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How to Improve Gut Health: Understanding the Role of Enzymes, Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Postbiotics

How to Improve Gut Health: Understanding the Role of Enzymes, Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Postbiotics

How to Improve Gut Health: Understanding the Role of Enzymes, Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Postbiotics

Our gut microbiome plays a major role in our overall health. Numerous studies show that the 

quality and quantity of the gut microbiome influences almost every bodily system – not only our digestive function but our immune system, mental health, hormone production, metabolism, cognition, and more.

This blog will discuss the vital role of enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics in maintaining optimal gut health. We will explain how each of these compounds function in the gut and the important roles they play in our nutrition and everyday wellbeing. 


Enzymes and Digestive Health 

Effective digestion is both mechanical and chemical. Chemical digestion involves digestive enzymes working to break down the molecular structure of different compounds in the food we eat into forms that can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Digestive enzymes are produced and released by the gastrointestinal system to help us break down the food we eat. Different types of enzymes are required to metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates and to assist with the absorption of nutrients. 

The main types of digestive enzymes include amylase, maltase, lactase, lipase, and proteases.

• Amylase: breaks down starches (carbs) into sugars.

• Maltase: breaks malt sugar into glucose to be used for energy.

• Lactase: breaks lactose (sugar in dairy products) into glucose and galactose.

• Lipase: breakdown of fats into fatty acids and glycerol

• Proteases: break down proteins into amino acids

A lack of any of these enzymes can lead to nutritional deficiencies and gastrointestinal issues. [1]

Supplementation with digestive enzymes can help in the management of digestive and malabsorption disorders, such as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, lactose intolerance, and celiac disease. [2]

Recent studies have suggested that an enzyme called DPP IV may improve gluten digestion by facilitating the presentation of gluten peptides to the immune system, potentially reducing gluten sensitivity.  [3]

Several foods are also naturally rich in digestive enzymes and can help with chemical digestion. These include tropical fruits such as pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and mango.  [4]  

Fermented vegetables such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and yogurt also assist with digestiion. [5]


The Power of Probiotics 

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Probiotics are living microorganisms that can improve gut health and restore balance to the microbiome. These “friendly bacteria” are shown to have a wide variety of functions in the body, including: [6]

• Correcting microbial imbalance in the gut (dysbiosis) [7]

• Improving gastrointestinal microflora

• Enhancing immune system function

• Reducing inflammation in gastrointestinal diseases

• Reducing serum cholesterol levels

• Treating irritable bowel-associated diarrhea

• Reducing high blood pressure

• Improving lactose metabolism

• Producing bacteriocin and short-chain fatty acids (beneficial compounds that contribute to metabolic fuel)

• lowering of gut pH

• Supporting gut mucosal barrier function

Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species are the most commonly used probiotics in supplements. Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic yeast strain with the major advantage of being resistant to most antibiotics.  [8] Health benefits have also been demonstrated for Enterococcus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus, Leuconostoc, Bacillus, and Escherichia coli.

Lactobacillus bacteria are part of the lactic acid bacteria group that can convert sugars to lactic acid, creating an acidic environment that harmful bacteria species are unable to grow in. [9]


Bifidobacterium species, together with other probiotics have been proven to treat or manage constipation, travelers’ diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, gut inflammation and moderate ulcerative colitis. This species can also reduce the development of eczema and food allergies. [10]

Bacillus coagulans LBSC (SEBiotic™) is a particularly remarkable strain as it can withstand acidic pH, bile, and gastrointestinal juice in the human gut and also improve gut microbiota. [11]

Saccharomyces boulardii is shown to treat diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and moderate symptoms of ulcerative colitis. [12] This beneficial yeast is resistant to antibiotics and is strongly recommended for the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and traveler’s diarrhea. [13]

When looking for the best probiotic for gut health, it’s hard to beat spore-based probiotics. Unlike regular probiotics, spore-based probiotics are able to survive the harsh conditions of the gut. [14] They are naturally resistant to stomach acid, which means they are more likely to colonize. MegaSporeProbiotic™ is scientifically proven to increase bacterial diversity in the gut and improve metabolism. [15] RestorFlora™ contains both spore-based probiotics and the beneficial yeast saccharomyces boulardii, which is resistant to antibiotics and can help prevent diarrhea. 

Prebiotics: The Fuel for Healthy Gut Bacteria 

Prebiotics are a type of molecule that cannot be digested in the gut, so they are fermented in the gastrointestinal tract by certain bacteria. [16] In this way, prebiotics function as an energy source for microbiota, stimulating the growth and function of “good bacteria” and improving their composition. 

Prebiotics are also able to modify the environment of the gut. The byproducts of their fermentation include short-chain fatty acids, which decrease the gut pH and improve the composition and population of the gut bacteria. [17]

Prebiotics can also: [18]

• Increase levels of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli

• Produce beneficial metabolites

• Increase calcium absorption

• Reduce protein fermentation

• Reduce pathogenic bacteria populations

• Reduce the risk of developing allergies

• Improve gut barrier function

• Improve immune system function

Two of the most important groups of prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides. While these are naturally present in several foods, supplements are now widely available and provide a more reliable and convenient dose.

PreforPro is a bacteriophage: a submicroscopic bundle of DNA and RNA that can reproduce by utilizing specific living bacterial cells as its host. Phages such as PreforPro are shown to reduce levels of ‘bad’ gut bacteria and allow room for good bacteria (probiotics) to proliferate. [19]


Postbiotics are the products left behind after prebiotics and probiotics have been broken down. Many of these products can be highly beneficial to the gut microbiome, particularly vitamins B12, folate, vitamin K, amino acids, antimicrobial peptides, and short-chain fatty acids. [20]

Research suggests that postbiotics have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-proliferative, and antioxidant activities, and may support immune function and provide relief from digestive issues. 

Supplementation may help with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease symptoms, as well as help prevent respiratory tract infections. 

Postbiotics are produced by a range of probiotic species, including Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus, and Saccharomyces. They are naturally present in fermented foods such as kefir, tempeh, kimchi, yogurt, sauerkraut, and pickled vegetables.


The Importance of Gut Health  

A healthy microbiome is essential for overall health and wellbeing. You can take steps to improve your gut health by incorporating foods that naturally contain enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics into your daily diet. 

For additional support, gut health supplements can deliver a concentrated dose of beneficial microbes directly to the gut. Probiotic supplements - especially spore-based - are designed to improve gut health by promoting the colonization of healthy gut bacteria, which in turn provide beneficial enzymes and postbiotics. 

These simple changes can go a long way in enhancing good health and quality of life. 






















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