Digestive Enzymes Vs. Probiotics – Their Key Differences And Benefits

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By Leslie Waterson

Reviewed by Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN - Last Updated

Digestive Enzymes vs. Probiotics

When we talk about our gut or digestive system, we always come across these two words, “probiotics” and “digestive enzymes.” Probiotics and digestive enzymes both play an important role in your digestive health. Without them, or if you don’t have enough amounts of them, you can face digestive issues that can interrupt your day-to-day life.

Some of the most common digestive issues that can occur if you don’t have enough digestive enzymes and probiotics are diarrhea, gas, bloating, indigestion, and other GI symptoms. When you experience these issues, it may mean that your digestive health needs a little support.

Needless to say, proper diet and regular exercise play a vital role in keeping your digestive health intact. We can get probiotics and digestive enzymes from our diet alone, but there are instances where we may need to take supplements to get enough amounts for our bodies.

That being said, while digestive enzymes and probiotics play an equal role in keeping our gut healthy, they are very different from each other. If probiotics and digestive enzymes are causing you some confusion and you want to know how they differ and how they work in your gut, this guide will tell you just that.

So, without further ado, let’s get started on digestive enzymes and probiotics!

Sources of Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics

What are Probiotics?

Let’s get started with what you probably are already familiar with: probiotics.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that reside in your gut. These microorganisms are what we call our “healthy” or “good” bacteria. This is because these microorganisms bring about health benefits once they begin working on our stomachs. Probiotics maintain the balance in our gut microbiome as well as keep off the “bad” bacteria at bay. But because gut health affects many parts of your health, probiotics play a part in keeping your overall health intact by keeping your GI tract in good shape.

The gut microbiome (or simply “microbiome”) is a very complex ecosystem of different microorganisms which are all located in your gut. As mentioned earlier, these microorganisms work for your stomach and play a variety of roles to keep your gut health in check. But aside from keeping your digestive health in good shape, probiotics also play a crucial role in your nervous system, immune system, and hormonal health.

Normally, your gut microbiome should be balanced: meaning, it consists of a lot of good bacteria, and the bad ones are maintained at their proper levels. So long as bad bacteria are at their proper levels and are dominated by good bacteria, they will not harm your gut.

Probiotic Gel Capsules

What if your digestion is disrupted?

However, if your gut balance was disrupted, bad bacteria could take over, and it can lead to certain health consequences. Some of the negative effects you can experience include digestive issues – diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, gas, etc. – low mood or mood swings, weight changes, hormonal imbalance, weakened immune system, trouble with sleeping, and many more.

So, how does one cause imbalance in their gut? Some of the causes of gut imbalance include lack of probiotic intake (e.g., lack of probiotic food sources in your diet), poor diet in general, overuse of antibacterial drugs and products, lack of exercise, and lack of sleep.

Getting enough probiotics, alongside proper diet and regular exercise, is important to promote balance in your gut. The more balanced your gut is, the healthier your gut and digestive system would be – and with that, your overall health!

What are Digestive Enzymes?

Now, let’s go to the other substance that is important to your digestive system, which you may or may not know. Let’s now talk about digestive enzymes.

Digestive enzymes are biological molecules that are naturally produced by your body. As their name suggests, digestive enzymes are enzymes used by our body to digest different types of foods and their respective compounds. Aside from digesting these foods and compounds, digestive enzymes also help your body absorb the nutrients it gets from the foods you eat.

Our digestive enzymes are produced from our pancreas. Then, they will be placed into our saliva, stomach, and small intestines to do their digestive work. Aside from our body, we can also get digestive enzymes from foods such as mango, pineapple, banana, honey, and sauerkraut.

It is very important to note that there are a wide variety of digestive enzymes. Each of these enzymes digests only a specific compound or substance.

Digestive Enzymes Capsules

Here are some examples of the different types of digestive enzymes:

  • Amylase – for breaking down carbohydrates
  • Protease – for breaking down protein into amino acids
  • Lipase – for breaking down protein into fatty acids
  • Lactase – for breaking down lactose
  • Cellulase – for breaking down cellulose, a fiber that is very hard to break down

If you lack a particular digestive enzyme, it will be hard for your body to digest and break down the compound that that digestive enzyme specializes in. For instance, if you don’t have enough cellulase in your body, it will take tons of energy for your body to break down the cellulose that you consumed (keep in mind that cellulose is very hard to break down unless you have cellulase in your body). Another good example is lactase.

When our body does not contain or does not produce enough lactase, you could become lactose intolerant since your body does not properly break down lactose. The result is symptoms such as diarrhea and gas. If you are lactose intolerant, getting lactase would help you deal with your lactose intolerance.

