The difference between digestive enzymes and probiotics can get a little blurry, especially when some foods contain both, for example, sauerkraut and kimchi. Also, both probiotics and enzymes aid people in their digestion and have been found to help many of the same ailments.
So what is the difference? Well, enzymes are needed for breaking down your food so that your body can get the nutrients it needs from the food. There are three main types of digestive enzymes:
– Lipase – breaks down fats
– Amylase – breaks down carbs
– Protease – breaks down proteins
Ideally, a healthy body makes its own digestive enzymes needed to properly digest food.
On the other hand, probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that seem to have many health benefits. This has been a growing area of research with new discoveries constantly being found about these little guys. These probiotics make up your gut flora, which is responsible for manufacturing vitamins and boosting the immune system.
Many things can deplete both digestive enzymes and probiotics in your body and food. For example, raw milk is high in digestive enzymes and probiotics, but due to pasteurization, the high heat kills both of these beneficial things. Therefore, a diet consisting of lots of highly processed foods will not have the digestive enzymes and possibly the probiotics which you receive from eating raw food. There are also certain conditions (ex. gallbladder removal, liver disease, yeast overgrowth, etc.) that may upset your body’s production of digestive enzymes or may disrupt the colonies of beneficial bacteria residing in your gut.
While there are supplements available for both digestive enzymes and probiotics, it is possible to receive both of these through the foods you consume. As mentioned earlier, some foods are high in both of these. Raw, fermented vegetables and raw milk are high in both digestive enzymes and probiotics. Here is a list of other foods you may want to add to your diet to help incorporate digestive enzymes and probiotics: