What's the difference between probiotics and digestive enzymes?
Digestive enzymes, such as lipase and lactase, are proteins that break food down into digestible nutrients that can be absorbed and utilised by the body. Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer health benefits on the host when taken in adequate amounts.
Probiotics actually aid digestive enzymes in their digestion of food and processing waste, for example many of our Lactobacilli strains enhance the activity of lactase. Some studies suggest that taking digestive enzymes in the long term may not be beneficial as the body may stop producing its own and become dependent. Probiotics are safe in the long term, as the adult body does not produce its own and there is no risk of addiction or dependency when supplementing probiotic levels.
Digestive enzymes in depth: digestive enzymes work by breaking down macromolecules into smaller, more readily absorbed nutrients. They are found in the gastrointestinal tract; including in the saliva, the stomach acid, the pancreatic juice and the body's intestinal secretions. (Probiotics on the other hand, are more heavily concentrated in the small and large intestines) Digestive enzymes include proteases and peptides which breakdown proteins and lipases which break down fats. Digestive enzymes can be extracted from foods and taken as supplements which may be useful for people with food intolerances. However some sources suggest that the body can become dependent on digestive enzymes and therefore long term supplementation is not necessarily advised. Alternative natural remedies for longer term use include herbal or ayuverdic supplements, or indeed probiotics. For more in-depth information probiotics, see What are Probiotics?