster through it which makes pobiotics a go-to remedy for constipation.
Various research also suggest that probiotics help your body absorb and utilize protein and other nutrients more effectively.
Can You Take Digestive Enzymes and Probiotic Supplements Together?
Definitely! Most digestive enzyme and probiotic supplements are derived from natural ingredients. So you can usually take them together without any adverse side effects. Your gut will probably thank you for it too.
But remember that not all probiotics are created equal. There are thousands of probiotic strains out there and each serves a different purpose. Make sure that you’re taking probiotics especially formulated for your digestive system. Or else, you’ll just be wasting money. To be on the safe side, always make sure to consult your doctor before taking in any supplement.
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