Many people with gastrointestinal disorders have found comfort in taking digestive enzymes and probiotics together. Friendly bacteria (probiotics) and enzymes are both located in the digestive tract. In fact, healthy bacteria in our bodies actually produce certain enzymes to assist with digestion. Often, supplementation of both enzymes and probiotics are needed to provide optimal digestion and intestinal wellbeing. Even if you don’t suffer from digestive difficulties, you can benefit from taking both together. For example, during times of stress and illness, enzymes and probiotics are reduced in the body, requiring you to “restock” the supply.
Digestive enzymes are chemicals produced by our bodies in the pancreas, small intestine, salivary glands and stomach. When we eat food, our digestive system requires the food to be broken down into nutrients before absorption can occur. Most experts believe that digestive enzyme production slows down after the age of 30 – so that even those adhering to a healthy diet may have trouble getting adequate nutrition.
Digestive enzymes are specialized proteins designed to break apart a specific type of food; lipases break down fat, amylases break down carbohydrates and proteases break down protein. If you suffer from any of the following, your body may be having difficulties breaking down food into its nutrients:
- Gas and bloating after meals
- Heavy feeling in your stomach after meals
- Feeling full after just a few bites of food
- Undigested food in your stool
Supplementing with digestive enzymes helps many people with the metabolic portion of digestion, providing the body with the nutrients needed to thrive.
In addition, digestive enzymes may also reduce thickening of the blood from fibrin deposits – unclogging the body’s microcirculation system. This effect has a positive impact on supporting the liver’s ability to process and detoxify.
Essential to good health, probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes 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 by maintaining the proper balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria.
This delicate intestinal flora balance can be disrupted by many factors, including:
- Chlorine and fluoride (in most tap water)
- Antibiotics (which kill beneficial bacteria in addition to harmful bacteria)
- Birth control pills
- Alcoholic beverages
When the good bacteria are destroyed by any of these factors, it allows the harmful bacteria to multiply. Common symptoms of an imbalance can include fatigue, frequent illness, gas, bloating, bad breath, excessively odiferous stool, constipation, diarrhea and poor absorption of nutrients. Supplementing with probiotics can restore your intestinal bacteria balance.
Enzymes and probiotics are complimentary of each other. By breaking down food to ensure nutrient absorption, enzymes encourage proper nutrition, while probiotics encourage digestive balance and flora. The two work together to provide a healthy gut environment and alleviate gastrointestinal distress.