Digestive enzymes and probiotics both play a critical role in how our digestive systems breakdown and absorb nutrients from food. People who lack the necessary digestive enzymes and probiotics often find themselves suffering from malabsorption, which can slow digestion and lead to uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, flatulence, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. These people would benefit the most from taking digestive enzymes and probiotics supplements.
What Are Digestive Enzymes?
Digestive enzymes are proteins involved in the digestion of food. Digestive enzymes are found naturally in the body, available in prescription form and are also sold as dietary supplements.
Secreted mostly by the pancreas, digestive enzymes aid the body in breaking down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. When normal functioning of the pancreas is disrupted and causes insufficient enzyme production, the body may be unable to properly break down foods that were ingested and absorb their nutrients. Digestive enzyme supplements protect against this malabsorption, which can slow digestion and lead to uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, flatulence, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. For instance, physicians often prescribe Rx digestive enzymes to people with pancreatic insufficiency from conditions like pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and cystic fibrosis.2
The Different Types of Digestive Enzymes
- Amylase, produced in the mouth. It helps break down large starch molecules into smaller sugar molecules.
- Pepsin, produced in the stomach. Pepsin helps break down proteins into amino acids.
- Trypsin, produced in the pancreas. Trypsin also breaks down proteins.
- Pancreatic lipase, produced in the pancreas. It is used to break apart fats.
- Deoxyribonuclease and ribonuclease, produced in the pancreas. They are enzymes that break bonds in nucleic acids like DNA and RNA.
How Digestive Enzymes Work
Digestive enzymes speed up chemical reactions that break down large food molecules into small molecules. There are many digestive enzymes found in the body and each one has its own special role in the breakdown of proteins, carbs, and fats.
Foods That Contain Natural Digestive Enzymes
- Kefir (probiotics, lipase, lactase, and protease)
- Honey (amylase, protease, diastase, and invertase)
- Ginger (zingibain)
- Miso (lactase, lipase, amylase, and protease)
- Pineapples (bromelain)
- Kimchi (protease, lipase, and amylase)
- Mango (amylase)
- Papaya (protease)
- Sauerkraut (probiotics, protease, lipase, and amylase)
- Avocado (lipase)
- Apricots (invertase)
- Bananas (amylases and glucosidases)
- Kiwi (actinidain)
The Benefits Of Using Digestive Enzymes Supplements
If you find yourself suffering from constipation, gas, or bloating then using a digestive enzymes supplement might prove to be beneficial for you. People who tend to consume a high protein diet, like bodybuilders, might have trouble breaking down all of the food naturally. Supplementing with digestive enzymes might help you to break down the food better which will also help you to better absorb the nutrients as well.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as germs that cause diseases but your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
The Different Types Of Probiotics
Many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. They all have different benefits, but most come from two groups.
- Lactobacillus. This may be the most common probiotic. It’s the one you’ll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
- Bifidobacterium. You can find it in some dairy products. It may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other conditions. Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast found in probiotics. It appears to help fight diarrhea and other digestive problems.
Foods That Contain Natural Probiotics
- Miso Soup
- Soft Cheeses
- Sourdough Bread
- Acidophilus Milk
- Sour Pickles
The Benefits Of Using Probiotic Supplements
Probiotics are believed to protect us in two ways. The first is the role that they play in our digestion. We know that our digestive tract needs a healthy balance between the good and bad gut bacteria, so what gets in the way of this? It looks like our lifestyle is both the problem and the solution. Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.
When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. The healthy balance of bacteria assists with the regulation of gastrointestinal motility and maintenance of gut barrier function. Research has shown some benefits for the use of probiotics for infectious diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, gut transit, IBS, abdominal pain and bloating, ulcerative colitis, Helicobacter pylori infection, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and necrotizing enterocolitis.
The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, H. pylori, skin infections, and vaginal infections). By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balance is restored, so it’s never too late.
Digestive enzymes and probiotics play a critical role in the breakdown and absorption of food as well as keeping our guts healthy. If you find yourself suffering from malabsorption, gas, bloating, or constipation you could possibly benefit from taking digestive enzymes and probiotic supplements. Keeping your gut healthy is important in maintaining overall health. If your body can’t properly absorb the nutrients you are trying to feed it then this could lead to a wide array of other health problems. You’re not only what you eat, but you are also what you can absorb.