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Probiotics vs Digestive Enzymes: Importance of Each

Probiotics vs digestive enzymes- Is one better than the other? How do they differ? Why are they important? These are often pondered questions when it comes to the topic of probiotics and digestive enzymes. Both subjects are important and offer health benefits for the gut microbiome and the body's immune function. We break down what you should know about each to better your health.

probiotics vs digestive enzymes

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Both probiotics and digestive enzymes can be useful and for some even significantly health-changing. This is because they help with digestive health which then impacts your immune system as well as other functions of the body.

My family uses both probiotics and digestive enzyme supplements in different ways. It is important to use these in accordance to your body's needs. Also, there are brands that are better than others in terms of quality and effectiveness.

Both of these supplements play important roles and offer different things to the digestive tract. Also, depending on the supplement discussed, different forms are available. Seeking guidance from a healthcare provider may be helpful in your search for the best supplements for your body.

Probiotics vs Digestive Enzymes


What are Probiotics?

In other posts I have touched upon probiotics quite frequently. First of all, they are live microorganisms, (or live bacteria), which contribute to a healthy gut. You get probiotics from eating certain foods or by taking probiotic supplements. These bacteria are beneficial to a well-functioning digestive system, a balanced gut microbiome, and a strong immune system.

What do Probiotics do?

Probiotics help overtake pathogenic agents, (microorganisms which are infectious). This action can change one's immune response or keep a person's immune system strong against disease.

They do the following things:

  • Fight against digestive infections such as irritable bowel sydnrome, urinary tract infections, cystic fibrosis, and other gastrointestinal ailments.
  • Allow nutrients to be better absorbed with the appropriate balance of probiotics.
  • They improve overall health - If overall gut health is good, then mental and emotional aspects of health also benefit as well as brain function.
  • Probiotics balance the gut microbiota (the organisms of the gut). They keep bad bacteria in balance so the harmful bacteria does not overtake the gut and the intestines.
  • They help to keep immune health on track.
  • Probiotics help protect against urinary tract and vaginal infections.
  • They play an important role in oral health. The good bacteria can keep the bad bacteria in check and help with issues such as bad breath.

Types of Probiotic Strains

There are various strains of probiotics that contribute to a person's health. These probiotic strains work best when an appropriate supply are present in the gut under the right circumstances.

Also, probiotic benefits are enhanced when they are taken together. This is why you will most often find probiotic supplements to contain various strains as well as certain amounts of each strain.

The environment of the gastrointestinal tract can make it difficult for probiotics to survive. Therefore, deliverability plays a crucial role when it comes to transporting probiotics throughout the body.

Additionally, there are hundreds of strains of probiotics. However, there are more common ones which include:

  • Lactobacillus acidophillus
  • Streptococcus, Bacillus
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium animalis
  • Escherichia
  • Saccharomyces
  • Enterococcus.

These different probiotic strains are associated with different functions. For instance, Lactobacilli protect against vaginal infections and help the body better process micronutrients, lessening inflammation in the body and protecting against skin issues such as eczema.

The strain Bifidobacteria, on the other hand, has been found helpful against digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and other stomach issues. Additionally, it is the first strain of bacteria to reside in the gut of the newborn. They help in the synthesizing and absorption process of vitamins and minerals.

Probiotic-Rich Foods

Certain foods are rich in probiotics. These foods offer a lot of health benefits due to being high in probiotics and offering other nutrients to the body. A Russian scientist named Elie Metchnikoff first proposed the notion that probiotics could affect the gut microbiota by lessening the negative effects of pathogens in the gut.

Here is a quicklist of probitotic rich foods and drinks. 

  • Yogurt - There are better yogurts on the market than others that contain a healthy amount of probiotics without high doses of sugar.
  • Kimchi - Fermented vegetables
  • Aged Cheese and Dairy - A2 dairy is easier to digest / Some have difficulty digesting dairy altogether
  • SauerKraut
  • Pickles
  • Kombucha
  • Kvass
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Kombucha

Probiotics and Histamine Intolerance

Although probiotics have many health benefits, it is important to note that this good gut bacteria can be problematic for some people. There are steps to take if a person has a histamine intolerance or sensitivity.

This is because some probiotics help to increase histamine levels. For instance, this study shows how the beneficial bacteria known as lactobacillus saerimneri was shown t increased histamine production in comparison to other healthy gut bacteria.

When a person has a histamine intolerance, they have difficulty breaking down histamine in the body. Histamine is a chemical reaction that occurs in the body in response to your immune system being triggered. This can be due to an allergic reaction or other stimuli that affects a histamine response. 

The good news is that there are probiotics on the market that are formulated specifically for a person with histamine sensitivities. This is a histamine-friendly specific probiotic which is also listed in the supplements below. For more information on histamine intolerance, view the related posted below.

What Affects Good Gut Bacteria?


Unfortunately, many people have difficulties maintaining a healthy balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria in the gut microbiome. One thing that influences the inbalance is the use of antibiotics. 