Digestive Enzymes vs. Probiotics: Key Differences

Now that we know what digestive enzymes and probiotics are, it is fairly easy to see the key differences between digestive enzymes and probiotics. The main difference between probiotics and digestive enzymes lies in what they do for your body, particularly for your gut.

Probiotics play a role in your gut health by promoting balance within your gut. This is very important because keeping your gut balanced is essential in keeping your digestive health – and overall health – in optimal shape. On the other hand, digestive enzymes play an important role in digesting and breaking down compounds. They also aid in nutrient absorption since they’re the ones that break down the compounds you consume.

But despite their key differences, digestive enzymes and probiotics are both equally important. Without one of them, your gut will suffer – and you will rush to the toilet more than you would want to! So, it is important to check on them and keep them intact.

Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics Capsule Differences

Top Digestive Enzyme and Probiotic Supplements

Now that you know what digestive enzymes and probiotics are, you may consider taking them as dietary supplements. If you do, here are some of the digestive enzyme or probiotic supplement products to try.

1) Renew Life DigestMore Ultra Enzymes

Renew Life DigestMore Ultra Enzymes

Renew Life DigestMore Ultra Enzymes is a plant-based digestive enzyme supplement made to help break down some of the hard-to-digest foods and compounds. This supplement is made in the USA, and it is made up of high-quality ingredients.

These enzymes will help you break down food molecules you otherwise couldn’t, like proteins and other nutrients. So if you have an enzyme production deficiency and are going to give enzyme supplementation a try, this is a great option.

It’s also important to note that this supplement contains soy, wheat, and milk.


2) Now Super Enzymes

Now Super Enzymes

Now Super Enzymes is an enzyme supplement formulated with papain, bromelain, pancreatin, and ox bile to help in breaking down macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fats. Aside from breaking down the three macronutrients, Now Super Enzymes also optimizes our food’s nutrient availability.

Enzymes can be super helpful in aiding in digestion or filling any gaps you may have with enzyme production as well. This enzyme supplement is a particularly great addition to your daily meals if you have a hard time breaking down fats to short-chain fatty acids or breaking down proteins and nutrients.


3) MegaSpore Probiotic

MegaSpore Probiotic

MegaSpore Probiotic is a spore-based probiotic supplement that is shown to help maintain a healthy gut barrier function. What is unique about this supplement is that MegaSpore Probiotic is effective in reconditioning the gut by promoting microbial diversity. It also aids in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.

These beneficial bacteria can help with digestion or other GI functions that are off. It can also help with overall wellness.


4) Dr. Mercola Probiotics

Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics

Dr. Mercola Probiotics is a soy-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO probiotic supplement that contains 10 different probiotic strains for your gut health needs. Aside from promoting a healthy microbiome, Dr. Mercola Probiotics also offer support for your immune system. This dietary supplement is extremely popular, and for good reason. It’s a high-quality brand that is trustworthy in what they produce.


Digestive Enzymes vs. Probiotics: Should You Give Them a Try?

If you are looking into the digestive enzymes vs. probiotics argument, you may notice that the best way to use these products is together! Enzyme supplements can be extremely helpful in aiding your body in digesting food and are often made from fungal and plant sources. Probiotics, on the other hand, are helpful in preparing your stomach for digestion but also supply your stomach with the good bacteria it needs for a variety of other functions.

Probiotics can be found in many common raw foods and dairy products, but if you are sensitive to dairy or raw foods, capsule form can be best. If you have a problem with producing stomach acid, then adding these foods can also be triggering. Instead, reach for probiotic supplements to provide your gut bacteria and GI tract with extra support.

Digestive Enzymes & Probiotics for gut health

If you want extra help, try adding enzyme supplements to your diet as well. These supplements are oftentimes made up of amino acids, specific enzymes like alpha-galactosidase, and more.

There are also different types of enzymes to choose from. For instance, protease enzymes are the enzymes that help protein turn into amino acids and peptides. On the other hand, lipase enzymes work to break down fats and turn them into short-chain fatty acids. Digestive enzyme supplements can be key if you have an enzyme deficiency that is causing other problems like stomach issues, breaking down proteins, food intolerances, and generally lacking good bacteria.

Using probiotics with enzymes can be great because the two can work synergistically. For instance, one probiotic stand, Lactobacillus bacterium, actually helps lactase enzymes because the probiotic strand produces lactase as well.

Remember, having a healthy digestive tract isn’t just about protecting your digestion. It plays a role in a variety of other functions like hormone regulation, immune function, energy levels, brain fog, and more.

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Leslie Waterson

Leslie has been passionately involved in the health and fitness industries for over a decade. She is constantly reviewing the latest scientific research and studies in order to take a research-backed approach to lifestyle optimization. Her main areas of interest include nutrition and supplementation. Leslie shares her findings on Fitness Clone to help other health enthusiasts choose the products and routines that will help them achieve their goals.