by Kris Pitcher
My gut tells me there's a lot of confusion over two really helpful supplements. Probiotics, and digestive enzymes. Both of these are useful, in different ways...and different times. Let's clear things up.
Probiotics promote healthy bacteria in your intestines and can be taken daily. This healthy bacteria creates the right environment for you to get the most out of your nutrients (the food you take in), and helps your system work properly.
When we are dieting, or need to limit foods due to allergies, which naturally promote this healthy bacteria - like some yogurts - it can be a good idea to introduce those healthy bacteria by taking a supplement. Again, you incorporate this into your daily regimen.
The second supplement, digestive enzymes can be helpful in an "as needed" or acute situation. If we are limiting the sources of carbohydrate, take gluten for example, because of dietary needs our body stops producing the required enzymes to digest and break that down.
If we reintroduce that into our system...gas, bloating, and other distress begin in the intestines. This happens because we no longer are producing the required enzymes to digest those forms of sugars or proteins.
Taking a digestive enzyme can help in those situations. They can also speed up the digestive process when intestinal emptying seems to be taking forever. You're feeling full three hours after your last meal of 4 ounces chicken with 1 cup veggies and 1/4 cup of rice...still full and it's time to eat?
Digestive enzymes can assist in that scenario. If I haven't eaten dairy, or wheat, and I know I'm eating pizza...digestive enzymes. This isn't a tool you want to use all the time. If you aren't digesting your relatively small meal in 3 hours...we should talk alternatives, or other issues.
So, probiotics create a healthy bacterial environment and we want that daily. Digestive enzymes on the other hand are an "as needed" supplement we can introduce to help our system by reintroducing some of the enzymes we've stopped producing.
I hope that's helpful, and clears up some of the confusion about which of these you take when. Having a healthy gut is important.