According to the National Foundation For Infectious Diseases, a quarter of all antibiotics prescribed on an outpatient basis are not needed or effective. Antibiotics are used to fight off bacteria infections. However, antibiotics target all bacteria when used, not just the harmful bacteria that is causing the infection.

This means that there will also be lower counts of good bacteria in the gut. In turn, this often creates problems with the digestive system and the function of the immune system later on.

Addtionally, the antibiotics used in animal products affect digestion and bacteria count as well as the chemicals that are used in foods, cleaning and household products, and beauty and skincare products. Pesticides applied to crops are another factor that negatively impact gut flora.

Therefore, it is important to limit your use of antibiotics whenever possible. There are many natural remedies that are helpful in place of antibiotics.

What health Issues can Probiotics help With?

Probiotics can help greatly with healthy digestion. Certain immune and digestive issues that one may experience with an imbalance of bacteria are problems such as:

  • SIBO- the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine
  • Food Intolerances and Food Allergies
  • Skin Conditions
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Sydrome)
  • Candida or other Yeast Infections
  • Other Gastrointestinal Disorders

Best Probiotic Supplements

You can take probiotic supplements to better balance the bacteria in your gut and help the digestive process as well. These supplements vary in the types of strains and the amount of different strains they contain.

It can become overwhelming and a bit of a guessing game when it comes to which ones to take. Keeping track of your symptoms and research will help you decipher which ones will be more beneficial for you.

The delivery of the probiotic supplement is also important. There are certain companies which offer high-quality supplements that are effective.

We had to go through several ones before finding the ones that work best for each of us. Some brands help you by specifically creating probiotic supplements geared towards digestion, mood, urinary tract, and so forth. This can be helpful when choosing which one to begin with.

Highly Recommended Probiotic Supplements Quicklist:

  • Seeking Health Probiotics -This probiotic is perfect for those with a histamine intolerance
  • Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics - This brand of probiotics has several formulas targeting specific needs such as mood, women's health, urinary tract health, men's health, etc. Their mood probiotic was the first one we came acrossed that significantly helped my son.

Digestive Enzymes

What are Digestive Enzymes?

Digestive Enzymes are naturally occuring substances in the body that support digestion by helping your body break down food. They are released into your saliva as you chew and are also released by cells in the small intestine, stomach, and pancreas.

Types of Digestive Enzymes

There are a variety of digestive enzymes. Some of these include:

  • Lactase
  • Sucrase
  • Protease
  • Amylase
  • Lipase.

These different enzymes all break down different types of food in the body. For instance, lactase enzymes are created in the small intestine and are responsible for breaking down lactose.

Lipase enzymes, on the other hand, are created in the pancrease and are responsible for breaking down fats. This becomes important when you are deciding which type of digestive enzyme supplement to take.

Digestive enzymes create a chemical reaction which breaks down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that the body consume which then allow the nutrients from the food to be used appropriately by the body. Many of the digestive enzymes are made in the pancreas.

Why are Digestive Enzymes important?

Digestive enzymes allow the body to absorb the nutrients from the broken down food. If enzymes are not plentiful enough in the body or able to do their job appropriately, then food is left undigested and can cause all sorts of health problems.

Additionally, when food is not properly broken down by the enzymes, the body will not receive proper nourishment which will effect other functions of the body. Additionally, symptoms can occur which effect the immune system, all parts of the gastrointestinal system, the skin, brain, mood, and so on.

What causes enzymes to not work properly

Enzymes are sensitive substances which once affected, change in structure and effectiveness. The things that cause enzyme deficiency include genetics, the environment and one's surroundings, and health problems. It is difficult because health problems can cause an enzyme deficiency and an enzyme deficiency can lead to health symptoms.

Symptoms which can occur from a digestive enzyme deficiency?

Different symptoms occur when there is an enzyme deficiency in the gut. However, many of these symptoms overlap with many other health issues.

These problems tend to be interrelated, therefore, it makes sense that the body will experience similar symptoms as the body naturally tries to balance itself. Some of these symptoms also occur because of the nutrient defiency.

Some of the symptoms one may experience includes:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • dry skin
  • brittle nails
  • weight loss
  • abdominal discomfort
  • food sensitivities
  • poor gut health

High quality Enzyme Supplements

These enzymes are a complete digestive enzyme. They include enzymes which break down sugar, lactose, gluten, and carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Additonally, they are available in both chewable and in capsule form for those who have difficulty swallowing pills.

Enzymedica offers a variety of enzyme formulations to address specific gut problems. For instance, if you are having diffuculty digesting fat, you may want to consider taking Enzymedica Lypo Gold.

However, Enzymedica Spectrum is designed for those with food intoleraces and Enzymedica is formulated for those with sensitive stomachs in general. These are all great options depending on your digestive needs and problems.

To sum up, probiotics and digestive enzymes are both important. They both play significant roles in a healthy gut microbiome. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that balance out harmful bacteria and offer immune strengthening effects while digestive enzymes break down food so the body can properly absorb the nutrients from the food.

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