Q: I take a probiotic every day. Do I also need digestive enzymes?
A: Good for you! Probiotics are essential for balancing the microbes in your gut and protecting against harmful pathogens that can make you sick. These friendly bacteria also promote overall immunity and the absorption of nutrients, and they may even support healthy liver function. But even though probiotics do an amazing job of keeping your digestive system happy, they can only do so much. And that’s where enzymes come in.
Enzymes are specialized proteins that play an important part in at least 4,000 biochemical reactions essential to life—and many of these reactions involve digestion. Each enzyme works in its own specific way to help your body digest the foods you eat. For example, the enzyme lipase can only break down the fats you eat. It does nothing to other macronutrients like carbs or protein. Because each type of enzyme has a certain job, getting the correct enzyme is like getting the right key to open a specific lock. Unfortunately, it’s easy for our bodies to run low on digestive enzymes, so supplementation may be warranted.
The most important digestive enzymes are protease, lipase, lactase and amylase. Protease processes protein. Lipase, of course, breaks apart fat. Lactase deals with dairy. And amylase tackles carbohydrates. New findings in the Journal of Medicinal Food show that taking a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement can also reduce indigestion, heartburn, nausea, gas and bloating.
Pairing your probiotic with a digestive enzyme supplement can ensure that your digestive system has complete support. To maximize your supplement’s benefits, make sure to take it with a meal or immediately after eating.