Digestion is a complex biological process that requires the coordination of various enzymes and microorganisms to break down food into its smallest components. The digestive system is home to a host of enzymes, including digestive enzymes and probiotics, which may work together to aid in supporting digestion and overall health.*
Digestive enzymes vs probiotics: what's the difference?
Digestive enzymes are proteins that are produced by the body to help break down food into smaller, more easily absorbed pieces. These enzymes work in a specific way to break down specific types of food, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
There are many foods that are rich in enzymes and might help to support digestive health.* Some of the most commonly consumed foods that contain digestive enzymes include:
- Pineapple: Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which helps to break down proteins.
- Papaya: Papaya contains the enzyme papain, which helps to break down proteins.
- Kiwi: Kiwi contains the enzyme actinidin, which helps to break down proteins.
- Ginger: Ginger contains the enzyme zingibain, which helps to break down proteins.
- Raw Honey: Raw honey contains enzymes that help to break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- Unripe bananas: Unripe bananas contain the enzyme amylase, which helps to break down carbohydrates.
- Avocado: Avocado contains the enzyme lipase, which helps to break down fats.
- Fermented foods: Fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt, contain enzymes produced during the fermentation process that aid in digestion.
Probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria that are found in the digestive tract. They may play an important role in maintaining a healthy gut by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria.* Probiotics also help to break down food, producing lactic acid, which can support digestion and the immune system.*
There are many foods that are rich in probiotics and can help to support gut health. Some of the most commonly consumed foods that contain live active probiotic bacteria may include:
- Yogurt: Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that is rich in probiotics. Look for yogurt that contains live and active cultures to ensure that it contains probiotics.
- Kefir: Kefir is a fermented milk product that is similar to yogurt and is rich in probiotics. It can be consumed plain or used as a base for smoothies and other drinks.
- Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is a type of fermented cabbage that is rich in probiotics. It is a traditional food in many cultures and can be consumed as a side dish or used as a topping for sandwiches and other foods.
- Kimchi: Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish that is traditionally made with cabbage and other vegetables. It is a staple food in Korean cuisine and is rich in probiotics.
- Pickles: Pickles are cucumbers that have been fermented in a mixture of vinegar, water, and salt. Some pickles are also fermented with probiotic bacteria, making them a good source of probiotics.
- Tempeh: Tempeh is a type of fermented soybean product that is rich in probiotics. It is a staple food in Indonesian cuisine and can be used as a meat substitute in a variety of dishes.
- Miso: Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It is rich in probiotics and can be used to make soups and sauces.
Enzyme vitamins: a vital part of digestive health
Enzyme vitamins are supplements that usually contain digestive enzymes and are used to help support digestive health.* These supplements are sometimes used by people with digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, and indigestion, as well as for those with enzyme deficiencies.* They may also be used by people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as plant-based foods may not provide enough enzymes to properly digest food.*
Multi enzymes: a comprehensive approach to digestive health
Multi-enzyme supplements contain a blend of digestive enzymes that are used together to help support in the breakdown of different types of food.* This multi approach to digestive health may help to support overall digestion for some people and situations.
Best pancreatic enzyme supplements: supporting the body's natural process
The pancreas is a vital organ that produces digestive enzymes, including pancreatic enzymes, which are important for proper digestion. Pancreatic enzyme supplements may help to support the body's natural digestive process and improve the breakdown of food.* When choosing a pancreatic enzyme supplement, it's important to look for one that contains high-quality ingredients.
Lactic acid bacteria: a key player in probiotic health
Lactic acid bacteria are a type of probiotic bacteria that might also play a role in maintaining a healthy gut.* They produce lactic acid, which is usually involved in lowering the pH of the gut, making it more difficult for harmful bacteria to thrive.* Lactic acid bacteria may help to support digestion, the immune system, and produce certain nutrients that support overall health.
Probiotic bacteria: supporting the health of the gut microbiome
Probiotic bacteria are beneficial microorganisms that are found in the digestive tract. They may play a role in supporting a healthy gut by potentially promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria.*
Immune system enhancing compounds: supporting the body's natural defense mechanisms
The gut is thought to be home to about 70% of the immune system, making it a significant component of overall health. Probiotics and digestive enzymes might help support the immune system by producing immune-enhancing compounds that help to protect against harmful bacteria and other pathogens.*
Live active probiotic bacteria: supporting digestive health
When choosing a probiotic supplement, an option is also to look for one that might contain live active probiotic bacteria. Live active probiotic bacteria are microorganisms that are found in certain foods, such as fermented foods and probiotic supplements. They are considered "live" because they are still alive when consumed and might be able to colonize the gut. "Active" refers to the fact that these probiotics have been shown to potentially support gut health.
In conclusion, enzymes and probiotics are key players in the digestive process and may play a role in supporting overall health.*
Digestive enzymes help to break down food into smaller, more easily absorbed pieces, while probiotics may promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.*
Taking enzyme vitamins, multi-enzyme supplements, and pancreatic enzyme supplements might in some instances help support the body's natural digestive process. At the same time, probiotic supplements may also support gut health and the immune system.*
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. Get professional advice if you think you might need a digestive enzymes supplement and or a probiotics supplement and or are already taking one to ensure you're not exceeding the amounts you may need.